In an era of unprecedented disruption in the legal industry, workloads, compliance costs and risks are increasing and General Counsel are being asked to drive efficiencies in order to do “more with less”. General Counsel are also being asked to drive economic value and contribute to strategy. In order to do so, they need to create, develop and retain an engaged world class team. We have summarised our best tips below from our work with General Counsel around how best to meet these challenges.

Creating a world-class, engaged team

When building a world class team, it is important to:

  • Ensure that all of the lawyers are competent, collaborate effectively and are trusted. Work should be equally shared and high performers appropriately rewarded. Effective performance management aligned to your strategy also plays a key role.
  • Ensure that lawyers work effectively with the business. There should be legal representative at every strategic table and the legal team should be influential across the whole business.
  • Provide effective training to lawyers to ensure they have the necessary skills to do the strategic work. Opportunities must be created to ensure lawyers can work in different areas and learn new skills and General Counsel should engage external trusted relationships to support on this.

Creating value

  • An in-house team will be more valued if it is contributing to the strategic matters. To have time to do this, better ways of managing the low value/risk work must be adopted.
  • The legal group is often in the unique position of being across all issues and so can play a role in improving collaboration and driving information across different business areas.
  • There are many initiatives that are aligned to legal, that can add value to the whole company such as contract management. Legal is often in the best position to help drive these initiatives.
  • A legal team will also be more valued if it can influence management and help determine direction, values and culture of the business.

Creating efficiencies

  • Efficiencies can be achieved by ensuring that the legal team is properly prioritising work and spending time on high value strategically important work.
  • It is also important to effectively triage work so that senior lawyers (more highly paid) are not doing work that more junior lawyers (with lower pay) could do.
  • Determining what to “push down, “push out”, “push away” and “pull in” is critical to support this and a triage system can also be used to ensure that work is fairly allocated.
  • Often, work decisions are based on “gut feel” rather than being data drive. If data is collected it can often be used to drive efficiencies.
  • Technology can be used to drive efficiencies particularly in relation to repetitive or labour intensive tasks.

The Future Project

The Future Project was born out of a passion to connect with our clients on a larger story – the future, their future, our future together. As part of our Future Project series we’ve been connecting with our GC’s to understand what’s top of mind for them, as they face into the future. Yet that’s not all. We’ve been engaging in a dialogue with our clients across a number of key issues across Finance, Technology, Energy, Cities and Health. See our Future Project series here.