Everybody Hurts: 5 Pain Points The Modern General Counsel Faces

Identifying the problems is the easy part, smart strategies to overcome them is what makes great leaders.

My formative years were influenced heavily by Athens, Ga.-based rock band R.E.M. Fronted by the unmistakable Michael Stipe, R.E.M. got me through some ups and downs in college, including their hit Everybody Hurts. (Don’t judge.)

Listen, forget your stereotypes about data companies. We’re a sensitive crew at Bodhala. We don’t have much tolerance for nonsense. We have a word to describe the problems we all have to deal with: friction.

From Bodhala’s interviews and analysis of hundreds of legal departments, there are common points of friction between legal and the C-suite. Here are the top five:

1- Legal budget is locked, with little flexibility

CLOs and GCs struggle to manage and display data about the legal department in order to expand their value in the boardroom. Lazy thinkers say the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. But we both know in 2019 the data and computing power exists to give leverage back to the legal department by showing the ability to create, defend, and manage to a budget.

Bodhala can help

We analyze, identify and clearly translate every bit of your spend, arming you with the most precise forecasts possible, increasing your value and leverage in the C-Suite.

2- Can’t efficiently direct recurring spend

Every company has operating legal expenses like employment work, corporate board work, and real estate work. But these costs often fluctuate: rate increases, staffing inefficiencies, and other inexplicable billing practices by outside counsel limit the ability to control costs. It’s a constant frustration.

Bodhala can help

Our platform identifies your most cost-effective firms and analyzes every facet of your legal spend: matter taxonomy, rates, staffing, credentials, your billing and more.

3- Can’t manage for non-recurring work or ensure it’s being handled well and efficiently

Unexpected legal work, like litigation or M&A,  is often seen as so high-value by legal departments that many feel they cannot negotiate on equal terms with outside counsel, manage to a budget or ensure that the matter is handled efficiently and effectively.  

For example, your corporate dev team has an idea for a merger and wants to use your go-to firm for the matter.

Bodhala can help

By showing you through data analytics that this firm is too large for the low complexity of the matter, our data shows this thinking is wrong. Managing unexpected coursework proactively and efficiently on our platform allows departments to generate cost savings and highlight avoidances.

4- Rates are not in line with the market

The legal industry’s rate structures are historically opaque. This gives internal legal departments no ability to understand if they are paying premium or market rates. Also, sneaky billing techniques allow a firm to realize hidden rate increases.

Bodhala can help

Bodhala analyzes the entirety of a legal department’s outside spending and ensures you are getting defensible market rates and gives you the tools to cut the perpetual rate increases that law firms think is their divine right.

5- Right balance between outside counsel and in-house counsel and alternative legal service providers

Some work is better done by in-house counsel or other resources such as LPOs instead of outside counsel.  With knowledge of best in class practice and the ability to analyze behavior of law firms, legal departments can create efficient roadmaps for how their work should be done.

Bodhala can help

Bodhala clients have created roadmaps to precisely guide how recurring corporate work should be directed – what types of documents should be done by junior associates, what type of diligence should be done by a sophisticated ALSP, and what negotiations should be conducted by partners.  

These are just a few of the most common concerns. Let’s get in touch and talk about how we can reduce your in-house friction.

Also, it is a shame that people forget the legacy of 1992’s Automatic for the People. Do give it a listen.

Raj Goyle is co-CEO of Bodhala, Inc. Before co-founding the company, he was the business and philanthropic adviser to the family office of Donald and Shelley Rubin. Previously he was a state representative and candidate for Congress in Kansas. He has served both as a senior fellow and a senior policy analyst at the Center for American Progress. Raj is cofounder and chair of the Indian American Impact Project, a board member of the NYC Coalition Against Hunger and NewDEAL Democrats. He earned his B.A. from Duke University and J.D. from Harvard University. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and kids who don’t share his taste in music.