Ciaràn Fenton makes a series of very pertinent points in his article "Understanding the needs of in-house counsel". It's a long piece but worth reading to the end.

I saw some of these ideas put into practice in a FTSE100 company's in-house legal department as long ago as the late 1990s, however, so not all these points are wholly new.

That in-house department agreed SLAs with the business units it served. The lawyers all did time sheets, like private practice. Business units were not cross-charged on a time-charge basis at the end of a transaction; instead they were notified of a figure that they would have been charged on, I think I recall rightly, an hourly rate of around £100 an hour and they were informed of how much more this would have cost them if our external lawyers had done the work. The litigation team worked as a "profit-making" arm of the legal department, justifying its existence by recovering money that otherwise would have been written off, for example.

I've not seen other in-house legal departments work in this way so I guess the then GC was ahead of his time?

How many of Ciaràn Fenton's ideas are being implemented in today's in-house departments I wonder? It'd be so interesting to hear from GCs.