Purchasing

As I read more about this topic, I learned that there was one consulting firm,  Argopoint, whose sole focus is to help companies effectively manage the costs of outside counsel.  I spoke with Jason Winmill, a partner at Argopoint. He has worked with several clients to not only reduce the number of outside firms that a client might utilize, but also reduce costs and maintain high quality services.

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Argopoint Consulting - Reducing Legal Costs for Corporate Clients

December 2010.  Reprinted with permission of Purchasing Magazine.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart noticed that the salaries for associates in their outside legal firms (“relationship partners”) were approaching $160,000 annually.

As I read more about this topic, I learned that there was one consulting firm, Argopoint, whose sole focus is to help companies effectively manage the costs of outside counsel.  I spoke with Jason Winmill, a partner at Argopoint.  He has worked with several clients to not only reduce the number of outside firms that a client might utilize, but also reduce costs and maintain high quality services.

Miguel Rivera, Sr., associate general counsel for Wal-Mart delivered this sharp message; “We are today announcing a moratorium on across-the-board rate increases.”  

Add high legal fees to death and taxes as inevitability in our life/work journey. 

How does Argopoint help Fortune 500 corporate clients reduce outside counsel costs?  Believe it or not, the old-fashioned purchasing way: establishing a structured sourcing process and actively managing performance.  And they have reduced outside counsel costs at many of the country's most respected legal departments.

Jason Winmill, Partner at Argopoint, and I discussed some specific strategies that can be used to manage legal expenses more effectively.  They included: 

  • Identifying and selecting the most efficient law firm and team of outside attorneys for the specific legal matter vs. relying on entrenched relationships or long standing reputations. 
  • Shifting work, when appropriate, away from premium-priced law firms based in NYC, Chicago and Los Angeles, to qualified firms in less expensive areas such as the Midwest, the Southeast, and other lower cost geographies.
  • Managing staffing on legal matters to ensure that the work is performed by appropriately qualified, but more junior staff, at lower rates. 

Savings on legal fees?  Sounds like a worthy 2008 objective to me.  If you aren't looking at reducing legal costs, and consulting experts, such as Argopoint, perhaps you should be.

Original article by

Ray Mazzoleni, Corporate Strategic Sourcing at Genzyme Corp

Ray has extensive purchasing and contracts management experience working with start up and Fortune 500 organizations in high tech and service industries.  Ray is a lifetime Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) through the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) and has served on the Board of Directors of the Purchasing Management Association of Boston (PMAB).

ARGOPOINT WEIGHS IN

Outside law firms are often eager to do business with corporate clients.  By creating a structured sourcing strategy and a related process, a message is sent that law firms need to be competitive to succeed.  By simply considering other firms as an option, "incumbent" firms your company has used in the past will feel less certain about regular, across the board rate hikes.  Furthermore, when companies examine their options honestly, they are likely to find firms that they like and are potentially more productive.  Why should in-house counsel be bound to outside counsel, when there is a good chance for greater value when you shop around?

 

 

But finding viable alternative firms is not easy or apparent.  The Argopoint process is built around researching and identifying robust, attractive viable alternatives.  The results?  Savings of often 20% in some practice areas.

Even in this changing legal environment, Argopoint's clients stay at the forefront of corporate innovation.   We founded Argopoint to meet this unfilled, but nonetheless real, need articulated by our core clients: providing top corporate legal departments with innovative management strategies to run large, challenging professional infrastructures that were under pressure to deliver results and increased economic efficiency. Our mission is to improve the effectiveness of even the most capable legal organizations.

Our clients depend on us to provide highly innovative, effective and industry-leading results. We combine evidence-based analytics with in-depth industry experience to deliver solutions that can be executed to achieve measurable, timely impact.  Though we pride ourselves on our proven quantitative and analytical techniques, we recognize that numbers and statistics never tell the whole story in the legal context. We perform a robust top-to-bottom assessment of every client’s specific situation and environment to reach a solution supported by facts, data and industry insight.

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