Do more . . .

©2018 Peter Krakaur

Doing “more for less?” You have, of course, adopted new productivity paradigm — circa 2012.[1] Some law firm laterals adopted this as true innovation in 2013.[2] Others suggest the legal market embraced “more for less” by 2009.[3] The calls for a different pace likely started much, much earlier. If it is any comfort, the legal vertical is not venturing in this direction alone. See e.g., compliance, [4] professional development, [5] female-led startups, [6]financial instruments, the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group,[7] and multinational energy corporations[8]

\\Mac\Home\Downloads\8483857475_c7b0ddcdfa_m.jpg We are asked to do “more.” One implication is that whatever it is we are doing, it is suboptimal in the eyes of the company cox.[9] As the cadence for “more” increases, general counsel and their business partners, law firms, and legal service providers balance pressures to do it with “less” despite facing increased workloads, client demands, and risk to manage. Near-term action is a practical business imperative since we are advised that “more for less” pressures will continue for next decade of legal service.[10]

The typical reflex to these pressures is to focus on the “less,” translating “for less” to signify “with less,” thereby accepting that smaller numbers, lower budgets, and/or fewer things or people is how one should proceed.[11] With all respect to Nike, when faced with the “more for less” pressures du jour, it is unwise to just “do” it. The result may be suboptimal:

More with lessLess with lessLess with more

How, What, Why?[12]

One must ensure alignment[13] at the start to drive any action of strategic consequence. Focusing first on how one is going to do what misses the important, necessary question of why.[14] Simply doing “less”[15] is not a path to business success; it is a point solution.[16] Will one do more with less, more of the same, or more but less better? One does not need an uncomplicated graphic to know that the probable (and shortest) path with “less” is “less.”[17] The exercise seems like a no-win situation absent an innovative approach.[18]

Why, What, How?

Discerning the context — the why — is necessary to construct new strategies to conquer business challenges (opportunities?)[19] Start with strategy,[20] with why, [21] with purpose.[22]

The why behind the request for “more” may take many forms, including:

  • production
  • sales
  • revenue
  • clients
  • profits
  • scale & agility
  • transformation
  • diversity
  • engagement & transparency
  • digitization

Legal professionals must actively assess this context to build and sustain a fluid legal service delivery portfolio — the “what”— combining:

  • contracting velocity
  • IP portfolio growth/protection
  • entity rationalization
  • tax and financing advice
  • acquisitions and restructuring
  • data and privacy protection
  • aggressive litigation
  • mediated settlements
  • risk mitigation
  • ethics & compliance programs

With starting and end lines in sight, legal professionals can counsel business partners how a calculated legal service delivery model will drive the business forward.

Do More for Value

Synergy: The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.[23]

Lawyers counsel clients on approaches to legal issues that achieve specific business goals. Legal professionals facing “more for less” pressures similarly should focus on how to align the value delivered (the what) to the value a client needs (the why).[24] Shifting from “more for less” to “more for value” requires investments in activities that yield higher returns.[25] It demands productivity – doing at least more with the same.[26] It calls for purpose[27] and a more expansive view of how, steering forward in the context of business pressures of today and tomorrow. The path to deliver “more for value” is defined through a synergistic combination of doing more with design, talent, technology, and data.

Doing more with design

Technology and people do not deliver value absent thoughtful processes designed[28] and aligned with purpose for business.[29] Disciple and rigor guide what should be done, what should not be done, who owns what, and what should not be owned. With a business why perspective, legal professionals should consider consciously what tasks and activities they should execute and what is better performed with different legal staffing paradigms or by business partners and clients.[30]

Assessing the maturity of operations,[31] legal professionals should stratify legal work, the people who do that work, and the associated costs according to value.[32] Design for value[33] before purchasing technology to palliate the calls for less.[34] Design your data architecture to capture data that will help you build, manage, and assess your value.

