Education | Insights | Best Practices

The Educational Institute for Buying Legal Services & Legal Technology

The Buying Legal® Council, the international trade organization for Legal Procurement, announced the 2021 Legal Procurement Awards winners. The goal was to identify and acknowledge the best industry initiatives in areas of Legal Procurement. 

“The Legal Procurement Awards showcase advances in legal procurement and honor those who are at the forefront of new developments. The Awards provide a measure of recognition for achievement on the most relevant dimensions of skill and creativity,” says Dr. Silvia Hodges Silverstein, CEO of the Buying Legal® Council.


    Equitable / Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions

Equitable: Mike Lordi, Kurt Meyers, Hector Geribon

WK: Robert Pasinksi, Ronda Sabatini, Jeff Anthony

Equitable’s Law Department adopted a policy requiring in-house counsel to interview and equally consider an attorney or law firm with leading counsel who is a person of color, a woman, LGBTQ, and/or has a disability, for new matters in which outside counsel is retained. A “leading counsel” receives substantial economic or reputational credit for the matter at the firm. The policy reflects Equitable’s commitment to measurably improving diversity in a manner intended to benefit individual lawyers of diverse backgrounds.

The policy was developed internally by three lawyers with no budgetary impact. The diversity module’s implementation was completed with zero cost as part of an upgrade to the ELM Solutions Passport solution. The new Outside Counsel Procurement policy was completed with two Operations professionals, one IT partner and two Wolters Kluwer project team members, and was finished on time and with no budget impact.

Why they impressed us:

Equitable gained powerful results from a new process that drove ‘true’ accountability for in-house counsel to include, consider, and hire diverse attorneys and lead diverse attorneys at firms they hired. The improvements made already show how positive diversity change can be made with rigor in process, accountability, and measurements around the evaluation, selection, and engagement process of attorneys and firms. This is cultural change at its best for a corporation and a great model for other corporations to follow and they have the data to show that the process works. The results speak for themselves.

The judges appreciate that Equitable’s program includes consideration of the firm's recognition or origination credits. This encourages that the team not simply add diverse talent - but consider and choose diverse talent to lead the team and the project.

This project also goes beyond just numbers (diverse representation on the team) to true opportunities to advance the careers of diverse talent by encouraging the leadership assignments to them.



Kaiser Permanente / Digitory Legal

Kaiser Permanente: Tamara Morgan

Digitory Legal: Catherine Krow

Kaiser Permanente’s corporate legal department has a long-term commitment to EID and a vision to further advance EID through data optimization. Kaiser Permanente took action to fix implicit bias at the source, that is, staffing and work allocation with high-quality data.

Digitory worked alongside Kaiser Permanente to improve overall data hygiene across its legal panel enabling the company to develop a deeper understanding of the quality of work that diverse lawyers are doing by separating the strategic, success-building work from administrative tasks. Digitory’s actionable diversity data analytics enables clients to identify where there are gaps in representation.

This data-driven EID approach is woven into the legal department's fabric from outside counsel guidelines to engagement management processes. Kaiser Permanente set clear guidance in the guidelines to ensure that law firms provide quality time narratives, updated timekeeper diversity information, and required outside counsel to provide detailed staffing plans at the outset of the engagement to support thoughtful work allocation and the equitable distribution of career-advancing roles to diverse attorneys.

Why they impressed us:

We believe that this approach to EID transform the legal industry: Measurements that show the bias at the core and then help firms and companies hiring firms to correct the behaviors causing the bias in work assignments. This could be pivotal for the legal industry in bringing equity to attorney and other ranks at law firms and use tangible data to better understand and increase equitable allocation of resume-building work and leadership roles for diverse attorneys. This could make cultural change in how a company manages and expects its firms to manage resources assigned, as well, help firms proactively correct these issues within their own assignment processes.


Swiss Re

Dr. Orazio Difruscolo

Swiss Re’s Legal & Compliance with Global Sourcing piloted the Vendor Development Program (VDP) to strengthen DEI principles in its supply chain. This enabled the organization to increase partnerships with companies that promote diversity in a workplace. Law firms reacted positively to Swiss Re’s scrutiny and development expectations and worked collaboratively with the company. The project’s goal was to move the needle also with small and medium law firms serving a variety of different industries.

Swiss Re had no expenditures beyond the value of the time of Swiss Re’s internal participants involved in the development, implementation and continuous improvement of the project. From Legal & Compliance, five colleagues were external engagement work stream members, in addition to the executive sponsor. Three additional members from Global Sourcing supported the Vendor Development Program. The total time invested is difficult to estimate but is rather significant (at all levels) given the prioritization of this topic.

Why they impressed us:

This is a great effort and comprehensive program for DEI within legal supplier management. It is impactful for the company and the firms working with them. The structure and process built in partnership between Legal / Compliance and Procurement is commendable.


      Velan Valve Corp., Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani (GRSM) and Catalyst Consulting


Velan Valve: Sabine Bruckert

GRSM: Mark Tuvim

Catalyst Consulting: Richard Stock

Velan Valve Corp. sought a bolder, more strategic approach to managing its US litigation portfolio with significant changes to resource allocation, pricing practices, and annual terms of engagement.This involved replacing 21 firms in 25 states with a single National Defense Counsel (NDC) for five litigation categories.

