The end of ‘more for less’

More for less is a bit outdated, don’t you think?

We in the legal industry have been subservient to this idea for a long time.

But today I submit to you that ‘more for less’ is even worse than outdated.

This phrase is practically criminal.

It’s the mantra of managers with spreadsheets, who slice budgets and demand efficiency.

It’s the marketing-speak of legal tech sales teams, who couch airy promises in context they don’t understand.

And it’s the bedrock of all bad ‘innovation’, which creates solutions to problems we don’t have.

More for less is a trap.

And it has consumed the legal industry for far too long.

Why on earth should we want more for less?

We want more for more.

Because the value of lawyers is going up. And the amount of legal work is skyrocketing.

More Law

The mechanics of this are quite simple:

  1. Laws and regulations are more and more complex
  2. The obligations of businesses are rapidly expanding (see ESG)
  3. The cost of doing something wrong has exploded (see cancel culture)
  4. The velocity of legal need has increased (we need lighting fast answers to legal questions in this digital world)

Organisations have higher quantities of increasingly valuable legal needs.

But at the same time, many legal teams are being stifled.

In practice

Imagine you’re an esteemed lawyer, a general counsel of a large company.

You’ve spent many years honing your expertise and crafting your legal knowledge

You are an esteemed trainer of other lawyers, upholding the apprenticeship model in a corporatised world.

Like many of your peers, you face an unenviable boiling pot of:

  1. 85% of GC’s are having difficulty handling current workloads;
  2. The workload is projected to increase by 25% during the next 3 years;
  3. 88% of GC’s report plans to reduce their budgets in response to escalating pressure from the C-Suite and Board to do so;
  4. Among large corporations (>$20B annual revenue), the C-Suite mandated legal cost takeout has jumped from 11% in 2019 to 18% in 2021.

At the same time, your legal budget represents a small fraction (often less than 1%) of your organisations’ expenditure.

And now you are being asked to do more, even more, with less?

I think it’s time we took a hard look at that phrase. I don’t think it’s making much sense.

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Sam Duncan

Sam Duncan

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