Ciaràn Fenton makes a series of very pertinent points in his article "Understanding the needs of in-house counsel". It's a long piece but worth reading to the end.
I saw some of these ideas put into practice in a FTSE100 company's in-house legal department as long ago as the late 1990s, however, so not all these points are wholly new.
That in-house department agreed SLAs with the business units it served. The lawyers all did time sheets, like private practice. Business units were not cross-charged on a time-charge basis at the end of a transaction; instead they were notified of a figure that they would have been charged on, I think I recall rightly, an hourly rate of around £100 an hour and they were informed of how much more this would have cost them if our external lawyers had done the work. The litigation team worked as a "profit-making" arm of the legal department, justifying its existence by recovering money that otherwise would have been written off, for example.
I've not seen other in-house legal departments work in this way so I guess the then GC was ahead of his time?
How many of Ciaràn Fenton's ideas are being implemented in today's in-house departments I wonder? It'd be so interesting to hear from GCs.
Step 1: Lawyer leaders should draft a personal purpose, strategy, and behaviour plan, what I call a personal PSB Plan, for themselves and each member of their team ............ Step 2: That the business, not the legal function, be asked to draft and lead the agreement on a purpose, strategy and behaviour plan i.e. a PSB Plan for the function ............ Step 3: Change “the conversation” between the business and legal to ensure that there is agreement and alignment on their respective – purpose, strategy and behaviours