When David Allgood, executive vice president and general counsel of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), got the call that he was to receive the Association of Corporate Counsel’s 2009 award for Excellence in Corporate Practice, he was shocked. But the shock was soon replaced with pride and gratitude for what his legal team has helped him accomplish during his tenure with RBC.

During the decade since Allgood joined RBC, he’s worked with his legal team on an initiative to make the bank’s use of outside counsel as efficient as possible. He appointed one lawyer to manage the project, which includes a questionnaire for internal clients to ponder before they retain an external attorney. The “thought piece,” as Allgood describes it, asks clients to consider: Do you really need a lawyer? Do you think we have appropriate internal resources? And what level of risk does the issue involve? The initiative also encourages clients to ask law firms weighty questions to begin building a relationship with them.

“I can’t prove it quantitatively, but I’m convinced in my gut that our management of external spending is more driven by active relationships with law firms than discounts and fee arrangements,” Allgood says. “If people are watching the firms, then you get better performance.”

Allgood joined RBC as senior vice president corporate taxation before being promoted to general counsel in 2000. Prior to his move in-house, Allgood was a partner in the taxation practice at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt.

ACC presented Allgood with the award in Boston during its annual meeting in October 2009.