Q&A with ACC Value Champions 2013: Seyfarth Shaw
The Association of Corporate Counsel’s Value Challenge recognizes legal service innovations that deliver exceptional value and efficiencies to clients. A collaboration between Seyfarth Shaw and NIKE is one of this year’s success stories.
Seyfarth partners Bob Reynolds and Kevin Woolf describe here how this winning innovation came to be.
Q. Briefly describe the client service innovation for which you were recently recognized by the ACC.
A. Collaborating with NIKE, we developed a proprietary process model and web-based technology solution to handle NIKE’s annual deluge of hundreds of technology-related procurement contracts. This system became known as the Transaction Solutions Center (TSC). At its core, the TSC disaggregates legal services using a shared services platform of in-house, solo, off-shore, and AmLaw 100 providers for cost-efficiency while providing centralized oversight and management for consistent quality and overall workflow management—all with real-time access via computer or mobile devices.
Q. How did this come about?
A. In 2011, NIKE realized its lawyers were spending a significant amount of time handling the intake, triage and management of portfolios of routine work, and that this was inhibiting the in-house team from attending to more complex and higher value work.
NIKE’s Legal Department reached out to us and our SeyfarthLean Consulting team for assistance. We understood their desire to strategically realign the deployment of their lawyers to highly strategic initiatives that best leveraged their skill sets and business know-how, and set out to develop a process model that would achieve this. The use of a web-based solution was a natural fit given the industry’s desire for mobile-friendly applications.
Q. What were the greatest challenges in implementing this innovation?
A. The integration of major process improvement, a robust technology platform and a reallocation of legal services in the form of the TSC was challenging because it changed the dynamics for all involved. In-house counsel’s role shifted from gatekeeper to manager/leader and our role as outside counsel shifted from document creator/negotiator to project manager and strategic partner. Frankly, the model also stands on its head the notion of a large firm trying to be all things to all people—to the contrary, the TSC model embraces the use of “right-sized” providers based on the unique risk profile of a given matter while simultaneously providing for quality and quantity control by keeping all workwithin a single system. Stated differently, the TSC provides a real opportunity to drive meaningful cost savings while still providing “one throat to choke” accountability.
Q. How are you measuring success?
A. We have been closely monitoring a number of metrics related to the TSC, which has yielded notable results:
- Turnaround time been reduced from an average of 15-plus days to 2.6 days, an increase in efficiency of 83%
- 34% of projects completed within 24 hours
- 90% of low- and mid-level projects completed for less than $1,000 in legal spend
Based on these successes, we are currently expanding and modifying the TSC system for NIKE subsidiary Converse.
Q. Other comments?
Large Law Departments are looking ever more to their outside counsel and other providers for cutting edge legal service delivery models. Generally, their focus has been on solutions for large scale complex projects, such as patent infringement cases, cross border transformation initiatives or restructuring activity; Workstream Optimization Programs involving continuing volumes of repetitive activity such as small tort litigation, real estate leasing and IT procurement; and initiatives that include both complexity and process driven activity. Responsive solutions are different for each of these areas of focus. Well-designed program management structures, for example, are often the right answer for evolving the legal service model for complex projects, while process toolkits ensuring a more precise correlation between risk profile and supporting resources usually are the starting point for repetitive Workstream activity. In both cases, the solutions usually can be implemented on an automated platform which further enhances the efficacy of the solution.
Bob Reynolds is a partner with Seyfarth Shaw in Atlanta and chief architect of the TSC for NIKE. He is deeply engaged in harnessing the full capability of SeyfarthLean to support a wide variety of legal work streams across transactional, litigation, regulatory and other special legal disciplines, and he serves on the firm’s leadership team for the deployment of SeyfarthLean to the firm’s client base.
Kevin Woolf is a partner with Seyfarth Shaw in Atlanta, responsible for the day-to-day management of the TSC for NIKE and its subsidiary, Converse. His multi-faceted practice encompasses real estate, sourcing, consulting, and international work, all tied together by a pragmatic approach that seeks to streamline existing processes to maximize efficiency and minimize cycle-time via the firm’s SeyfarthLean client service model.
The Association of Corporate Counsel is a global bar association promoting the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations and other private-sector organizations through information, education, networking opportunities and advocacy initiatives. ACC has more than 30,000 members in more than 75 countries, employed by over 10,000 organizations. The Value Champions initiative is part of the ACC Value Challenge, launched in 2008 to provide resources and training for in-house counsel and law firm lawyers to help affect change within the legal industry. By re-aligning relationships and promoting value-based fee arrangements and other management tactics, the market for the delivery of legal services benefits from the same insights upon which every other service industry relies to provide world-class value to their clients. Nominations for next year’s Value Champions will be accepted starting in December 2013 through February 7, 2014.
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