Technology's role in many in-house legal departments is rapidly growing as companies look to free up paralegals and attorneys to focus on high-value work.
Using new tools to give simple assignments to machines, or software to allow employees to devote more time to complex tasks, was a common theme at a recent conference in New York City focused on legal innovation and disruption.
Make-Buy Analysis Calculates Savings for Hiring In-House Counsel
Consultants at Major, Lindsey & Africa use an interactive tool to help in-house counsel decide whether it makes financial sense to hire an internal lawyer to take on the workload of outside counsel in an objective, data-driven way.
Make-Buy Analysis, which launched last week, conducts cost-benefit analysis for corporate legal teams by calculating the estimated dollar and percentage savings available, as well as the breakeven point, for hiring in-house counsel.
With clients and consultants constantly on the move, the firm was looking to create a more userfriendly and easily accessible mobile solution, said Greg Richter, partner and vice president of MLA's in-house practice group.
"In a world that is more mobile, more virtual, we want our clients and our consultants to have access to information real-time through tools like this, allowing for that analysis to happen on the spot," Richter added, "as opposed to, 'Let me get back to you in a week.'"
Through the mobile-enabled application, clients can work through the calculation in real time by identifying a region of the world. Then, the tool will source through local currencies and plug in different costs — say, for the target salary or benefits. Clients can look at the total cost per hour and compare those calculations to the amount they would spend on outside counsel.
The assumptions, Richter said, are fairly consistent across most areas and organizations, regardless of size or scope. The tool formerly existed as a calculator on a spreadsheet, which MLA repackaged into a mobile-enabled format.
"We built this because we know our clients enjoy and appreciate the ability to look at hard data to make decisions," Richter said. "They really want to see things in black and white, and I think this kind of analysis affords them that option."
Richter stressed that it's not a tool to replace outside counsel, but rather one to create more efficient legal services and coverage within an organization.
Flaherty said MLA's tool seems helpful in bringing more rigor to the insourcing of legal work, but its calculation strikes him as too simplistic.
"The real rigor missing in the insourcing calculation is the operational apparatus that comes with scaling," he said. "Importing law firm lawyers imports law firm problems. Is the law department ready to spend the money on legal operations necessary to fix those problems better than law firms do? For some, the answer is yes. But it's a real cost that needs to be factored in. The MLA calculator does not appear to do that."