As companies grow and face increasingly complex legal issues, they often find it beneficial to establish a formal legal panel, which is a group of law firms or individual lawyers who are pre-approved to provide legal services to the company.
However, managing a legal panel can be challenging, requiring careful planning and execution to ensure the company receives high-quality legal services while also maximising efficiency and controlling costs.
This article will discuss some best practices for selecting and managing a legal panel.
Before establishing a legal panel, you must clearly understand your legal needs and the criteria for selecting law firms or lawyers to be included. Consider the types of legal issues you will likely encounter, the required expertise, and the geographic areas in which you operate.
When selecting firms or lawyers for your panel, you should also consider factors such as cost, responsiveness, and communication skills. By defining your needs and criteria upfront, you can ensure that you select the best possible candidates for your panel.
Once you have defined your legal needs and selection criteria, it is time to conduct a thorough selection process to identify potential candidates for your legal panel. Consider using a request for proposal (RFP) process to solicit proposals from law firms or individual lawyers.
The RFP should include detailed information about your legal needs, selection criteria, and proposal submission instructions. The RFP process allows you to evaluate potential law firms based on their responses to your specific requirements. It also ensures a consistent and objective method for selecting panel members.
Once you have selected your legal panel members, it is essential to establish clear expectations and guidelines for their performance. This includes setting KPIs around fees, communication, responsiveness, and quality of work.
You should also establish guidelines around conflicts of interest, confidentiality, and billing practices. By setting clear expectations and procedures, you can ensure that all panel members are aligned with your company’s goals and priorities and are committed to providing optimal legal services.
Regular performance monitoring and evaluation are crucial for ensuring they meet your expectations relating to the delivery of legal services. Consider implementing a performance management plan with regular feedback sessions, formal reviews, and ongoing communication.
This should include data reporting and metrics for evaluating performance, such as fee management, responsiveness, quality of work, and client satisfaction. By regularly monitoring and assessing the panel member’s performance, you can identify areas for improvement and ensure that all members meet your company’s needs.
Collaboration and communication can help maximise efficiency and ensure your company receives the best legal services. Encourage collaboration on projects and share information and best practices. You can also facilitate communication by establishing regular meetings or conference calls to discuss legal issues or areas of concern on ongoing projects.
By encouraging collaboration and communication, you can ensure that all panel members align with your company’s goals and priorities and work together to deliver the best possible service.
Your company’s legal needs and priorities may change over time. It is essential to regularly review and update your legal panel to ensure that it continues to meet your needs. Consider conducting a periodic review of your law firms, including their performance and the services they provide.
Periodically soliciting proposals from new law firms or individual lawyers allows for benchmarking to ensure you have the best candidates for your panel. Regularly reviewing and updating your legal panel ensures that it meets expectations, business needs, and goals.
Managing a legal panel is a complex and challenging task requiring various skills and expertise. By following these best practices, organisations can establish effective legal panel management processes that help them achieve their objectives while reducing costs and increasing efficiency.
By selecting the right legal providers, it is possible to create a legal panel that delivers high-quality legal services, meets the company’s needs, and supports its long-term success. With these best practices in mind, legal panel management can be a successful and rewarding experience for in-house legal teams and legal services providers alike.
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