I had the privilege of facilitating a workshop on legal process outsourcing (LPO) at the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Annual Meeting in Denver in October. The session, presented under the auspices of the ACC Value Challenge Initiative, brought together in-house counsel practitioners with varying levels of experience with outsourcing to compare notes and share insights. I was joined on the podium by David Bono, VP of Law & General Counsel, US Operations, Brookfield Renewable Power, and Amy Schuh, Chief of Staff, VP & Deputy General Counsel, Operations & Alliances, Hewlett-Packard. In this and a couple of subsequent blogs, I will try to do a little justice to our discussions.
The session was structured around the lifecycle of an LPO arrangement, starting with a review of the reasons in-house counsel outsource and the importance of matching what you outsource to your objectives in outsourcing. We had an interesting discussion about different value propositions available from outsourcing legal services, or parts thereof, including reducing external spend, reducing headcount, and freeing up resources to get closer to the business and work on higher value activities. I presented a short case study generously provided by Ken Cutshaw, CLO & EVP, Cajun OpCo d/b/a Church's Chicken, who was unable to be there in person.
When Ken first joined Church's Chicken, he discovered a large portfolio of trademarks -- which was disorganized and difficult to manage -- and a "process" that relied on a large number of outside law firms and consumed more time than it should from in-house resources. By moving the work to an LPO provider, who helped streamline and automate the process, Ken achieved cost savings and improvements in their ability to manage the portfolio. They now have greater visibility into and search capability within their portfolio, better reporting, and a more reliable system for tracking and updating registrations as necessary. Some of the work is still farmed out to some outside firms in different jurisdictions, but even that coordination is handled by the LPO provider using standard templates.
- Danny Ertel, Founding Partner, Vantage Partners