Optimising your in-house legal spend an interview with Catherine J Moynihan

Optimising your in-house legal spend an interview with Catherine J Moynihan

Catherine J Moynihan, associate Vice President of legal management services at the ACC discusses legal department spending trends and what a legal team can do to optimise their spending practices following the recent publication of The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) 2019 Global Legal Department Benchmarking Report.

What are the typical areas of legal spend?

Most simply, legal spend can be split into internal and external spending. Internal consists of staffing and technology costs, both for lawyers and non-lawyers in the department. External costs are resources allocated to law firms and alternative legal service providers. Patent and trademark filing fees would also fall under external spend. Of course, law departments also track the cost of regulatory fees and penalties, settlement costs, and fines, but the ACC 2019 Global Legal Department Benchmarking Report does not include these in spend metrics, as the variables differ substantially. This makes direct, consistent comparisons more difficult because the spend will include one-time, ‘big ticket’ or unbudgeted items.

Why are spending metrics important to a legal department and what are the key metrics that should be tracked?

The Global Legal Department Benchmarking Report tracked a median legal spend of nearly US$2m and a mean legal spend of more than US$16m. Thus, companies spend quite a bit on their legal departments. It’s important to have the metrics to know where this money is going and to show sound stewardship of corporate funds. With such large budgets, it can look like corporate legal departments have endless resources, but they also have numerous matters to cover.

In the past ten or 11 years specifically, corporate legal departments have been under pressure to control costs. Tracking legal spend as a percent of revenue, often with litigation set aside, is a way to measure if legal costs are being reduced year over year. Often, cost containment is effectuated by carefully managing external spend through convergence to a carefully selected panel of law firms, conversion to value-based fees, and use of

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About the author:

Louisa leads marketing for the in-house legal community at LexisNexis. She joined the dedicated in-house team at LexisNexis four years ago and has a passion for driving and facilitating initiatives which are customer-focused at their heart. Her vision is to support in-house counsel succeed in their fast-evolving role based on deep insight, data analysis and best practice gathered across the in-house community.

Prior to her in-house focused role, Louisa led the marketing for the bar and mid-market private practice sectors as well as product marketing lead for LexisPSL – LexisNexis’ cloud based, practical guidance and legal research software solution.

She brings 20 years’ marketing experience both client and agency side, specialising in B2B marketing in the Legal, TMT (Telco, Media and Technology) and Financial Services industries. In both South Africa, Europe and the UK.

Louisa is also an active member on the LexisNexis Gender Equality Matters (GEM) steering committee and is involved with the Families at LexisNexis Group which brings together, supports and lobbies for change those with an interest in balancing the challenges of work and family.