Speakers from the Corporate Counsel Asia Summit 2016 Discuss…
What Cost-Cutting Strategies Work Best in the Corporate Counsel World Today?
Interviews with Sidney Weeks & Arshad Karim, speakers at the marcus evans Corporate Counsel Asia Summit 2016, taking place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 24 – 25 October 2016.
Sidney Weeks, Chief Legal Officer, Lixil Housing Technology, Lixil Corporation
I have found that cost-cutting can be achieved by making the most of relationships with law firms. For larger projects, Corporate Counsel must have a clearly stated and well run bidding process that concludes in an engagement letter that locks in the bid. If the law firm is truly a partner, they will also consider requests to second their associates to the client for multi-month assignments. From a Corporate Counsel perspective, if a particular wave of activity will decrease, the associate returns to their firm smoothly and the company does not wind up overstaffed. At the same time, the law firm gets to know the client much better from such onsite collaboration. Staffing agencies can also supply suitable legal talent on a short-term basis.
Assigning the right level of work to each employee is also important. Waste could arise if senior employees are handling administrative work solely due to knowing an ongoing matter’s background.
Finally, making business travel efficient by combining meetings into a single trip or awaiting a courtesy visit by a law firm giving a seminar, etc. is certainly effective.
Arshad Karim, Legal Counsel, Nikko Asset Management
The most obvious cost for corporate legal departments is legal fees paid to outside counsel. In particular, litigation and legal disputes usually result in huge legal bills, in addition to the time and effort of internal counsel who could be doing other types of work. Therefore, preventing litigation and legal disputes is one of the best methods of controlling and cutting costs.
To prevent legal disputes, it is imperative that the business side understands legal risks and issues associated with their activities. Corporate legal departments should take a proactive role in educating and informing the business side on such legal risks and issues, preferably prior to such issues arising.
Other methods for controlling legal fees paid to outside counsel may include consolidating the use of law firms to a few, selecting firms to allow negotiation of discounted fees, negotiating a fixed fee instead of a traditional hourly billing for certain projects, and using smaller, boutique firms instead of large international law firms if a matter is appropriate for such boutique firms.
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About the Corporate Counsel Asia Summit 2016
The Corporate Counsel Asia Summit is the premium forum bringing together leading in-house counsel with specialist international law firms and legal services providers. The Summit offers regional GCs an intimate environment for a focused discussion of key new drivers shaping the legal profession. Taking place at The Westin Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 24 – 25 October 2016, the Summit includes presentations on gaining knowledge essential to building a compliant culture, exploring how to successfully manage antitrust, discussing strategies to maximize internal and external resources, and discovering ways to enhance legal productivity for empowered performance.
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