Legal Operations » Law Firm Panel Management Key Strategy For Legal Department Cost Control

Law Firm Panel Management Key Strategy For Legal Department Cost Control

February 20, 2024

Law Firm Panel Management Key Strategy For Legal Department Cost Control

A primary goal for Legal Ops leaders is to control outside counsel costs, with 78 percent of legal departments considering it a high priority. The 2023 Legal Department Operations Index report states that a quarter of respondents are exploring law firm convergence or preferred panel programs as a key strategy for cost control, according to a Priori Legal blog post. 

When implementing a law firm panel program, the process begins by collecting quantitative and qualitative data from current law firm partners. Organizing this data is crucial for in-house counsel and Legal Ops teams during discussions with members of the law firm panel. 

Three Legal Ops leaders — Karen Helten from Salesforce, John Crawshaw from PNC, and Juanita Luna from Luna Legal Ops — shared insights about law firm panel management and how to measure program success.

The first step in managing the program is to ensure that both legal team members and law firm partners can easily grasp the data that was collected. A one-page summary or dashboard is ideal. Key information includes accruals, staffing ratios, invoice timeliness, hygiene, forecasting, performance metrics, market benchmarks, diversity, and pro bono efforts.

Ongoing management involves continuous analysis, regular meetings with panel firms, and data-driven conversations. These interactions, led mainly by in-house counsel, contribute to the success of a panel program, fostering cost savings, efficiency, and stronger relationships. Legal Ops takes a supporting role in these check-ins, allowing in-house attorneys to manage relationships while aligning with departmental goals.

Measuring the success of a law firm panel program involves both hard (quantitative) and soft (qualitative) results. Hard results include cost savings, changes in outside spend, and increased internal efficiency. Soft results focus on aspects like attorney satisfaction, expertise availability, and the strategic insights provided by law firms. Regular evaluations based on these metrics inform ongoing panel management strategies, emphasizing the importance of data tracking for continuous improvement.

Daily Updates

Sign up for our free daily newsletter for the latest news and business legal developments.

Scroll to Top