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Two initiatives by several departments of the FT Innovative In-House Lawyers 2010: convergence and offshoring

As I read through the thumbnail descriptions of why 18 law departments were singled out as innovative, two initiatives jumped out at me. Convergence was cited for three of the law departments (ITV shrank its rolls from 45 firms to 9, Network Rail reduced its panel to 5, and Ladbrokes pared its panel from 85 firms to 10) yet the law department at Novo Nordisk bucked the pattern as it “uses smaller law firms to better control external legal costs.” It may be that the tide of convergence continues in, but I believe it creates a costly undertow.

Legal process outsourcing figured in the citations of three departments. Novo Nordisk “developed a captive outsourcing function” in India, Carillion began an arrangement with an LPO provider, and Unilever’s trademark group is “using Baker & McKenzie’s Manila operation for 24-hour outsourcing.”

The law departments of the companies mentioned above had other qualities that earned them high rankings, but certainly these are two signs of the times that some law departments are transforming their relationships with external service providers.