3 Procurement Priorities For Law Firms In Uncertain Times

By Lee Garbowitz

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Law360 (February 3, 2021, 1:57 PM EST) —

Lee Garbowitz
Lee Garbowitz

Lots of of us breathed a sigh of relief as we closed the e-book on 2020. But, of system, the transform in the calendar does not spell the end of our difficulties.

Seeking into 2021 and beyond, the foreseeable future remains unsure. The world-wide coronavirus pandemic lingers, as does its affiliated financial disruption. In the same way, we are decidedly not performed with our awakening to social justice concerns or the need to have for ongoing consciousness and development.

These wide societal challenges influence a lot more than our private life — they also desire modifications in how regulation corporations work. Final 12 months, all those modifications incorporated the abrupt change to a remote workforce and the finish of approximately all company journey. This 12 months, firms want to be prepared to again roll with the punches and adapt rapidly.

The procurement perform retains the keys to making ready for and assembly whichever worries the new yr may perhaps carry. By focusing on three priorities — centralizing the procurement function, developing a lifestyle of agility and advertising and marketing supplier range — procurement can guide regulation firms to better good results.

But initial, why the emphasis on procurement?

Procurement’s Purpose in Regulation Organization Readiness

Legislation corporations nonetheless have a tendency to think of the function of procurement as confined to buying merchandise and companies, locking in the best price, and then turning to the following deal. But procurement can be about so much far more than preserving funds.[1]

Regulation firm procurement teams are central to decisions about vetting, choosing, obtaining and onboarding technological know-how and other services. They are ideally positioned to keep an eye on and manage supplier interactions, up to and which includes the provision of feed-back or the termination or modification of services.

Procurement professionals are marriage builders with keen perception on the firm’s economical and strategic choices. They can weigh and assess day-to-working day decisions and map legal spending from the firm’s very long-time period targets and priorities, as perfectly as lengthy-term choices similar to the firm’s services shipping construction, assessing core and noncore capabilities as firms look at the use of exterior suppliers for noncore routines.

As a end result, procurement teams are in an optimal posture to assistance the firm not only regulate expenses but also detect and mitigate hazards, implement effective interior controls, pivot promptly when instances improve, and achieve the firm’s overarching strategic targets. Procurement can and really should be concerned prior to, for the duration of and immediately after each and every paying for choice, assessing price and possibility at every single stage.

Having a solid procurement operate in a law company is like owning a properly-assumed-out, continually current spending plan at dwelling. Devoid of a price range, you have to make each and every choice in the instant, when you could not have the greatest information and facts or the best viewpoint.

A spending budget, like a solid procurement functionality, assists you help you save dollars, but it goes nicely past that. It assists you established priorities, make educated and strategic choices about paying, keep the class for long-phrase objectives, resolve disputes, and make intelligent adjustments or trade-offs when situations alter and factors fail to go as you anticipated.

In limited, procurement is the linchpin for the firm’s strategic achievement — or at least, it has the opportunity to be. But for the procurement operate to strategically guidebook legislation companies toward their priorities, procurement requirements to be crystal clear about its own plans and aims.

Priorities for Legislation Firm Procurement in 2021

Pursuing are 3 priorities for 2021 that will assist corporations get started to optimize procurement’s possible and capitalize on related options.[2]

Centralizing — and Broadening — the Procurement Perform

The energy and resilience of the procurement perform in any legislation agency are specifically linked to how centralized and knowledgeable procurement is. Without the need of insights into the larger image of the firm’s requires and objectives, and without broad authority to act on these insights, procurement obviously cannot reside up to its opportunity.

Centralizing paying — like generating a unified home spending plan — right away increases expense management. But naturally, if the procurement team is never built informed of the firm’s overall strategic goals due to the fact it lacks the staff to deal with strategic considerations, it will not be in a position to contribute to strategic selections all around cost management.

Equally, all paying out introduces opportunity risk. A centralized procurement functionality has the capability to not only vet vendors in advance but also to establish monitoring and mitigation attempts into their contracts and to implement all those problems.

If your firm’s procurement perform is sparse and disconnected, take into consideration techniques that you can consolidate distinct departments or roles. In addition, it is important to preserve close coordination and ongoing strategic alignment with the firm’s government team.

Centralizing and strengthening the procurement function creates synergistic positive aspects, enabling better coordination between its a variety of sides. It also contributes to the other two priorities, fostering flexibility and selling provider range initiatives.