Doing more with talent

In-house teams, their external counsel, and legal service providers are actively considering new legal service delivery paradigms.[35] Legal professionals, focusing on the practice of law, change talent approaches, hiring operations professionals to manage the business of aligning “more” legal service delivery with “less.”[36]

What talent is in place today? What skills do they possess and what will they need to succeed?[37] Although current resources may have the requisite skills to do the work of yesterday, do these resources have the right IQ and EQ skills to do “more” for tomorrow?[38] Adjust talent strategy to business strategy,[39] investing in the right talent[40] and culture[41] that aligns with designed processes. Hire purple people[42] that speak the requisite languages.[43]

Doing more with technology

Confronting “more for less” pressures, legal professionals petition for new, perhaps additional, “systems” or “tools” to drive efficiency. These approaches validate the law of the instrument,[44] implicitly deflecting scrutiny from people and process issues. Although contract, document, compliance, entity and legal spend management systems are arguably necessary systems for legal service delivery, it is debatable whether they are sufficient to deliver value.[45]

Legal professionals increasingly rely on tech-enabled solutions to drive change in the broader legal service delivery model.[46] Legal operations and technical professionals help to translate what is feasible with current technology offerings. Before proceeding with any technology solution, however, understand what legal service delivery processes and staffing models will deliver business value. Technology alone is insufficient.

Augmented intelligence developments challenge us to rethink the balance between minds and machines.[47] Despite what some technology providers may claim, until we reach the Singularity,[48] technology-driven value rests on foundations of intentionally architected, aligned process and talent strategies.

Doing more with data

The evidence is overwhelming that, whenever the option is available, relying on data and algorithms alone usually leads to better decisions and forecasts than relying on the judgment of even experienced and “expert” humans.[49]

Data speaks. A legal department turning 50,000 contracts per year translates roughly to 12,500 contracts per quarter or 4,160 contracts per month, give or take quarter-end variations. All things being equal, it might take a team of 50 people each to process 83 contracts per month, roughly 20 contracts per week.

Few contracts are created equally. Businesses are driven with a mix of legal agreements, including purchase and sale contracts, licenses, NDAs, employment agreements, and outsourcing agreements. They range from the simple to the complex. Legal professionals and businesses appropriately focus on data concerning legal and business obligations. Data concerning the processes to create, negotiate and maintain these agreements is equally compelling, particularly when facing “more for less” pressures.

An expansive view into all legal service delivery data is necessary to drive “more” value. Understand who is doing what and the strategic value they produce to assess whether the time and cost invested yields strategic business value.[50] Data captured today or tomorrow may suggest that the designed processes and talent strategies need to be revisited. Leverage design and data together.[51]Iterate. Make data sing.[52]


Today, tomorrow, or some quarter in the not-too-distant future, legal professionals will hear the clarion call of “more for less.” This temporal focus will be framed as the new, immediate normal. Do not wait for this call. Take action now to frame the discourse so the question of how “more” will be realized does not devolve into a simple cost management exercise. Engage instead on discussions on “more for value.” This will position legal professionals to (re)design aligned processes with the right talent, technology and data strategies that collectively will realize near- and long-term business goals. More or less.


