A Spotlight On Successful Collaborations To Drive Value: ACC Value Champions

Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 13:05

The Editor interviews ACC’s Amar D. Sarwal, Vice President and Chief Legal Strategist about the “ACC Value Champions,” a new recognition program for value-based relationships.

The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is looking forward to announcing its ACC Value Champions in Spring 2012 to ACC members and the public. As nominations are being submitted from small law departments as well as large, The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel has decided to ask the question: What can corporate counsel do to be identified as ACC Value Champions?

Editor: What are ACC Value Champions?

Sarwal: Essentially, ACC Value Champions are law department and law firm leaders who have made great strides in improving the value of legal spending. They will be recognized as part of ACC’s initiative to spotlight successful value-driven solutions within corporate legal departments and between corporate counsel and their outside counsel firms. The ACC Value Champions recognition program, launched in November 2011, is yet another high point of the ACC Value Challenge – the 2008 initiative to reconnect value with the cost of legal services.

The beauty of this program is that after three years of challenging inside and outside counsel to reconnect value of legal services, we now have real-life examples and success stories to showcase. There are numerous examples of successful client/firm relationships and with the ACC Value Champions initiative, we have the opportunity to celebrate and widely promote these accomplishments. 

Editor: What is the significance of being a Value Champion?

Sarwal: ACC recognizes that there are many factors and resources that go into driving value. While personal satisfaction and company accolades are excellent ways of acknowledging such successes, much more can be done to advertise these tactics. The ACC Value Champions will teach other legal departments and firms both innovative and collaborative tactics to achieve best practices for value initiatives. Our goal is to identify, celebrate and publicize successful law department value initiatives and law firm/client collaborations.

Editor: How does the recognition program for Value Champions work?

Sarwal: The process is comprised of three parts – one for the participants, one for the reviewers and one for the organization. These three simple steps include:

  1. Legal departments and law firm leaders submit a two-page nomination form that shares results and the brief success story to ACC by Thursday, March 15, 2012;
  2. A panel comprised of select ACC staff and representatives of the ACC Value Challenge Steering Committee will review the nominations; and
  3. In the spring of 2012, ACC will announce the ACC Value Champions to the business, legal and non-profit communities.

We wanted to make sure that we began this program with the story top of mind. Stories are the key; they are the most important element. Also, we wanted to design a program that is simple and flexible to encourage wide participation.

Editor: Where does the concept of having ACC Value Champions stem from?

Sarwal: The idea of ACC Value Champions originates from numerous success stories that ACC and others within the in-house community have shared in their continuing effort to ensure that client expectations – not outside legal spend – drive the legal services equation. About six months ago, leaders of the ACC Value Challenge took note of these stories, as well as the significant progress being made in reducing spending, improving predictability, and achieving better legal outcomes. The leadership began to brainstorm on ways to promote these remarkable strategies and outcomes to the in-house counsel community and their client firms.

The program is a natural progression for the ACC Value Challenge. Part of my responsibilities as the new vice president and chief legal strategist included not just the management of ACC’s advocacy agenda and the Value Challenge, but also increasing our engagement efforts with the chief legal officer community. This is our way of honoring teams for their commitment to more effectively manage legal spending.

Editor: So, how can one become a Value Champion?

Sarwal: ACC recognizes that there are many factors relative to the organization that contribute to driving value. Therefore:

  • Law department leaders can be nominated (or self-nominate) for in-house team projects that did not involve a law firm or firms; or
  • Law department and law firm leaders can co-nominate firm/client partnerships.

And, it’s worth emphasizing that whether the value outcomes were the result of very basic, replicable tactics applied to discrete projects – or if the results stemmed from multidimensional, multi-year initiatives – ACC looks forward to celebrating those successes.

Additionally, neither membership nor sponsorship of ACC is required, so collaborating legal departments and firms are strongly encouraged to check out www.acc.com/valuechampions to learn more, obtain a nomination form and share the word about the program.

Please email accvaluechampions@acc.com with questions about the nomination form or the submission process.