2 C-Store Companies Honored for Legal Excellence

By 
Greg Lindenberg, Editor, CSP

7-eleven and andeavor

WASHINGTON -- The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) has recognized convenience-store companies 7-Eleven Inc. and Andeavor as 2018 Value Champions.

In-house lawyers are leveraging custom technology and automated processes to run leanly in high-growth environments, transforming the law department from a cost center to a strategic business partner and optimizing organizational capacity by altering legal services delivery models, according to the ACC, a global legal association representing more than 43,000 members in 85 countries.

Including 7-Eleven and Andeavor, ACC recognized 12 law-department and law-firm collaborations, chosen by a panel of in-house lawyer judges (click here for the full list). Their strategic approaches increased client satisfaction, enhanced the value of legal service spending, reduced turnaround times and costs, and improved results, the Washington, D.C.-based group said.

“To be considered best in class, a law department must move at the speed of the business client, optimizing every process, controlling every cost, taking advantage of every available piece of data,” said Catherine J. Moynihan, associate vice president of legal management services for ACC. “These champions use leading management practices—writing applications, leveraging AI and applying sophisticated sourcing and staffing models—to help the businesses they serve succeed.”

The 2018 ACC Value Champions included …

7-Eleven and Seyfarth Shaw

seyfarth shaw

With the help of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, 7-Eleven streamlined its law department to better support its growing retail portfolio. "While we didn't historically view ourselves as a real estate company or property management company, that was a huge aspect of the work," said 7-Eleven Senior Counsel Kristen Cook.

Cook partnered with Chicago-based Seyfarth Shaw to implement value-based sourcing and staffing by realigning workflow to create a hybrid insourced/outsourced model that moves low-cost work such as title and survey review to Seyfarth Shaw’s real estate hub in Atlanta. It used proprietary technology to create a dedicated 7-Eleven website that streamlines communications among the legal department and more than 100 real-estate professionals. It features daily deal tracking, real-time budget tracking and other features.

Seyfarth Shaw also provides annual training sessions for the regional real estate field teams on topics such as leasing, acquisitions and technology.

In eight months, Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven reduced total outside counsel spend by 19% in real-estate legal spend. Outside counsel fees for new-store development decreased by 13% year over year. New-store deal fall-through rates declined from 25% to near 1%.

7-Eleven then hired a new real-estate transactional attorney and dispute attorney, and transferred four contract specialists from another department to work as paralegals. As a result, outside counsel spend for the real estate transactional part of the work decreased by 68% year over year; 80% of all real estate disputes are now resolved in-house.

Click here for more details on 7-Eleven and Seyfarth Shaw.

Andeavor and Counsel Management Group

tesoro

When Kim Rucker arrived as general counsel for Tesoro Corp. in early 2015, the legal department was organized like a law firm with legal specialties, such as human resources; labor and employment; corporate governance, securities and finance; and real estate and marketing. She wanted to transform the legal organization into a unified team. She wanted to run the organization like a business, not a cost center; treat every corporate dollar as its own; and demonstrate value as a strategic business partner.

When San Antonio-based Tesoro Corp. became Andeavor, the company restructured its legal department, creating “centers of excellence,” including a new legal operations group, resulting in a 28% reduction in legal spending.

"The new structure was designed to operate the legal team like a business by increasing accountability, effectively managing legal function spend, improving processes, team building, training and development of personnel, tracking [key performance indicators] and benchmarking against other legal functions—all to drive significant value add and trusted advisorship in the support of the strategic direction of the company," Rucker said.

For outside counsel, Andeavor partnered with Counsel Management Group (CMG) to launch and implement a request for proposal (RFP) process. More than 70 law firms submitted proposals. CMG provided data analytics to help measure law firm value based on responsiveness, rates, discounts, complimentary service offerings such as trainings and briefings, and more. By structuring the analysis this way, the team was able to see beyond the hourly rate and identify those firms that could complete the work at an effective cost.

"We learned that efficiency is just as important as price and started to see that there were multiple ways to slice the apple," Associate General Counsel Cliff Barr, head of the new legal operations group, said. "We were amazed at the efficiency and savings that could be realized."

Click here for more details on Andeavor and CMG.