Today’s law department operations professionals report that they are actually delivering less savings than from a decade ago, according to new research.
The 10th Anniversary Report of the Law Department Operations Survey noted that fewer savings being made by today’s LDO professionals could be due to a “shifting of focus past financial discipline and towards other points of value”.
The research outlined that in 2008, 27 per cent of LDO professionals saved 1–10 per cent, 28 per cent saved 11–25 per cent, 23 per cent saved 25–50 per cent and 15 per cent saved over 50 per cent.
However, in 2017, savings across those four categories changed, with more savings made at the lower end of the spectrum and fewer at the top end.
Last year, 33 per cent of LDO professionals saved between 1–10 per cent, 40 per cent saved 11–25 per cent, and then just 11 per cent saved 25–50 per cent, leaving just nine per cent saving over 50 per cent.
“With departments as a whole getting more attuned to cost savings and firms getting better at working under these new terms, LDO professionals are looking elsewhere to find improvements,” the survey detailed.
“The legal ops function is pushing legal spending down – but it should, as this has been a focus for a long time.”
As LDO professionals are forcing a more systematic approach to the buying of legal services, the survey went on, law firms are responding with new innovation, pricing, process and operations roles that were almost non-existent a few years ago.
These roles are, at times, starting to be considered as “critical management positions”, it wrote.
That being said, while “they may have a reputation for believing that law firms are not listening”, a majority of LDO professionals actually do believe that their firms make a strong effort to understand their financial and management needs, the survey noted, with 59 per cent saying outside counsel generally make strong efforts to understand the problems faced by a legal department.