Serengeti hosted the 2012 Serengeti Summit May 9-11, in an unseasonably warm and sunny Seattle. Eddie Pasatiempo, senior director of client services for Thomson Reuters, shared the shocking statistic that Seattle isn’t in the top 10 rainiest cities in the United States, based on total rainfall. (The city owns the top spot for the most number of rainy days in the year, experiencing at least 1/100th of an inch of rain on 153 days a year.) Those weren’t the only facts and figures shared during this year’s Summit, the theme of which was “Strength in Numbers.” Speaking of numbers, here’s my Top 10 of things seen, heard and observed during the summit:

10. Batter up!  Who knew that baseball would be a central metaphor for this year’s Summit? Discussions about shrinking legal budgets and “doing more with less” led many speakers to evoke Michael Lewis’s Moneyball, a story about Billy Beane, the statistics-driven and unconventional general manager of the Oakland A’s, who built a competitive team on a fraction of the budget of other MLB teams. Very few legal departments have a New York Yankees-sized budget to spend on internal resources and outside counsel. But like Beane, Serengeti legal departments use statistics and benchmarks mined from Serengeti Tracker to obtain additional value and achieve better results.

9. Strength in Numbers. Speaking of data and statistics, did you know that the almost 500 Serengeti legal departments share industry benchmarks through theSerengeti Analytics functionality on Tracker? Want to know the average hourly rate of a 16-year partner doing patent work in Dallas? Ever wonder if you are paying too much for that litigation associate in Philadelphia? Can you validate the hourly rate you are currently paying your outside counsel? The Serengeti Index Rate, based on the billions of dollars of invoices submitted through Serengeti, can tell you. Even better? The more legal departments that join Serengeti, the richer the data pool for the entire Serengeti eco-system. That’s real strength in numbers.

8. That would “B” as in Billions. Eric Laughlin, managing director, Corporate Counsel for Thomson Reuters, shared this jaw-dropper of a statistic: since the company’s inception in 2002, Serengeti has saved more than $3 billion for legal departments through the audit and enforcement of billing guidelines through Tracker’s electronic billing functionality. And that number doesn’t even include savings realized through budgets and other Tracker functionality.

7. I paid for what?! So what’s behind the $3B in costs savings? Some of the Serengeti legal departments entertained each other with a few of their favorite charges found on invoices from outside counsel, including:
– Three movies rented by outside counsel during business trip (cost: $29)
– Stapling and delivering cases to Partner (cost: $240)
– Create .pdf of documents (cost: $190)
– Printing documents from XYZ system (cost: $1,900)

6. Something for everyone. The Summit offered tailored sessions for advanced, long term customers as well as more recent, newer users of Tracker. The 150 attendees included members of the legal teams hailing from Nike (on the system for almost a decade) and American Airlines Mexico, Caribbean and Latin America (MCLA) Division (on the system for a mere 2 weeks).

5. Why I went to law school: I was told that there would be no math. Thought-leader and former general counsel of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC),Susan Hackett, opened her keynote address with the differences between the “Old Normal” and the “New Normal.” How to thrive in the New Normal? DATA. According to Susan, “Data drives demonstrable value.” It also drives continuous (and measurable) improvements, not to mention the power that data has to change behavior (both internal team members and outside counsel). Also discussed? How data and statistics can make lawyers, who are not known for their strong math skills, uncomfortable.

4. “Take small bites and breathe through your nose.” This was the advice that client relationship manager Derek Howell shared with attendees undertaking a global deployment of Serengeti during his session entitled “Rolling-Out Tracker Internationally: Don’t Go It Alone.” Other advice for going global? Build an “A-Team” comprised of representatives from the C-suite/executive team, corporate finance and IT. Maybe “A” in A-Team should stand for “Advocates”, which is especially important to have in a global deployment of Serengeti within a corporation.

3. Thomson Reuters debuts line of formal wear at Awards Dinners. This was the first year that Serengeti held its user summit since being acquired by Thomson Reuters in October 2010. Nothing embodied (literally) this “marriage” more than the tuxedo donned by long-time employee Drew Petty, the emcee of Thursday night’s “Golden Cheetah” Awards Dinner. And not just any tuxedo, but a bright ORANGE tuxedo. (Some might call it Thomson Reuters’ orange, but I’ll let our branding folks make the final judgment call.) The Golden Cheetah recognizes extraordinary achievements of Serengeti legal departments, like the lightening fast 12 day implementation of Sea World’s legal department onto Tracker. Who won first place at the Golden Cheetah? The legal department at Becton Dickinson, who was able to save an impressive $1 million before the first anniversary of their Serengeti implementation.

2. It does take a village. The summit concluded with a panel discussion of Serengeti legal departments, including Nike, Intuit and Albemarle. Each legal department represented a common pain point experienced by Serengeti users: a decade-old implementation didn’t reflect the new realities of the legal department; lack of resources to deploy Serengeti to all practice groups within the department; and reports still being produced in a time-consuming, manual process. The answer to all of these problems:  Serengeti’s new professional services team. Each legal department on the panel took advantage of expert advisors who were deployed onsite to optimize the department’s use of Tracker. The new conundrum for these Tracker users: now that Serengeti is optimized, what are they going to do with all the extra time on their hands?

1. Stay connected to the village. Want to learn more Serengeti-related news, events and best practices? You can visit Serengeti’s recently re-launched website. Alternatively, boost the number of participants on the active Serengeti Law User Group on LinkedIn, or like Serengeti on Facebook or follow the company on Twitter (@SerengetiLaw).

These are just a few of the newsworthy numbers, data points and anecdotes shared at the 2012 summit. Will you be at the next user summit? Stay connected to see when the next summit will be held.

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