“… we are being asked to do less with less”, Ann Klee of GE

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Work in the legal profession for more than 5 minutes and you’ll hear someone say that clients today are asking the law firm to do “more for less“. It is probably one of the fastest terms to become a cliché in the English language.

So imagine my delight, when watching a video of a presentation given by Ann Klee, VP of Global Operations — Environment, Health & Safety, at General Electric Company at the recent Big Law Business Summit, in describing how (in part) GE managed to reduce its outside legal spend by $60 million in a year, she says that the bottom line is that the role of a lawyer today is about managing more risk, it’s not about just being asked to do more for less, it’s being asked to do less with less (see 16 minutes and 15 seconds into video).

This absolutely spot on.

Law firms today need to:

  • partner with the business to empower their clients,
  • always be looking to deliver on outcomes, not to be following procedure for procedure’s sake (or, worse, following procedure to blow out legal fees),
  • through the use of legal project management, agile or some other mechanism that works for you: identify and eliminate any workflows that are adding no value to the deal/advice.

In short: we need to be doing ‘less for less‘, but we need to be doing it in such a way that is “faster, better, and smarter” for our clients.

At the end of the day, clients like GE are already doing this – so law firms today can either get on board with solving their clients’ problems from their clients’ perspective, at a standard of accountability that their clients are being held to; or they face the very real prospect of becoming irrelevant.

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