An In-House View of Do Less Law
Tim Corcoran and I recently published blog posts on Do Less Law to start a dialogue for an ILTA session on that topic. Jeff Carr, the recently retired General Counsel of FMC Technologies and leading in-house thought leader, shared his thoughts on the topic. With his permission, I share them here…
OldLaw, NewLaw, EmergingLaw, and NextLaw and Do Less Law
by Jeff Carr
The Do Less Law list is brilliant! Thanks for doing this. What you call DoLessLaw, I call NextLaw (I may have an interesting discussion with Dentons!), and it’s based on the following:
- OldLaw is not in the business of solving legal problems, it’s in the business of billing hours to solve legal problems.
- NewLaw is not in the business of solving legal problems, it’s in the business of billing lower cost hours to solve legal problems.
- EmergingLaw is in the business of solving legal problems, and in doing so efficiently and effectively.
- NextLaw is in the business of preventing legal problems from ever arising. After all, unless you’re a law firm, the best legal issue is the one you never have.
I, of course, want in- and out-house counsel to move immediately to the mind set of NextLaw – but that is a bridge too far for far too many. Most can’t grasp that level of change, and most are so dependent upon preserving the status quo, that they will do whatever they can to avoid it. Hence, the rise of MPR (Massive Passive Resistance) which in LawLand manifests itself as first, “let’s identify everything that won’t work”; second, “let’s talk and talk and talk about possibilities – but never actually do anything”; and third, “let’s set up conferences, task forces and working groups”.
Your taxonomy fits so well within this set of models, and within the three phase approach I’ve sort of tumbled to to address endemic MPR:
- Stretch – push the boundaries of where you currently are by evolutionary and incremental changes. Look at “what” lawyers do and explore cost savings from disaggregation, lower cost resources, cost and capability auditing, alternative fees, reverse auctions. Hone in on understanding the execution phase of legal project management. In other words get better at doing what, as lawyers, we do.
- Step – away from those boundaries to focus on “how” lawyers do what they do. Here the focus is on the two more important aspects of legal process/project management: planning and improvement. The middle phase (execution, explored in phase 1) is not nearly as important as the front and back end of the P3 execution model (Plan/Perform/Perfect).
- Leap – leave those boundaries behind to focus on “why” lawyers are doing what they do. Here, the focus becomes one of how can we do less law? What is driving the demand for legal services?
- In the litigation/dispute/compliance bucket (often the highest legal spend for a company) the cause of the need for the spend has nothing to do with the legal team – it’s a human or system failure in the company. Phases 1 & 2 help a legal team optimize the management of these legal demands, Phase 3 focuses on eliminating that need through better organizational behavior outside the legal team.
- In the IP/deal bucket (generally the second highest spend, and normally driven by investment in intangibles), again a great deal of the cost comes from bad deals and irrelevant IP. Again, we can optimize the management of the IP and deal process, but it would be far better to assist the company to invest in IP and deals that will actually add value and will not fail in 3-5 years.
Thanks for this important contribution to progress in the legal service delivery ecosystem. Let’s stay in touch!
Thanks very much to Jeff for this contribution. Tim and I hope others will contribute to the dialogue via comments to blog posts or at Twitter #DoLessLaw.
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