An analysis conducted by the CEB, a member-based advisory company, based on a recent survey of 180 in-house departments with the objective of examining different practices among comparable units but with very different expense levels, concluded that, to increase efficiency, legal departments should:
1. Use non-lawyer professionals more often. "Departments that have two attorneys per paralegal or non-lawyer professional can delegate more routine/administrative tasks and focus attorneys on their highest value activities." As a result, the study recommends in-house counsels to consider "whether a non-lawyer professional can provide greater leverage", which is quite good news for the paralegal profession!
2. Invest in legal operations capabilities. According to this study, the legal operations manager is an ascendant function in legal departments. This manager is usually in charge of budgeting, technology selection, vendor management, and career development. These are functions that experienced paralegals and paralegal managers can set their eyes on and thus, again, more good news for paralegals!
3. Use smaller law firms more often. Larger companies are reducing their reliance on large law firms in favor of mid-sized law firms (more than 50 but less than 500 lawyers). So, if you are thinking of moving to a new job, this is probably important information to keep in mind.
4. Perform more legal work in-house. Their conclusion here is very simple "it’s just simply more cost-effective to have in-house staff do the work that we often ask outside counsel to manage". Another good point to take away from this survey if you are looking for a job.
5. Invest selectively in legal technologies. Here, the analysis recommends to push forward with technology initiatives, but to demand more from providers and plan/budget for the changes that these initiatives will require. It means for paralegals that, to remain relevant, some time needs to be invested in becoming the point of reference within the practice regarding technology trends and needs including vendor selection and available training.
You can find the entire analysis based on this interesting study here.