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Cost efficiency and flexible working: engaging the in-house team
Improving efficiency is one of the biggest challenges facing in-house legal teams, but it’s not just about cutting costs. We talk to Kent Dreadon, previously Deputy General Counsel and Head of Legal at Telefónica UK Limited (which operates under the O2 brand in the UK) and now Group General Counsel at Ascential, about the pressure to save costs and how flexible working can create a more efficient and engaged team.
Talk us through the cost savings that you have achieved…
Across 2013 and 2014 we managed to reduce our external spend by around £2.9 million. This represented over 60% of our total spend. Even to us, that was quite startling. We hadn’t really made reducing external spend a huge focus. And throughout
that period, we still had some significant work going on, so it wasn’t as if the savings were simply due to a lack of work.
There also wasn’t a huge drive in the business at that time to cut legal costs. To put it in perspective, internal and external legal costs are a tiny drop in a big ocean at O2. We were encouraged to manage the team effectively, but it’s not
a business that feels it has to skimp on the annual legal spend. Our budget goes down a little bit each year but it’s not too bad.
How did you reduce your external spend?
Various things happened to drive cost savings. Most of these were deliberate but not necessarily a result of coordinated thinking. We have moved to a model over a period of years where we don’t have a formal panel as such. We have a loose group
of firms that we tend to work with more than others. Most of our work, if not all, is competitively tendered but in a fairly
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Since joining LexisNexis in 2009 Sophie has worked on developing our legal and business content for the in-house legal community. She also runs various networking and mentoring groups for in-house lawyers and works with schools to promote social mobility within the legal profession.
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