  1. Doing More With Less: the New Productivity Paradigm,
  2. Why I left a big law firm, but not BigLaw,
  3. See Doing More for Less, Leveraging Important Work Through Law Department Business Managers, (“Law departments are only as good as the managers that are responsible for them, and a key part of effective management in a law department setting is to have a solid and strong business manager.”)
  4. Doing More with Less: Coordinating a Decentralized Compliance Function with Limited Central Resources,
  5. How to Pursue Your Professional Development by Doing More With Less,
  6. Study confirms female-led startups are doing more with less,
  7. Doing more with less: The case for Financial Instruments in the next multiannual EU budget,
  8. Doing ‘More For Less,’ ConocoPhillips Slashes 2017 Capex 10%,,
  9. Wikipedia, Glossary of Rowing Terms, See Here’s why rowing teams have one significantly smaller member sit nearly motionless in the back of the boat,
  10. Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future, Susskind, pp. 4-5,
  11. Susskind calls it a dilemma. A Response to the More for Less Dilemma, (adopt an “efficiency strategy — cut costs or a “collaboration strategy” — share the cost of legal services).
  12. Compare What? Why? How? (three big questions that every rider asks herself constantly and thatoften seem to be very difficult to answer); The Harder Side of Change: The What, Why and How of Change Management,; Demystifying Strategy: The What, Who, How, and Why,; The Why, What, and How of Management Innovation,;
  13. See Rule 2-304- Alignment, The Rules of Rowing, 2020 Edition.
  14. See Are You Solving the Right Problem?,
  15. E.g., reducing spend or costs, shifting to/from more fixed and less variable costs, lowering expenses and capital investments, scaling down hiring, reducing headcount (or all of the foregoing).
  16. See The 6 Most Common Innovation Mistakes Companies Make,
  17. See The long-term effect of doing more with less: Doing less,
  18. See Kobayashi Maru,
  19. See How To Turn A Problem Into An Opportunity,; How Top Executives Turn Problems Into Opportunities, And You Can, Too,
  20. More for less: Five steps to strategic cost reduction,
  21.; See The Golden Circle in How Great Leaders Inspire Action,
  22. The Value of Purpose,$File/ey-the-value-of-purpose.pdf.
  23. Definition of Synergy,, also The Urban Dictionary,“The collaboration of two or more people on a project or situation, which the outcome would be better than if the two people had worked independently of each other. Basically just a buzz word for team work.”)
  24. Delivering Business Value: The Most Important Aspect of Project Management,; The Five Business Vale Commandments, See Points of Law: Unbundling Corporate Legal Services to Unlock Value, See also ACC Value Challenge,; Adding Value: Tips & Tools to Prove Your Department’s Worth,; Legal Operations: Leading Practices in Implementing Strategy, Leading Change and Advancing Law Department Excellence,
  25. A Better Way to Cut Costs,
  26. See Great Companies Obsess Over Productivity, Not Efficiency,
  27. See The Value of Purpose,$File/ey-the-value-of-purpose.pdf; You Don’t Find Your Purpose — You Build It,;
  28. See Design Thinking for Lawyers,; See also Demystifying design thinking: becoming part of the movement, ;
  29. See Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Law Departments: Staffing,
  30. More than a feeling: Ten design practices to deliver business value,
  31. ACC Legal Operations Maturity Model Toolkit,
  32. See Law a la Carte: The Case for Unbundling Legal Services, See ACC Value-based Fee Primer,
  33. See Design-to-Value versus Design-to-Cost versus Minimum Viable Product,
  34. See How to Win with Automation (Hint: It’s Not Chasing Efficiency),
  35. See Welcome to Legal 2.0,; ULX Partners: UnitedLex develops solution to law firm innovation risk,; What the EY/Riverview Deal Means – The Bigger Picture,; New Law Firm/LPO Partnership Aims To Cut Corporate Legal Spend By Half,
  36. Law firms hiring non-lawyers to help streamline operations,; Steering Law Firm Strategy, See Baker McKenzie appoints David Cambria as Global Director of Legal Operations,
  37. CLOC Legal Operations Career Skills Toolkit: Lawyers, Your Clients Value Legal-Service Delivery Skills,
  38. See I Am an AI Luddite (and Why You Should Be One Too) @ footnotes 147-192 and accompanying text,
  39. Are You Making Sure to Change Your Talent Along With Your Strategy, See The Search for Innovative Talent: Decoding the Secret of an Adaptable Workforce,
  40. Talent Matters Even More than People Think,; Attracting and retaining the right talent, See Talent Matters Even More than People Think,
  41. The War For Talent Is Over. This New War Will Replace It,
  42. See I Am an AI Luddite (and Why You Should Be One Too) and discussion @ footnote 180,
  43. See The 5 Languages of Legal Operations,
  44. Wikipedia, Law of the instrument,
  45. See Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Necessary and Sufficient Conditions,
  46. Automated and Agile: The New Paradigm for Legal Service,
  47. Machine, Platform, Crowd; Andrew McAfee & Erick Brynjolfsson,, p17, See I Am an AI Luddite (and Why You Should Be One Too),
  48. The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology,
  49. Machine, Platform, Crowd; Andrew McAfee & Erick Brynjolfsson, p. 59,
  50. The Paradox of Workplace Productivity,
  51. What Happens When Data Scientists and Designers Work Together, .
  52. See The best stats you’ve ever seen, Rosling, H.,