In-house legal departments are often seen as cost centers, but the past few years has seen an interest in converting legal departments to profit centers. This was especially the case during the Great Recession, but is smart business in all financial climates.
Here are some areas, and things to consider, in trying to make your company's legal department profitable.
1. Evaluate the Business
The first thing you should do is look at your company's business, and what makes it unique. It may be the particular industry, but there will probably be certain practices that prevail. You'll also need to really look at the types of products and/or services your company provides and become familiar with the relevant business aspects.
2. IP Protection
Maybe your company spends a lot of money on research, development and filing of patents -- but then what? Does your company allow them to languish and let others use the patents without repercussion? Or perhaps, your company is known for the great design of its products, but lets knock-off sites exist, and sell counterfeit products.
You company's copyrights and patents are only as strong as the protection you give them. By protecting your company's IP, you are removing potential lost sales, and maybe, increasing your company's sales.
Those same patents that your company developed may have uses in other industries that could result in huge profits for your company. Or, maybe you've developed a game-changing patent that all industry players will need to incorporate into their products. Investigate licensing the patents to other companies could lead to a revenue stream that your company has not yet taken advantage of.
4. Enforcement Actions
No one likes litigation, but sometimes you need to enforce contracts, and you have no other options. This area can be tricky, because you'll have to consider the future business relationships, and what enforcement can mean for them. On the other hand, your company needs to decide whether it will want to continue doing business with a company that doesn't pay, or fulfill its obligations.
Turning the legal department into a profit center won't happen overnight. However, by taking small steps to evaluate your particular business model, to see how the legal department can bring in some revenue, you are giving yourself, and your department, added employment protection.
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