Legal Procurement’s influence is quickly becoming ubiquitous. Legal services used to be largely exempt from the cost scrutiny other business units and functions have been facing for years. But no longer. Many companies, particularly those with significant legal spend and in regulated industries, involve Procurement when selecting outside counsel and ancillary legal services. The objective is to cut costs, ensure quality, and drive efficiency. And it is working.
This trend is not completely appreciated in the industry. It is rarely love at first sight, when the CEO or CFO introduces Procurement to the legal department to assist with selecting law firms and managing “supplier” relationships. But Procurement’s expertise in getting the best value for the company, managing the sourcing process, and finding the right suppliers for the right price at the right time, makes its involvement a compelling solution for top management.
The recent financial crisis and slow recovery acted as a catalyst and sped up the process for the adoption of Legal Procurement among many Fortune 500 companies and their international equivalents. Publicity about billing practices, big ticket spending, increased transparency, and profit pressure is at the root of this seismic shift.
The industry organization, Buying Legal Council, was formed in 2014 to support and educate Legal Procurement professionals and other buyers of legal services. It provides education and networking to its members and counts many Fortune 500 companies, multinationals, and government agencies among its members.
To better understand Legal Procurement practices and detect trends, the Buying Legal Council conducted a survey in January 2016 among Legal Procurement and Legal Operations professionals, in which 92 submitted their answers. This research represents the view of Legal Procurement and Legal Operations. In order to respond, the organizations had to have such a corporate function. Generally, Legal Procurement as a profession is still in its early days and while more common, is still not yet represented in every industry sector and/or region. We believe that the buying of legal services is still changing and likely to become more closely managed rather than less.
Please note that all findings should be seen as indicative, showing trends rather than absolute, representative data due to the sample size in a (still) unknown universe of Legal Procurement professionals, the effects of random sampling, and different mixes of survey participants in the different surveys.