The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) named the Law Department of MSA Safety Incorporated (NYSE: MSA) as a 2014 ACC Value Champion. MSA’s Law Department was recognized for its innovative legal management practices to improve efficiency, reduce legal expense and achieve better legal outcomes.

ACC, the largest industry group for in-house legal counsel globally, annually recognizes “Value Champions” – Law Departments which deliver excellent value to their corporations. Past recipients include companies such as Pfizer, Nike, Bank of America, GlaxoSmithKline, and Home Depot. The ACC Value Challenge is an initiative to reconnect the value and the cost of legal services, based on the concept that law departments can use management practices that enhance the value of legal service spending to provide excellent service to the corporations they support.

“The 2014 ACC Value Champions demonstrate that data-driven decisions will become a mainstay of law departments of the future,” said Veta T. Richardson, president and CEO of ACC. “The law departments we honor this year, including MSA, used data regarding their workloads, resource allocation and legal outcomes to identify key trends and implement innovative, custom improvements.”

The MSA plan started with a quest to reduce legal expenses, and the law department, which consists of four full-time lawyers and other professionals, embarked on a phased approach.

“Our program’s success couldn’t hinge on leveraging large staffing or abundant resources,” said Stephanie Sciullo, Associate General Counsel at MSA. “It was about aligning attitude and effort with value-based principles. We knew that reducing costs didn’t have to mean sacrificing quality.”

The team started by centralizing all data in a broadly-accessible platform using cloud technology, which improved accuracy and cut the time it took staff to compile key metrics. Next, MSA built a “virtual law firm” made up of experienced lawyers located around the country and headed by a national coordinating counsel at Reed Smith, LLP who helps guide outside counsel efficiencies. In addition, MSA’s Law Department also achieved these efficiencies with the help of its own internal Continuous Improvement specialists in the Operational Excellence Department, which helped facilitate value stream mapping exercises.

MSA works with its firm collaborators to control costs, using reporting and budgeting templates to scope its legal risks, achieving better time and cost savings each year. A main philosophy of MSA’s program is to focus legal efforts on only the essentials – those tasks which make a real impact on the litigation outcomes.