It’s a common challenge in-house lawyers find themselves in these days — too much work to do but a desire to do things differently instead of just sending more work out or hiring additional head count.
However, Charles McCarragher, vice president, legal, and his team in global contracts at TD Bank decided before making a change in process to take a hard look at what the team was doing and how it could be done more strategically to better serve the internal client and at lower cost.
At the same time, McCarragher wanted to keep a sharp focus on risk management and make sure the lawyers working inside TD had the most interesting work to do. The TD global contracts legal department he oversees manages more than 1,000 medium-risk-rated contracts in the area of procurement annually. TD contract managers are negotiators who are not members of the TD legal department but are primarily accountable for the negotiation and drafting of medium-rated contracts and for working with TD internal stakeholders and external suppliers. TD lawyers support those contract managers as legal subject matter experts and serve as escalation points.
McCarragher found that about 75 per cent of a lawyer’s time was spent on the highest-risk strategic matters. This category of work represented approximately 20 per cent of the total workload, therefore creating a situation where a lawyer had only 25 per cent of their time to manage approximately 80 per cent of their workload.
“Resource constraints negatively impacted quality of review, timeliness of support by lawyers [and] time to completion and the result was decreased servicing of high-risk work and a stressful work environment for lawyers,” TD stated in its Innovatio nomination.
“The easiest way to describe it is too much work, not enough time,” says McCarragher. “We wanted to prioritize our lawyers’ time on work that was highest priority relative to the bank but was also the most rewarding and fulfilling for the lawyers to perform.”
The challenge was to find a way to provide a “release valve” for the internal lawyers but at the same time make sure a certain quality and standard was met according to TD’s risk appetite.
McCarragher and his team worked on an alternate resourcing model to take a certain type of work and outsource it to their external firm, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, but put measures in place to ensure the work was done in a consistent way and ensure a clean integration with other stakeholders in the contracting process at the bank.
The contract management solution combines service delivery by TD contract management and legal resources and resources from McCarthy Tétrault and Exigent Group Ltd. Together, McCarthy’s national innovation leader Matt Peters and Rico Burnett, global head of legal services & solutions with Exigent, lead a team that supports the TD CMS.
McCarragher admits the department had “relatively ambitious targets” but they have seen benefits across a number of areas. “We’re looking at roughly a 30-per-cent cost savings relative to what it would otherwise cost to retain this work in-house on a volume basis [for a full-time equivalent position]. Our own service delivery time has also improved. So where in the past we would have had on average a 10-to-four-day turnaround time, that has been reduced
to a one-to-two-day turnaround time,” he says.