A Prioritization Framework for Legal Departments

How do you prioritize legal requests to ensure that your Legal Department is addressing its matter management needs in the most effective manner possible?

Understatement: In-house legal teams are very busy. This can include everything from an existential organizational crisis to very small rubber-stamping contract review, and a myriad of variations in between. Knowing which item to review and digest first, then delegate or resolve (or delete) can be time consuming and – frankly – lead to a meltdown within the first hour of every day.

If you take a “next in line” or “squeakiest wheel” approach to your prioritization, you will most certainly not be investing your intellectual resources where they will have the biggest impact. And let’s face it, regardless of whether your corporate in-house Legal Department is big or small, you have finite resources that need to stretch as far as possible.

So how do you prioritize legal requests to ensure that your Legal Department is addressing its matter management needs in the most effective manner possible?

For strategic value

Your CEO, CFO and all stakeholders want you focused where you will have the biggest impact on the strategic goals of the company. These strategic goals have been carefully crafted, debated and selected by your organization’s Board, and the C-Suite has been entrusted with the execution; the entirety of your stakeholders are invested in some way in seeing those strategic goals move forward.

Xakia uses this prioritization framework to help you meet the expectations of your stakeholders. By rating your work for ‘strategic value’ on a scale of 0 to 10, with one click you can identify and prioritize this work within the context of the broader body of legal work.

For example, large M&A activity might launch your organization into a new market or geography and therefore rate at the top end of this metric, but a large, complex litigation may not enhance strategic goals and work as a distractor of strategic focus. Perhaps this work needs to be resourced in an alternative manner.

legal matter management software - strategic value scale

This is not to say that you can neglect business-as-usual work. Strategic value can include both major projects and also reflect ‘commercial value’. To that end, this one slider might consider the following ratings:

0 = No commercial or strategic impact.

1 - 2 = Some commercial impact; no strategic impact.

3 - 4 = Commercial and/or strategic impact, at a departmental/state level.

5 - 6 = Material commercial and/or strategic impact at a business unit/functional/country level.

7 - 8 = Material commercial and/or strategic impact at an Executive Team level.

9 - 10 = Material commercial and/or strategic impact at a Company-wide (Board/MD&CEO) level.

Though this metric can be captured in an instant, the prioritization opportunities are extraordinary – see Xakia quadrant and GO RIGHT. Spend all your time where it will have the most impact (and yes, that means you need to work out how to resource the other work!).

Xakia quadrant - complexity and strategy

Then risk (or the nebulous ‘priority’ rating)

What cannot be completely ignored, however, is risk. Just because something isn’t a strategic priority, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t carry risk, and won’t blow up and put your organization in the hot seat. As the Legal Department, it is your job to keep tabs on major legal risk. Rating your matters by ‘risk’ (low, medium, high, critical) will give you the opportunity to highlight those that are ‘high’ or ‘critical’ in an instant to ensure that these do not get neglected in your prioritization framework.

legal matter management software - risk filter

Note that Xakia allows you to use a ‘priority’ rating instead of ‘risk’. This is not, of itself, a prioritization framework but does give you some freedom to decide on prioritization for yourself. In this scenario, you will need to ensure that your priority rating is consistent across the team.

Then urgency

And – of course – the overlay is always ‘urgency’: when is the work required? Somewhat related to this is a question of ‘size’ and how long or how many resources are required to get something completed. Managing your prioritization within that context requires another layer of analysis – in a blog to follow in the future!

Xakia legal matter management software - priority reports

To learn more about Xakia's legal matter management software, get in touch with the team today for a demo, or sign up for a free 14-day trial.

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