Selling Adaptability and Adaptability

The final 12 months has tested the worth of agility, even for customarily staid regulation firms that are gradual to alter. When the whole floor shifts beneath us, upending our standard approaches of performing enterprise — in person and experience to face — regulation corporations should be nimble and adaptable as nicely.

Even though some of the adjustments of 2020 are certain to be short term, distant perform at some amount is in this article to stay, vacation is possible to stay frustrated for some time and offer chain disruptions can be predicted to go on right until the pandemic is completely underneath command.

These changes have experienced trickle-down results on regulation firms’ priorities.

Properly-equipped and absolutely staffed workplace house are no lengthier marketing points speedy and secure access to remote networks and sufficient off-web page software licenses are. One of the keys to weathering these adjustments is the society of the firm and the degree to which it has prioritized agility.

Procurement is once again very well-positioned to affect the firm’s potential to be flexible. Right after all, procurement professionals are the kinds who make agreements and set the conditions of engagements, which may possibly lock a agency in to outdated techniques of undertaking organization or no cost it up for instantaneous adaptations to switching circumstances.

To that conclusion, procurement must evaluation the law firm’s agreements to recognize where the company has current rights and obligations and where it is achievable to introduce overall flexibility and scalability into the terms of its contracts although keeping legitimate to the firm’s needs and strategic priorities. There might be areas where by procurement can realign expe
nding by canceling agreements outright or renegotiating the kind or degree of solutions.

To the extent doable, concentration on preparing for probable results without having committing to irreversible motion until finally it is clearly required. This permits for ongoing checking of federal, condition and community situations and changes to changing recommendations and polices.

Raising Supplier Range

Law corporations have created strides in the latest several years in numerous employing. Provided that existing emphasis and actuality that they are previously navigating a worldwide pandemic and what may perhaps be an unsteady financial recovery, is this genuinely the appropriate time to just take on systemic imbalances in provider diversity?

Sure, it is, unreservedly so.

Variety encompasses lots of different variables: Varied suppliers could be more compact or newer firms, companies in historically underutilized regions, or businesses operate by females, underrepresented racial groups, men and women with different disabilities, LGBTQ people today or veterans. Whatever the sort, supplier range is a essential metric for company purchasers and therefore should be a crucial thought for their regulation business partners as nicely.

But diversity is not simply about indulging clientele instead, investigation displays that inclusion of diverse suppliers generates measurable advantages, like progressive solutions, enhanced resilience to offer chain disruptions and cost reduction fueled by increased competitors.[3] Variety and inclusion initiatives also support in attracting new expertise and retaining present talent.

Procurement teams, which usually supply and satisfy all law business seller contracts, are once more preferably positioned to just take on the mantle of raising supplier diversity. They can do so by deliberately concentrating on range in identifying and participating various suppliers and delivering thoughtful and constructive suggestions to future and current suppliers.

Observe that this demands a purposeful stage absent from the proven connections that corporations typically depend on and a broadening of the provider community. Additionally, procurement must meticulously review seller range and governance criteria to make sure that these are not published in such a way that they correctly preclude the use of more compact distributors or suppliers.


No total of preparation can all set us for every problem our regulation firms may perhaps encounter in the foreseeable future, which stays as opaque and unknowable as at any time. But planning for reasonably probable outcomes and recasting ourselves as nimble and versatile presents us the capacity to adapt immediately, even to unexpected activities.

The procurement operate, sitting down at the nerve center of a regulation company, can wield distinctive influence on the firm’s strategic conclusion-creating capacity — but only if it is empowered to do so. By centralizing and strengthening procurement, fostering a lifestyle of agility and advertising supplier range, firms established by themselves up for achievements in excellent periods and in poor.

Lee Garbowitz is controlling director at HBR Consulting LLC.

The opinions expressed are individuals of the creator(s) and do not necessarily mirror the sights of the business, its purchasers or Portfolio Media Inc., or any of its or their respective affiliates. This post is for normal facts reasons and is not supposed to be and should not be taken as legal assistance.

[1] https://spendmatters.com/2018/02/21/4-strategies-legislation-corporations-can-evolve-procurement-methods-outside of-price savings-2018/.

[2] https://info.hbrconsulting.com/2021-regulation-company-procurement-priorities.

[3] https://hbr.org/2020/08/why-you-want-a-provider-diversity-system.

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