Here’s the bad news: a recent survey conducted by EY Law and the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession found that “General Counsel expect workloads to increase by 25% over the next three years, yet 75% don’t expect budgets to keep pace.” If those statistics bear up, it will be even more crucial for law departments to figure out how to do more with less.

How can law departments address this coming crunch? Our customers have found success by outsourcing lower value run-the-company work. That term refers to all of the business-as-usual work that can bog down a law department. This work, if handled internally, occupies significant time of in-house staff without providing a commensurate value to the company. Having it handled by one or more outside firms is expensive and requires in-house staff to spend precious time managing the outside attorneys involved.

Since launching ElevateNext in 2018, our focus has been on run-the-company matters. That’s because of our unique position in the legal industry -- we are a law firm affiliated with the global law company, Elevate. As such, our sweet spot is tackling large matters that require practising lawyers for some part of the work, but that can also benefit from a global bench of other professionals to do some aspect of the work at our oversight, all at lower price point than the traditional law firm model. The run-the-company work we’ve chosen to focus on includes handling litigation portfolios, prelitigation disputes, internal investigations, subpoena or law enforcement responses; providing compliance and privacy advice and support; and any matters that need to be lawyer-led but not handled entirely by lawyers.

We know from our customers that providing a cost-effective solution to this type of work is important, and there is plenty of low hanging fruit. Outsourcing the work of responding to third-party subpoena requests is a perfect example. Many companies receive thousands of subpoenas each year; most of them handle this work in-house and manually. The task occupies a significant amount of time for in-house staff even though the company is not a party to the dispute giving rise to the subpoena in the overwhelming majority of instances.

Given such a minimal return on the investment of in-house staff’s time, many of our customers have sought our help to streamline this work. In response, we designed a lawyer-led, tech-driven Subpoena Response service to handle all aspects of responding to third-party subpoenas, from receipt to production. Using technology specifically designed for this purpose, we streamline intake, triage, communications with issuing counsel, tracking and reporting. This alone saves large amounts of time.

Our lawyers also negotiate the narrowest scope possible, and we recover costs for the responses when possible. Typically, that is money left on the table by companies, yet it can add up to a significant amount for companies with a large volume of subpoenas.

The greatest benefit of providing a cost-effective solution to run-the-company work like responding to third-party subpoenas is that it frees up in-house staff time to focus on far more valuable endeavours. Given the deluge of additional work flooding most law departments, along with intensifying budget pressure, having those extra in-house resources is crucial. Tackling the run-the-company work is among the easiest ways for law departments to ensure they operate efficiently and cost-effectively for years to come.