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Efficient Cooperation Between Companies And external Law Firms

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The corona pandemic is causing turmoil worldwide and has had a massive impact on economic activity.

Internal legal departments are therefore facing new challenges. On the one hand, companies are cutting their budgets for legal services, and on the other hand, the complexity and amount of legal issues is increasing.

In-house lawyers have to minimize their costs while also reducing the work pressure on their teams.

Especially in times of crisis, legal departments question their cooperation with external law firms and look for flexible, efficient and timely solutions for legal issues.

In the following, we will discuss the criteria companies might use to select external legal advisors, how outsourcing of legal services can be more cost-efficient and how corporate lawyers and law firms are developing a common agenda.

Changes on the corporate side

In general, the last few years have seen an increase in legal work and complex new issues for in-house counsel.

This is mainly due to general corporate growth. In order to deal with this additional workload, corporate lawyers rely on the in-depth expertise of external law firms.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that companies are now under even greater pressure to deal with growing legal risks while at the same time increasing their efficiency.

Complex legal requirements also stress the need for legal advice.

The constantly increasing cost pressure within companies requires effective cost management when hiring external law firms.

This means that legal departments have to deliver a higher performance with reduced budgets.

Law firms are therefore challenged to produce better, faster and cheaper solutions to complex legal issues.

In order to achieve this, legal departments are forced to constantly optimize their operational framework when cooperating with law firms.

As a result, the purchasing departments of large companies have recently been more involved in the processes of cooperation with external law firms.

They support the General Counsel in operational tasks such as the selection and purchase of legal services as well as the subsequent management of the commissioned law firms.

Overall, these processes have become more professional, as companies have become more demanding and attach great importance to increased efficiency.

The higher expectations towards external legal services are mainly a result of the positioning of the General Counsel within the company.

His role has continuously gained in importance, as he reports directly to the management and is seen as a businessman with legal expertise.

In addition to legal assessment, he is also expected to make economic decisions.

One of his numerous tasks is to increase the efficiency of the legal department and at the same time minimize the costs of external legal services.

Selection criteria of companies 

The procurement of legal services by companies has changed in various ways in recent years and will probably continue to do so.

In particular, the selection process has become more differentiated and professional.

Companies not only select on the basis of professional competence, reference, recommendation and reputation but also include many other service criteria in their decision such as communication skills, soft skills and the use of project management expertise.

Companies attach great importance to continuous training in these areas.

Additionally, they expect law firms to integrate their knowledge in these areas into their daily work while collaborating with companies in order to deliver the best possible result for the client.

The use of new technologies, such as legal tech tools, to increase efficiency is also very welcomed by companies.

In addition, it is especially important for internationally operating companies that the firm brings global expertise and recognizes economic connections between several countries.

In the context of selecting a law firm, many General Counsel emphasize that the diversity factor in terms of cultural diversity and gender as well as the issue of ethical standards also play a major role.

In general, other criteria such as creativity in the context of alternative legal solutions and flexibility in dealing with short-term problems are also important when selecting external legal advice.

Cost-efficient outsourcing of legal services 

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the pressure on corporate legal departments to offer external mandates at lower costs while maintaining high quality.

In addition to the selection criteria explained above, the core aspect of mandate allocation is the remuneration for legal services, as legal departments are increasingly struggling with budget cuts on the one hand and increased demand for legal expertise within the company on the other hand.

For this reason, companies are increasingly preferring alternative remuneration methods such as installments, fixed flat rates per project or per month for legal work. These billing models give companies greater planning security.

Often these offers are more favorable than billing via hourly fees.

The preliminary cost estimate varies depending on the volume of the assignment and is worked out in a dialogue between the company and the law firm.

In many companies, the purchasing department is involved in these rate negotiations, the scheduling of projects and invoicing.

The purchasing department also supports the general counsel in controlling the projects and monitoring the costs.

For law firms it is important that the task descriptions and the project volume are clearly defined by the company in order to provide a realistic cost estimate.

This enables external legal advisors to calculate more accurately even for complex mandates, which increases overall efficiency and benefits both sides.

Expectation management 

During the cooperation between the internal legal department and the external law firm, a common agenda, a constant exchange and a clearly communicated expectation management is important.

Even before the start of the project, the company must express its ideas about the handling process, reaction times and the urgency of its request and, above all, clearly state its expectations to the external consultants.

The respective contact persons and representatives are also determined in advance to ensure transparency with regard to the responsibilities and organizational structures on the firm as well as the company side.

During the collaboration process, constant communication between the two parties is important.

This can be ensured by means of fixed jour fixe appointments. Effective communication also includes continuous updates on workload and project progress. Companies also expect external lawyers to proactively provide their clients with additional information on relevant legal issues beyond the project.

With these or similar initiatives, external consultants can secure long-term cooperation. A regular evaluation of the cooperation leads to a more efficient work process, which provides added value for both the company and the external consultants.

In conclusion, it can be said that incentives for working as efficiently as possible are provided, especially in the case of performance-related remuneration or installment payments per project phase.

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Business

Rwanda, DPWorld Launch Global E-commerce Platform For Rwandan Products

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Rwanda Development Board, (RDB) and Dubai Ports World (DP World) have launched a new global e-commerce platform, www.dubuy.com, that will market Rwandan products to the global market place.

