Legal Manpower: Headcount restrictions SHOULD NOT deny you access to Legal Dept. Talent
10 minutes • 25 Apr 22
The resourcing of legal departments is traditionally cantered around full-time staff and more recently, in limited instances, part-time lawyers – (onsite lawyers weren't typically available in fractional quantities). While legal personnel remain the most potent of all legal dept. resources - it also is an expensive resource category that historically has not been easy to mobilise or scale to meet variable and strategic needs.
While a number of prominent “flexible” legal resourcing providers have emerged, they typically only serve Big Law clientele on longish term mandates at expensive rates, whilst offering little strategic agility. Reliable access to strategically agile and dynamic legal personnel resources is now an accepted tenet of “new law” operations – as no static team can do it all, all the time.
In this white paper, we analyse the criticality of legal personnel, historic mobilisation challenges, and now, just how easy it is for your legal team to deploy strategically agile legal personnel resourcing.
Access world class legal department talent in 3 min with GLS Legal Manpower™
GLS ISSUE INSIGHT
A good in-house team gets things done, communicates, makes peace, offers insights, leads, inspires, spreads calm, reads & recalls everything, picks its battles, takes risks and retains its personality. Traditionally, the response of the traditional in-house lawyer ("IHL") to increased workflows has been to seek out extra “legal hands” – which makes sense unless you need a bulldozer for 5 min rather than a lot of people with shovels for years.
Sadly, a significant number of GCs still maintain a relatively fixed view of legal personnel resourcing models. Such models that are increasingly outdated and preventative of legal function optimisation and transformation.
Whilst most GCs agree that IHLs are increasingly challenged by highly volatile demand for both capacity and capability, many still maintain a very static talent bench - a structural legacy from their law firm days.
The net result is, as we all know, a systemic condition where IHL teams are chronically overworked, forced to unnecessarily outsource work and generally fail to be as responsive as the business would like.
While personnel potency can be enhanced via legal transformation (i.e. lawyers + legal tech), our macro focus here is on how businesses can deploy more agile and scalable legal resourcing strategies.
Relaxing the fixed view of legal talent management can be key to departmental transformation – as has been well demonstrated in many other specialist business departments.
Let’s take a look at the IT Department:
Many CIO functions will reserve around 30% of their overall “head count” budget to bring in “contingent talent". This is seen as critical, as it allows for more agile and dynamic responses to business needs.
IHLs have in part used this model via law firm secondees, but typically only for major project/overflow scenarios and not as a more permanent means of meeting the more strategic requirements of the team.
Traditionally though it has been very difficult for IHLs to deploy a dynamic, agile and scalable legal personnel strategy due to the myriad of associated challenges.
Let’s now examine these challenges:
LEGAL PERSONNEL OPTIMISATION OBSTACLES
Legal personnel resourcing was recently described by one of our new GC level clients as the “Alpha Romeo of the legal resource world – expensive, everyone wants one, but hard to keep on the road..."
Whilst many in the profession might not appreciate comparison with a sports car of questionable reliability, this GC was using humour to acknowledge the perennial challenges of legal resourcing.
Looking through the lens of the IHL ecosystem, the challenges associated with this category of IHL resource, over and beyond strict headcount restrictions that most organisations face, include:
It generally takes a significant lead time to hire and integrate new recruits.
Getting the right fit for a team is a massive hiring challenge.
Using recruitment firms is hugely expensive.
The budgets of many businesses don’t extend to attracting the very best legal talent.
The IHL context is increasingly pressurised as workflow outstrips IHL capacity.
IHL retention rates are moving increasingly towards that of private practice.
The progression and remuneration pathways are far more limited than in private practice.
No lawyer knows everything and what he/she knows is always a subset of the organisation’s needs.
It is tough to scale a lawyer, often “1 lawyer only equals 1 hour”.
Traditionally you could not access a fraction of a lawyer.
Many IHLs are limited to a particular physical location.
There is a big shortage of 3-5 PQE lawyers, the point where value and price are thought to best co-exist.
Rarely are probation exit rights exercised, even in the face of early negative performance
Until you get the personnel strategy right, team morale typically takes a hit.
Yet, despite all of these issues, the criticality of legal department personnel remains unquestioned - and rightly so. In light of the above, it is not difficult to see why developing a strategically agile, potent, focused, scalable and cost-effective legal personnel strategy has proved so elusive.
