Last week — when I read that its General Counsel Jeffrey Carr was calling the shots for the law function in targeting 50% savings in Univar’s legal spend — I took notice.
I believe that the single most important success factor in the ElevateNext / Elevate Services / Univar collaboration is that the client’s law function is being led by a business guy — not someone whose perspective is confined to practicing law.
I write Part III of this series from a strong personal viewpoint. My comments here are based on observations over the years about how companies are well served — or badly served — by their lawyers.
Besides reading what’s in the media and press releases, I have no special knowledge about this particular venture (though I have met and spoken with some of the participants in the past — long before this announcement was made).
Following my own experiences as a practicing lawyer and later as an executive (see more here), I’ve concluded that attorneys are good at deploying technical legal expertise, but that they are unskilled in managing people, poor at cost control, and are either uninterested or undisciplined about proactive liability prevention.
This was not always my view. As a practicing lawyer I never questioned the way that lawyers in law firms and in-house conduct companies’ legal affairs.
Then I accepted a corporate client’s invitation to run one of its divisions.