The launch comes after RDB and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in December, 2020 to launch the new global B2B and B2C e-commerce platform to make it easier for Rwandan businesses to engage in international trade.

Dubai Ports World is an Emirati multinational logistics company based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It specialises in cargo logistics, port terminal operations, maritime services and free trade zones.

Rwanda now becomes DP World’s hub for expanding e-commerce across the East Africa Community and beyond. Rwandan businesses will also benefit from broader DP World services and investment that will help to facilitate and develop trade.

This includes the promotion of Rwandan exports of coffee, tea, and horticulture on Dubuy.com, modernising of Rwanda’s supply chain logistics including in rural areas, and access to digital tools to help businesses save money and expand their reach to local, regional, and global markets.

“We have robust infrastructure to support logistics in Rwanda and we are committed to reducing the cost of logistics, enabling Rwanda to become a regional logistics hub,” Summit Bhardwaj, CEO of DP World Rwanda, said during the launch that was held virtually on Wednesday morning March 3, 2021 between Rwandan officials and DP World Executives.  

RDB Deputy CEO, Zephanie Niyonkuru and Rwanda’s Ambassador to the UAE, Emanuel Hategeka, were part of the launch.

Niyonkuru said that Dubuy.com is a great addition to Rwanda’s local and regional trade activities and as a country promoting the manufacturing of products for export. “We believe it will help us quicken the process of connecting buyers and sellers,” he said. “The real work has now started and we need to make sure that many companies sign up and access global markets. We also hope that through the platform, we’ll be able to reduce the overall cost of trade.”

Ambassador Hategeka who has been instrumental in securing this partnership said that, “We are honored that Rwanda is the first country of launch for http://dubuy.com in the region. E-commerce platforms like this are needed now more than ever before as we respond to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This launch follows also another development where Rwanda’s products are now listed on the most popular e-commerce platforms in Singapore such as Red Mart and Shopee Singapore as well as s major Singapore’s largest grocery retail shops.

In January, this year, the on-going Campaign to promote Rwandan Coffee and other products in Japan, Ambassador Ernest Rwamucyo met with Yoshiaki Kawashima, President, Mi Cafeto, and Special Advisor to JICA on Coffee Value Chain Development Project to explore how more coffee could be accessed in Japan.

Sales of Rwandan coffee in China via online platforms belonging to China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba increased by 400 percent in 2020, according to Alibaba.

Amb. James Kimonyo, Rwandan envoy to China (centre) with Xueli Cherie, a Chinese online influencer, and Sam Abikunda, Commercial Attaché at the embassy during a live streaming promotion event in China. / Photo: Courtesy.
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Business

Rwanda’s Weekly Agro Exports Performance

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Last week Rwanda shipped out various tonnes of horticultural products coffee and tea fetching an impressive amount of foreign revenue.

According to National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) mandated to develop and enhance Rwanda’s agricultural exports, Last week Rwanda exported 255,298Kg of horticultural products which earned U$441,679.

Details show the Main Countries of destination of Rwanda’s horticultural products were mainly Holland, United Kingdom, DRC, Germany, among others including USA, UAE, France, Uganda, Belgium, Tanzania and Denmark.

A total of 431,107Kg of Rwanda Coffee worth U$1,383,622 was exported compared to previous week, export quantities and revenues increased by 86.2% and 83.9% respectively. 52.2% of the consignment was fully washed. Destinations: China, UK, Belgium, Russia, Kenya, South Sudan & Nigeria.

Meanwhile, 449,000Kg of Rwanda Tea  were exported generating U$1,146,118. Compared to last week, the average price slightly reduced from U$2.78/Kg to U$2.5/Kg. Main country buyers were Pakistan, and UK among others.

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Business

Tanzania Unveils Aggressive Plan For Livestock

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Tanzania has announced that it is seeking to revamp its livestock subsector with the aim of making it more profitable.

Dr. Jonas Kizima the Acting Director-General of Tanzania Livestock Research Institute (Taliri) said on Tuesday that Preliminary studies have discovered that most industries in the livestock products category are performing shoddily due to poor production and supply of raw materials.

The Tanzanian government said it is embarking on implementing a special five-year programme (2021-2025) to push for improvement of the livestock industry.

“The programme seeks to enable stakeholders in the beef and dairy cattle chains in all regions of to improve their performance by adopting better technologies and practices so that they can stand a professional chance to meet actual raw material demand in the livestock industry,” Dr. Jonas Kizima said.

Tanzania is therefore arguing that it is going to introduce and help livestock keepers across the country to raise hybrid animals, provide best animal health services, animal compounded and feeds, put in place animal husbandry infrastructure, improve milk handling, grazing systems and maintain good diary animal genetics.

“Inbreeding is the biggest technical challenge livestock keepers are facing- it is detrimental to livestock,” Dr Kizima noted.

The new agenda is in compliance with President John Magufuli’s directive issued to revive and promote animal industries for the next five years in the coastal East African country.

According to Concerns by Magufuli at least 90% of animal skins and skins produced in Tanzania were of very poor quality due to poor slaughtering methods.

Magufuli says he is seeking to motivate investors from within and outside the country to invest in meat industries, but also in leather production and other animal products such as hoofs.

Under this new program, Tanzania wants to construct seven major abattoirs in different regions with the capacity to slaughter at least 6700 cows and 11000 goats per day.

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