3 ways you could address your legal personnel requirements
1. Direct Hires
See the above challenges of direct hires – the process is frequently neither easy nor quick, even if you don’t suffer from headcount restrictions. Even with great due diligence and significant effort the risk of bad / mediocre hires remains significant.
2. Your Panel Law Firm
If your corporate law department was big enough and you had a panel-type system in place, you could request a secondee. However, law firms don’t like to fill short term secondments and if they do so, it is with the expectation of future work. There is also a difficult post-secondment transition, as the secondee’s costs can change from a stable wage to nearly $600+ per hour overnight. A small detail - the majority of the world's businesses do not have "panels".
3. Big Law Body Shops
Many legal personnel resourcing platforms do offer "flexible resources", but such platforms are typically only accessible by "Big Law" type clients. They have a minimum duration of engagement (typically 3 weeks), can cost more than law firms, and take time to mobilise.
If you are the 5% of businesses that make up Big Law’s client base, then this might be attractive – but it does not deliver strategic agility to most businesses.
None of these options offer real respite to the deluge of, frequently short notice, need for skills or capacities required to enable business needs and to keep your internal team focused on strategic matters.
Like plaque building up in the veins over time – every micro-support requirement that goes unmet adds pressure to the capacity and morale within your IHL team, and taxes overall operating performance.
Fortunately, the GLS Group, through a combination of blue-chip talent, superior business process and technology, enables you to turn legal personnel resourcing into a powerfully strategic and agile tool.
“GLS can give you access to world class
in-house legal personnel in as little as 3 minutes, for
assignments as small as 4 hours, at a cost likely to be
less than your own full-time staff… all done online.”
THE GLS LEGAL MANPOWER SOLUTION
GLS Legal Manpower™ gives you near instantaneous access to the legal personnel you need to become a better legal team - whether for overflow scenarios or more strategic department transformations.
Any IHL team can now instantly and disruptively (in terms of accessibility, usability, and price) meet their legal personnel requirements in a strategically agile way characterised by:
• Speed: you can access our lawyers in as little as 3 minutes
• Choice: choose from GCs, Senior & Junior Counsel, Contract Managers, Legal Operations & Paralegals
• Skills: a diverse range of skills, including specialist in-house skills, legal tech, and legal operations
• Transformation: you can access the talent that enables the transformation of your legal function
• Supported: our personnel operate from a global platform dedicated to legal operations and come to you with that perspective - they represent far more than just a warm body
• Tools: our personnel have access to many of the 273+ productivity tools in the GLS Legal Operations Centre, to make them more effective in your service
• Onsite/Offsite: our personnel are available both remotely and onsite in 23+ countries
• Burst Capacity: whether you need 1 hour of lawyering or 100 hours of lawyering in 1 hour
• Micro Projects: our lawyers are near instantly available for projects as small as 4 hours - a totally new market option
• Mega Projects: major cross border teams can be assembled in record time
• Experience: most of our lawyers have 5+ years’ experience
• Simplicity: you can submit a work request online, and in under 2 minutes
• Location: our personnel are available globally - whether you need them onsite, offsite or both
• Pricing: our lawyers are likely to cost less than the fully loaded cost of your own IHLs
• Interchangeable: we will replace any of our lawyers for any reason to ensure the right fit
• Poachable: if you really want to hire our lawyers – ask them nicely – we do not obstruct this
• No strings: unlike law firms, there are no expectations attached
• Continuity: your working relationship with our lawyers can continue as long as you like
GLS Legal Manpower™ gives you access to the legal personnel you need, when you need them – allowing you to deliver a strategic, agile and potent legal personnel strategy and circumvent historic challenges.
By building a strategically agile component into your legal personnel resourcing strategy, your IHL team will be better able to progress effectively through the transformation process as seen below:
Whilst most GC’s believe in the case for transformation, less than 25% of IHL teams have actually begun that journey.
Legal personnel are a vital category of legal resources and will remain so forever. However, numerous traditional obstacles have prevented them from being available as a strategically agile resourcing category.
Through GLS Legal Manpower™, those obstacles are removed and with that, IHL teams are presented with a quick transformation "win" – and an easy shift to strategic, agile and potent resourcing. GLS Legal Manpower™ gives you the opportunity to empower your legal personnel strategy into a realm where agile resourcing extends well beyond filling “operational gaps" and becomes core to strategic need.
GLS Legal Manpower™ gives you fingertip access to world class in-house legal personnel in as little as 3 minutes, for assignments as small as 4 hours, and at a cost likely to be less than your own full-time staff.