Stout’s Legal Managed Services practice aids corporate counsel and law firms with managing their business, allowing legal professionals to focus on their core competencies while delegating operational or difficult-to-manage tasks to an external provider. This can lead to cost savings, increased efficiency, and improved quality of legal services.
Jim Mitchell and Stacie Neeter, Managing Directors in the Legal Management Consulting practice, have built a service-centric team designed to be a trusted advisor for legal departments. Now, that team will be leveraging extensive consulting experience to serve clients through legal managed services. We sat down with Jim and Stacie to understand the benefits of shifting to a managed services model, what to look for when contemplating the shift, and specific areas in which the Stout Legal Management Consulting team can provide value to legal organizations.
What relevant experience do you have in providing legal managed services, and what sets you apart from other providers?
Jim Mitchell: We have spent decades selecting, implementing, and running legal systems as an extension of the corporate legal team.
Legal departments today are challenged with keeping the right resources in house while also ensuring proper management and career progression amidst tight budgets. An emphasis on maintaining the proper lawyer mix and risk management can also distract from properly staffing an in-house role.
Other complexities include support often coming from IT with rotating resources and paralegal resources who may not have the technical interest, training, or mentorship.
Due to our familiarity with market-leading systems, we bring best practices and an operational discipline that compliments the core focus of the legal department.
What type of clients should seek out this offering and why? Are others in the industry moving toward this model?
Stacie Neeter: This service is designed for clients who are struggling with optimizing headcount, increasing value and adoption of systems, and scaling on industry knowledge in a predictable cost fashion.
Large organizations with significant staff need this service as much as companies with fewer resources. Both groups understand the difficulty of attracting the right talent when it comes to pay, growth, and path within the organization. Legal managed services can alleviate this burden by reducing the need for in-house talent without compromising progress or sacrificing operational efficiency.
Procurement teams have stated that elevated technology support subscriptions are becoming increasingly commonplace. With the continued move to the cloud, internal IT resources that used to play this role are now being offset with this external cost model.
While competitors tout managed services that frequently involve data management, our services uniquely blend subject matter expertise and project management with an understanding of the underlying company and its specific needs.
What’s your initial process for delivering legal managed services, from initial consultation to ongoing support?
Jim Mitchell: Our process is centered on maximizing the value in technology. The hard work starts after the implementation when governance, care, and the ability for continuous improvement take center stage. We build upon the implementation by providing a package that includes a framework for optimizing the process and software usage, with ongoing training in light of the roles and responsibilities needed for post-implementation success.
By acting as an extension of the in-house team, we provide an economical solution that can boost external market awareness, incorporate best practices, and yield efficiency through software without distracting the team from their day job.
What specific legal support services do you offer? How can they benefit companies of different sizes and industries?
Stacie Neeter: We offer consulting services around legal operations, discovery, and legal technology.
We emphasize the department’s processes, source of work, organizational design, dashboards and financial metrics, rate benchmarking, cost savings opportunities, and preferred provider management.
We offer services around defining a repeatable process through playbooks and templates, and we ensure roles and responsibilities are well defined and focused on internal coverage. Additionally, we partner with vendors and law firms to ensure the right cost models and technology is in place, and we ensure the data involved in litigation and investigations is well managed throughout the process.
We assist with building the business case for technology by defining and prioritizing requirements to select the right systems. We spend the majority of our time developing business processes, working with IT on system integrations, and designing a change management strategy to encourage a well-adopted system in the long term.
How do you customize your services to the unique needs of each client?
Jim Mitchell: When designing our process improvement and software enhancements for the client’s workflow, we always keep the return on investment, ease of adoption, and improvements to efficiency at the top of our priority list. While the particular client circumstances and culture varies, our results are consistent across our client base, who regularly commend us on delivering “the best legal technology implementation we have had here.”
What types of support do you offer to help clients maximize the benefits of your legal managed services?
Stacie Neeter: We work with the client to match the size of their needs to the services we offer. In the end, the client may take advantage of the full use of our team, fractional use, or a multi-faceted approach. We work to strike a balance between operational and advisory services that fit our client’s culture.
How do you measure the success and value of your legal managed services?
Jim Mitchell: We provide regular reporting on the success factors that we jointly create with the client at the start of the engagement. These include system usage, cycle times, license management, vendor ticketing metrics, enhancement tracking, roadmap awareness, and user training statistics. We are also proud that many of our clients ask us to stick around and continue to help.
How do you stay up to date with industry trends to ensure clients receive the most effective services?
Stacie Neeter: We regularly lead system selection projects for clients and have sandbox environments for the technologies we support, allowing for regular testing and improving of the software’s processes beforehand to ensure seamless implementation. In addition to this, we attend industry events and conferences, and we host regular team training sessions on best practices, market trends, and client experience standards.
How are you planning to grow or expand the practice in the near and long term?
Jim Mitchell: In the near term, we are focusing on contract lifecycle management (CLM), managed services, and information governance and privacy consulting. CLM provides significant value as it impacts organizations of all sizes and touches many departments within those organizations.
Our managed services solution is designed for organizations with limited or stretched internal staff to support and continuously improve both their CLM and legal hold technologies. Information governance and privacy has become increasingly important due to a heightened regulatory environment and the preponderance of data and cybersecurity threats. Organizations are focusing on data as the critical asset to keep safe and well managed.