An in-house attorney plays multiple, important roles in a company. Given the unique nature of her position, it is very difficult to gauge the effectiveness or success of the general counsel in her responsibilities. Commonly, a counsel’s success is measured by specific duties being completed on time and by nothing bad (in the legal sense) happening on the attorney’s watch. These simple assessment measures, however, fail to fully capture the impact and effectiveness that a counsel can have on the organization.
To make the process of understanding how to gauge the performance of an in-house counsel easier, this article identified several key performance indicators (KPIs). Observing these attorney attributes or performance metrics will help you in determining the value delivered by your in-house counsel.
Begin with the Role of an In-House Counsel
The first level of assessment is to identify the core functions of the counsel. The in-house counsel serves three distinct roles in the company – advisor, representative, and service provider.
Advisor – As legal advisor to the company, the counsel will provide legal guidance on any number of operational, financial, or administrative scenarios the company faces. The type of legal advice will vary depending on the nature of the company and the individual employees seeking guidance. This position generally requires proficiency in research and the ability to communicate legal concepts clearly to non-legal professionals.
Representative – The general counsel serves as the company’s representative for all legal matters in which the company is implicated. This will generally mean working without outside professionals on legal matters. Notably, the attorney will hire outside counsel when necessary. She will play professional client for the company and relay the status and progress in any legal matter to the company executives.
Legal Service Provider – The counsel will perform legal services for the company. The type of legal services depends upon the nature of the company’s business. These are services related to the routine functions of the company. In any company, the counsel would likely be involved in contract review and drafting, corporate governance practices, claims practice, and employment law.
Key Performance Indicators
Now that we understand the role of the in-house counsel, we can then identify metrics related to that specific function. These metrics can be quantitative and qualitative.
KPIs for an Advisor – As an advisor, a quantitative assessment might be the number of incidences where counsel’s advice either gave rise to or avoided a legal issue. Advice giving rise to a legal issue might be a negative indication, whereas avoidance of a legal issues would be positive. Obviously, the former is far easier to track than the later. A qualitative assessment might include the gravity of legal issues arising or avoided. Another qualitative assessment might include opinions of the counsel’s advice from professionals working directly with the counsel.
KPIs for a Legal Representative – A quantitative measure might include the number of outside engagements the counsel has with third parties regarding legal matters. For example, how many claims or legal disputes is the counsel managing? How many transactions, such as debt or equity issuance, has the counsel aided or managed. A qualitative measure might be the gravity or importance of the legal actions or transactions being managed. Another qualitative measure would be the opinion of third-party professionals, such as outside counsel, on the counsel’s performance. Performance could be assessed as opinion on proficiency, efficiency, and personality.
KPIs for a Service Provider – It may be useful to keep track of the total hours the counsel spends on legal services for the company. These hours are easily translated to a dollar value if these same services were performed by outside counsel. Of course, this assumes that the efficiency of the inside and outside counsels are similar. A qualitative assessment might regard inside client satisfaction with the attorney’s performance. For example, if the counsel drafted a contract for in-house use by a specific department, how happy are the individuals in that department in working with the attorney and the quality of the work product?
LawTrades Knows In-House Counsel
If you need more information or help developing KPIs for your in-house counsel, contact the professionals at LawTrades. Our experts understand the role of the in-house counsel and can help you find the legal employees you need.