DuPont has worked with dozens of law firms on dozens of matters. But at the start, there was no cohesive strategy for working together—no coherent set of criteria that tied the law firms’ goals to DuPont’s goals. There was no benchmark for success. And there was not nearly enough diversity. The legal department was a cost center and it was far more confusing and inefficient than it had to be.

To learn more, join us on Wednesday, April 27 at 1:00 p.m. EST for the ACC webcast, Applying the DuPont Model in 2016 and Beyond: Observations From Tom Sager. Register for the webcast here.

Jennifer Mailander, assoicate general counsel at Corporation Service Company
Jennifer Mailander, assoicate general counsel at Corporation Service Company

The DuPont Legal Model changed much of that—and not just for DuPont, but for the numerous businesses and companies that adopted it. The model—now an updated 85-page book in its fifth edition—has saved DuPont more than $175 million in legal costs since its inception. What began as a novel concept is now a mantra within corporate legal departments, especially at a time when cost is one of the biggest concerns for in-house counsel.

The model has four parts: strategic partnerships in which everyone is invested in each other’s financial success; using technology to enhance collaboration, improve efficiency, eliminate duplication, and measure results; alternative fee arrangements; and a demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion. Through the model, the company spells out the meaning of concepts like strategic partnership and collaboration.

The model was born—as so many corporate endeavors are—when the DuPont legal department was asked to do more with less. They had to get creative, so they began building a strategy called “convergence.” The legal team took a hard look at their outside law firms to figure out which firms were willing to work together cooperatively and which firms mirrored DuPont’s core values.

Tom Sager is a partner at Ballard Spahr LLP and former general counsel at DuPont
Tom Sager is a partner at Ballard Spahr LLP and former general counsel at DuPont

The firms matching those criteria got to continue working on DuPont cases, which included leading-edge legal issues. Because of the new model, these firms were paid quickly, had access to better technology, and had more interaction with the in-house legal team and legal supply chain, leading to more work.

For DuPont, the benefits were best realized in their bottom line. In litigation, the company reduced payouts far below historical averages and reduced its case docket by nearly 70 percent. Because of DuPont’s belief that everyone should have “skin in the game,” some of that cost savings were given back to its law firm partners. Bonuses of up to $10 million were paid on big cases, particularly in circumstances where the insurance companies covered much of the cost of settlement.

The company is proud of the efficiencies created using this model and the legal department’s movement away from the perception that it is strictly a cost center. The legal team is also enormously gratified that law firms are now talking about the importance of inclusion as a result. But there is much work that remains to be done. There are so many staffing and pricing efficiency models that can be used to create better value for the client and law firms. Ballard Spahr, for example, has developed models for pricing and project management that could not have been conceived of 20 years ago.

Guest bloggers: Jennifer Mailander is associate general counsel at Corporation Service Company® (CSC®), and is the former chair of ACC’s Litigation Committee. She can be reached at jennifer.mailander@cscglobal.com. Tom Sager is a partner at Ballard Spahr LLP and former general counsel at DuPont. He can be reached at sagert@ballardspahr.com.

To learn more, join us on Wednesday, April 27 at 1:00 p.m. EST for the ACC webcast, Applying the DuPont Model in 2016 and Beyond: Observations From Tom Sager. Register for the webcast here.

The DuPont Legal Model: A Playbook for Success