Last week, our team spent some time in Austin, Texas, attending sessions at the 2018 ACC Annual Meeting. This year’s event was packed with dynamic and informed speakers who were passionate about the needs of in-house counsel. Though each session covered a different topic, the concept of staying on pace infast-moving and ever-changing times was woven into every learning experience.
A New Approach to Legal Department Leadership
Today’s legal departments are expected to actively contribute to the success of their business. One of the hot topics discussed this year was innovative team approaches and how they are helping legal departments to drive results. The creation of specific teams that are accountable for their results is one tactic being utilized by legal departments to reduce spend, create a better department culture, and increase engagement. When team members are encouraged to “own it,” they gain more skills and contribute more to the success of the business.
One groundbreaking team-building concept emphasized was building generationally diverse teams by identifying the strengths of those who identify with different generations and what tools and concepts that they most relate to. Through establishing the strengths and challenges of those who identify with different generations, legal departments are building more effective communication strategies.
Many law departments are embracing the Operations role as a critical component to delivering value to the company. This is a change that leads the department to deploy “project management” thinking across the department – from how they manage large portfolios of contracts to defending lawsuits, and, of course, technology initiatives.
Legal departments are also evolving through the reduction of reliance on outside counsel. By expecting accountability from the firms that they work with and focusing on high-caliber firms with like values, legal departments are reducing costs and driving change within their business. Through the use of tools like law firm score cards, legal departments can evaluate the firms that they work with and engage in meaningful dialogue that will improve their relationship. Reporting and budget should serve as a key topic in the discussions between legal departments and the law firms that they work with.
Gone is the era where legal department leaders operate in a vacuum. Legal department leaders should also be viewed as change agents who are not only a valuable asset to their team, but to the business as a whole. Senior leadership should not only be an active part of each department team, but also a part of the corporate leadership team.
There is no doubt that change is happening fast within and around the legal departments that we work with. This is why it is so important for our team to stay on top of the advances being made in this specialized portion of the legal industry. As your legal departments evolve, LexisNexis® CounselLink® is focusing on innovations that will help you increase efficiency and adapt to a changing landscape.