The project included new staffing distributions and a series of assumptions and analysis incorporated into the statement of work for a comprehensive Strategic Partnering Agreement. The work is sufficient to support a hybrid fixed fee/collar arrangement that balances risk/reward for both the company and the firm. Velan Valve Corp.’s legal fees are more predictable fees in the face of industry trends for litigation volumes and costs. With the commitment and experience of Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani (GRSM) and of Catalyst Consulting’s project leadership, Velan is able to achieve significant improvements and savings. The new partnering agreement incorporates streamlined litigation management protocols and the integration of NDC functions with National Coordination Counsel functions.

Why they impressed us:

Within a fairly short time, not only was the team able to analyze the data and come to a structured way of organizing the types of matters, they also replaced the 31-year business model by consolidating to one National Defense Counsel that will also serve as National Coordinating Counsel. This was no small feat from the change management perspective. The new fee structure also replaced cumbersome billing and instead moved the focus to a more strategic partnership.

Velan’s approach to analyzing matters for the new contract is impressive. The new model gives Velan better predictability of costs and ongoing strategic advice.



Equitable / Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions 

Equitable: Mike Lordi, Ed Rodriguez, Dana Harris, Sandy Ayers

WK: Jeffrey Anthony

Equitable initiated a Matter Management and Outside Counsel re-engineering project to implement a new technology solution for matter and vendor management and overhaul its processes. The goal was to utilize technology in an efficient and cost-saving way, and align it with its strategic vision of a modern Law Department.

Why they impressed us:

With the help of WK, Equitable’s team did not just make a system upgrade. They also made significant process and procedure improvements to meet multiple goals in efficiency, internal cost reduction, and enhancing outside counsel program. This led to significantly reduced law department spend, increased efficiency, and improved outside counsel diversity results.


BT Group Inc. / Onit 

BT: David Griffin

Onit: Mark Elfman

BT Group plc is a British multinational telecommunications holding company headquartered in London, United Kingdom, with operations in 180 countries worldwide. BT’s Legal and Co Sec function recognized the part technology plays in optimizing delivery of legal services to its internal stakeholders and the cost efficiencies this can drive. Prior to BT's technology transformation, their legal department worked across several systems and programs, with many of them requiring manual work or a duplication of effort. Whilst they were already on a technology transformation journey, COVID-19 gave them the opportunity to take quick action to enhance technologies and processes.

Why they impressed us:

In less than a year, BT Legal Technology was able to implement a platform that replaced manual and disconnected process and management tools and helped the department see workload and matter management across the teams from inception to closure. This project significantly reduced the complexity of the technology stack and the majority of matters in the department are now under complete management. BT’s legal department was able to bring together business, outsourcing and lawyers on a single platform to ensure accurate data capture and a connected workflow to manage the department’s caseload.


         Sonnedix and Brightflag


Sonnedix: Heather Torres

Brightflag: Rosalie Stackpole

As part of its most recent law firm panel renewal exercise, solar power producer Sonnedix aimed to begin setting fixed-fee pricing models on the majority of its legal matters. Sonnedix had spent the prior two years building a detailed, data-based view of outside counsel pricing and performance. From Q3 2020 - Q2 2021, 93% of the approximately 300 matters Sonnedix instructed to outside counsel featured an alternative fee arrangement.

Quantitative results:

>15% discount factored into all preliminary pricing discussions

93% of matters began with a defined budget

80% came in/at/or under budget

93% of matters featured alternative fee arrangement

>10% reduction in outside legal spend for growth and operations support (in proportion to company expansion on megawatt basis)

Qualitative results:

Business stakeholders recognized demonstrably strong “value for money” from corporate legal services.

Law firms enjoyed stronger client relationships as a result of transparent feedback, closer collaboration, and simplified administration.

Excellent financial management ultimately helped legal department reserve more time/focus on strategic considerations and core services.

Why they impressed us:

Using Brightflag’s technology, Sonnedix shifted to fixed fees and nearly eliminated time and materials (T&M).

To shift from mainly T&M/capped T&M to 93% fixed fees and doing this all while onboarding a new tech platform is a massive lift for any legal department. This is a complete change in philosophy. Sonnedix was able to complete this in a short time frame.

The Buying Legal® Council welcomed proposal submissions from buyers of legal services in all industries across the globe. Submissions included a detailed description of the project, from the project goal, strategy and implementation to the results of the project as well as budget and return on investment.

All judges were senior legal procurement professionals.

Past Legal Procurement award winners include:

GlaxoSmithKline, BT, Walmart/Alan Bryan, General Mills, Banyan RFP, Turkcell, Netapp, Mitratech, Keesal, Young & Logan, Proxima, UnitedLex, DXC Technologies, Jaguar Land Rover North America & Onit, WoltersKluwer, Pearson, Harman/Vandana Dhamija, Archer Daniels Midland, Vodafone, Boehringer Ingelheim.