The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) announced today that The Heico Companies LLC and Shook, Hardy & Bacon together were named a 2015 “ACC Value Champion” for developing a collaborative and systematic business model to improve legal outcomes, reduce costs, decrease case variation and improve efficiency of legal services by 10 percent.
With this year’s ACC Value Champion honor, Shook becomes the first and only law firm to receive the Value Champion designation three times. Shook was recognized in 2012 with Tyco International and in 2013 with energy company and convenience store defendants in multidistrict “hot fuel” litigation.
A component of the ACC Value Challenge, which promotes reconnecting the cost and value of legal services, the ACC Value Champions initiative recognized The Heico Companies LLC and its law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon as one of 12 corporate legal departments and law department/law firm or legal service provider collaborations that delivered substantial value to their client organizations by cutting spending, improving predictability and achieving better legal outcomes.
"We commend The Heico Companies and Shook, Hardy & Bacon for being champions of change in the legal industry," said Veta T. Richardson, president and CEO of ACC. "This year, we were especially impressed by the scope of the value initiatives. The 2015 ACC Value Champions employed several value tactics simultaneously — pursuing multifaceted programs that encompass outside counsel relationships, internal process improvement and innovations through technology — accomplishing extraordinary results.”
In 2013, demonstrating that small legal departments are just as capable of employing multifaceted value initiatives as larger ones, Heico developed a legal services efficiency model to create more predictable results at lower costs and streamline the hundreds of law firms billing the company at that time. Using operational definitions for “value-added” and “non-value-added” work to review each firm’s correction, inefficiency, motion, overproduction and waiting, the company identified Shook as its strongest law firm, with an efficiency rate of 79 percent.
“A key takeaway for me has been that the blended rate has been a focus as firms push work down,” said Don Walther, executive vice president and general counsel at Heico. “Our analysis showed that that’s not always the best approach. The real value is in leveraging expertise and experience appropriately.”
The teams then partnered in 2014 to further improve the efficiency rate, employing tactics such as attorney secondments to increase Shook’s knowledge of Heico’s businesses and priorities. The law firm focused efforts on value-added services, resulting in an increase in efficiency to 88 percent over the second half of 2014. Since January 2015, Shook improved its efficiency even more, to 92.8 percent.
“This was our first foray into attempting to measure efficiency,” says Shook Partner Paul Williams. “It was a creative and analytical measuring stick, and presented us with a fantastic opportunity to partner. We have learned much from their process improvements.”
In less than one year, Shook resolved six Heico cases, including four wrongful death cases, with zero dollars paid in settlement, much shorter cycle times and lower costs. In addition, the time to resolve cases dropped from 600 days to approximately 100 days, and savings from minimizing non-value-added work are projected to be at least 10 percent.
“While our representation of Heico began only four years ago, the level of collaboration and trust between organizations has been phenomenal,” Williams adds. “This is the perfect example of what can happen when two groups truly partner together in all aspects of their relationship.”
“As a law firm committed to providing our clients superlative value and service, we commend the ACC for encouraging both in-house attorneys and outside counsel to be diligent about developing solutions that enhance value for companies,” Shook Chair John Murphy said. “We are proud to partner with our clients to create the best possible outcomes, and we also congratulate all honorees for their successful leadership in transforming the way in-house law departments and law firms collaborate in pursuing value. We appreciate the opportunity to serve The Heico Companies and all of our clients.”
The Kansas City Business Journal covered Shook's honor as well.