How In-House Legal Teams Can Win with Tighter Budgets During COVID-19 (Adv.)

Tighter Budget

In early March, Exterro, the leader in privacy and e-discovery software, partnered with Corporate Counsel Business Journal (CCBJ) for our 4th Annual Study of Effective Legal Spend Management, which takes a closer look at the budgetary plans and hurdles that in-house legal departments are juggling, and how their strategies for the coming year reflect their expectations. It’s fair to say that few imagined they’d be in the situations they’re in now. These 52 legal departments from businesses of all sizes were mostly looking at techniques for control their spend prior to the COVID-19 crisis; now, some departments may be looking at emergency measures. This was only two months ago, but life is very different now—particularly the business environment, which has rapidly shed jobs since then. So how does this survey data relate to COVID-19 concerns?

If anything, it amplifies strategies and changes that were already underway before the crisis, namely: Moving more operations in-house and utilizing technology to improve process efficiencies and cut costs. Let’s take a closer look at the three key takeaways from the survey data:

  1. A comprehensive strategy for managing legal spend across organizational units that report to the GC/CLO is important, but not utilized everywhere. According to the survey data, only 64% of respondents have a comprehensive strategy for their legal budgets. Taking into account where most risk for increased spending is projected to occur—litigation (51%) and compliance (22%)—can help departments seek solutions that create efficiencies where they’re most needed.
  2. Data privacy regulation compliance is a top priority for most. With the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) going into full effect July 1 of this year, 71% of legal departments considered data privacy compliance to be mission-critical. However, 65% say that their spending on privacy compliance will actually decrease year over year, possibly due to a lack of insight and transparency into how much was spent (or perhaps wasted) last year.
  3. Doing more in-house is the answer for teams seeking to minimize their e-discovery spend. Here’s a big one—legal departments are finding that the three most effective techniques to reducing their e-discovery spend are:
    • Using e-discovery technology to create time and cost savings, which allows….
    • …in-house teams to utilize that technology to do more work in-house, which cuts costs for….
    • …third-party services, for which in-house teams are now relying on single preferred providers to complete (if the work is outsourced at all).

You can read the full 4th Annual Study of Effective Legal Spend Management, along with the complete set of survey results, by downloading the report.

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