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The red pill for in-house legal teams

May 04, 2017

general counsel legal project management inhouse leadership legal strategy

This is a brilliant, insightful piece by Justine Campbell. It touches on many issues that I am sure will resonate with in-house teams and GCs, such as the importance of legal project management skills, the need for legal to be aligned with the company’s goals, what “partnering with business” should mean and the importance of ensuring the legal team is part of any transformation journey.

Yes, yes, yes to all of the above.

However, what jumps out is how Justine and her team are embracing the changing roles of the in-house lawyers and by doing so, empowering the legal team to better manage priorisation and demand management challenges thus enabling them to be better business partners.

From a GC perspective, the launch of the comprehensive transformation plan is exceptionally interesting, and highlights the strategic role that GCs play within an organization.  Many equate transformation to digitalization, but that is not the case and Justine lays that out in this piece.  It is about accurately assessing the status quo, understanding the culture, goals and maturity of the business and then creating an management and operating model that best serves the business.  Technology might play a part in that model, but it should not be the central piece.  And as many great leaders know, it is essential that a transformation process is NOT about enforcing change but inspiring and bringing the team along the transformation journey.

Although for many it may appear that human cloning or time travel is the only way to create time, by empowering your team with the right skills and transformation plan, the revolution might be closer than you think.

My (and my team’s) biggest challenge is prioritisation and demand management – trying to ensure that we are all aware of increasingly complex and challenging issues across multiple businesses and geographies, plus managing increasing levels of demand with no incremental capacity. Demand management is a challenge for many – especially as the range of issues covered by in house legal teams has expanded both into specialist legal areas plus related areas such as compliance or risk. This stretch provides great interest and opportunity but has contributed to a lack of clarity about where the legal role starts and stops in some companies.

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