Rees Morrison é o presidente da Rees Morrison Associates (RMA), empresa de pesquisas e informações aplicadas com sede em Princeton, NJ. Nos últimos 24 anos, Rees atuou como consultor para departamentos jurídicos nas áreas de revisões operacionais, controle de custos, avaliação de estrutura e organização, satisfação do cliente, tecnologia, benchmarking e outras questões. Morrison já prestou assistência para mais de 300 departamentos jurídicos ao redor do mundo.

Por conta disso, Rees concedeu–nos uma entrevista exclusiva, onde fala sobre a importância das métricas de benchmarking, o atual cenário da advocacia americana e os principais desafios enfrentados pelo mercado jurídico nos Estados Unidos. Confira!

Entrevistador – What does a benchmarking a so important tool for law departments management and law firms?

Rees Morrison – Benchmark metrics allow a general counsel to compare his or her department to similar other departments. For example, they can tell you how many lawyers per billion of reals other companies have and you can look at your own figure more meaningfully. Such comparisons help defend the department against budget or staff reductions, help bolster arguments to add budget or headcount, and help managers recognize where they might make improvements. Metrics are not as subjective as many assessments of performance.

Entrevistador – How a benchmarking can help a law department management or law firms to increase or develop itself? Is it an important tool for brand as well?

Rees Morrison – A benchmark metric, such as the ratio of internal legal expense to external legal expense (typically 40/60), might indicate that you are quite different. If your external spend is much higher than that median figure, it should set you to thinking about why. Thinking inspired by metrics can be very fruitful, simply for pointing you in the direction of a possible opportunity to manage better.

Benchmark metrics are familiar to Chief Financial Officers and CEOs. They think in terms of numbers and percentages. Therefore, a general counsel who can comfortably explain that the law department is 20% below the median industry metric for total legal spending as a percentage of revenue can market the effectiveness of the department.

Entrevistador – How is the scenery for legal corporate departments and law firms in United States of America – USA?

Rees Morrison – In the United States of America, there is much talk among law departments about cost control. Much talk, but not necessarily much progress. When about two-thirds of a company’s legal spend goes to external law firms that get everyone’s attention because they do not want to terminate their own staff – the only effective way to make much of a difference on the internal legal budget. All the talk about sending legal-related work offshore, such as to India or the Philippines, has died down quite a bit lately. The dominant discussion has been about the cost of electronic discovery of documents. Even that worry has receded a bit lately as vendors have become more skilled, software has improved, and judges have come to understand the costs and effort more.

Entrevistador – How did the crisis strike the legal departments in your country?

Rees Morrison – Since late 2008 there has been more scrutiny of the costs of the legal department. When everyone has to tighten the belt, executive management expects the legal team to do its part. The first step in doing so has been to collect data and present it. Thus, e-billing solutions have become more common as the tool to do that. Once the legal spending data is more transparent, general counsels have to explain more precisely what they are trying to do to contain it.

Entrevistador – What is the big challenge for legal departments and law firms in USA?

Rees Morrison – Many people would answer that the billable hour is the biggest challenge, but I am more of the view that charging by the hour works quite well – better than alternatives – for many kinds of legal services. Nor technology is the biggest challenge. The fact is, legal software doesn’t change and evolve all that rapidly. What is available is far from completely used by legal departments. The biggest challenge is the perception that costs have run out of control. I don’t think that is true, certainly not from what benchmark metrics over time tell us. But that is the hardest “public relations” issue for general counsel in terms of management issues.

Entrevistador – Do you think social medias like Facebook, Twitter and/ or LinkedIn can contribute for efficient practices and management administration at legal departments or law firms? Why?

Rees Morrison – The potential is there for social networks to help in-house lawyers practice law better and manage better. We have not reached anywhere near the stage of being able to call that asset a material benefit, however. Too much material floats around on blogs and professional networks and websites and the searching tools are inadequate.

Entrevistador – In your opinion, what is the secret for a succeed administration in a law department of an international company?

Rees Morrison – It’s no secret: people. If you don’t have capable lawyers and capable staff who support the lawyers, the best systems, the best software, the best structure in the world won’t help. Try to hire smart people who fit in with the culture of your company and department, give them good work to do that lets them grow professionally as much as they want to, protect them from politics and distractions, and the rest will take care of itself. There is not much career path in legal departments, not in the traditional sense of being promoted and managing more people. But there can be opportunities to do more interesting work, with more variety, and keep fresh professionally.

Entrevistador – What should brazilian law firms do to be retained by non-brazilian companies?

Rees Morrison – I suspect the answers are two: (1) speak the language fluently of the client and (2) spend some time in that country to understand its expectations of legal practice.