Between juggling legal issues, mentoring upcoming attorneys, and negotiating the relationship between the legal department and the rest of a corporation, managers of corporate legal departments often find that budgeting falls to the bottom of the priority list. However, the corporate budget can be crucial to a legal department’s success – especially in tough economic times, when profits may decrease as costs continue to rise.
For managers unused to navigating budgets, resources exist to guide internal legal budget development and encourage legal departments to work as efficiently as possible within their means. To take charge of your department’s budget, consider the following tips:
- Talk to your staffing partner. Recruiters are experts at far more than merely suggesting job-seekers for open legal positions. With their fingers on the pulse of their respective fields, they are also invaluable sources of information on budgeting, profitability, and other pressing issues. Your staffing partner can help you find the revenue-generating team members you need while also working within your budget.
- Use the bills as a guide to the budget. During the bill review process, use the bill information as a guide both to assessing the current budget and creating future budgets. Also, look for ways to reduce costs and to generate additional revenue. Quantifying the department’s costs and its successes in this way can help you control costs and justify budget increases within the organization as a whole.
- Measure time spent to facilitate improvement. When it comes to analyzing revenue generation, one advantage private firms have over corporate legal departments is their reliance on the billable hour. Billing time spent means keeping track of time spent, which generates instant data about effectiveness and efficiency for each attorney. Even if your department doesn’t need to track time to bill, track it to facilitate improvement in efficiency.
- Make sure your numbers are accurate. An accurate accounting of a corporate legal department’s costs is key to producing a budget that works for the department, and it is also key to working within the budget of the organization as a whole. The more quantifiable data you can gather, the better your numbers will be – and the better your planning and results will be as well.
At Assigned Counsel, our experienced staffing partners match top candidates to positions in law firms and legal departments, keeping all of our clients’ needs in mind. Contact Assigned Counsel today.