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The majority of General Counsels and in-house lawyers are eager to take on a more strategic function within their organisation, as well as develop the in-house expertise of their teams and embrace digital transformation initiatives. But one of the biggest blockers stopping these changes from taking place is the high volume of routine, repetitive work that gets placed on their desks.
So, how can in-house legal teams save time and increase productivity to move on to more important work?
Director of Strategic Markets at LexisNexis, Mark Smith, has a few ideas. Smith, who moved to an international in-house legal team after spending a decade at national and City law firms, says there’s some truth behind these three commonly used buzzwords: people, process and technology.
Investing in people is a really key part of being an effective leader in an organisation, says Smith, who currently leads LexisNexis’s engagement efforts with large law firms and in-house teams.
When Smith was working in-house, he was asked by his General Counsel to spend approximately 20% of his time developing his people, and the impact it had on his team and his individual performance was huge – so much so that he has made it his mission to continue the approach in every role he’s had since.
Where do you find the time to invest a fifth of each working day developing others? That’s where process comes in, says Smith.
Smith emphasises the need to step back and find new ways of doing things. “Even if every time it seems like you’re doing something unique, there’s typically a series of steps that need to get done in a certain order,” he says.
Set some time aside with key stakeholders and map out the things you need to do, says Smith. “Very quickly you will see there are often smarter ways of doing things.”
Technology can easily distract us and divide our attention, says Smith, and giving all our time to a constant stream of emails, instant messages and WhatsApp notifications will do us more harm than good.
“What we need is good quality blocks of time,” says Smith, who suggests turning off your notifications during these periods.
He also suggests tech tools like Calendly, which can save you time scheduling meetings, Doodle, which makes it easy to schedule multiple party meetings, and TechHIt’s Simply File, which enables you to easily file sent emails. Another useful tool is Lexis Create, which helps lawyers easily draft legal documents by searching for and saving clauses without leaving the Microsoft environment. This saves a huge amount of time by eliminating the need to recreate the same or similar documents again and again, and it reduces the risk of distractions.
Alongside his work for LexisNexis Mark is a Fellow and Senior Advisor at Judge Business School, Adjunct Faculty at Henley Business School and an Affiliated Lecturer at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Law. Mark holds an MBA and an MSc in behavioural change and is a practising executive coach working with law firm management and senior in-house lawyers.
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Louisa leads marketing for the in-house legal community at LexisNexis. She joined the dedicated in-house team at LexisNexis four years ago and has a passion for driving and facilitating initiatives which are customer-focused at their heart. Her vision
is to support in-house counsel succeed in their fast-evolving role based on deep insight, data analysis and best practice gathered across the in-house community.
Prior to her in-house focused role, Louisa led the marketing for the bar and mid-market private practice sectors as well as product marketing lead for LexisPSL - LexisNexis' cloud based, practical guidance and legal research software solution.
She brings 20 years' marketing experience both client and agency side, specialising in B2B marketing in the Legal, TMT (Telco, Media and Technology) and Financial Services industries. In both South Africa, Europe and the UK.
Louisa is also an active member on the LexisNexis Gender Equality Matters (GEM) steering committee and is involved with the Families at LexisNexis Group which brings together, supports and lobbies for change those with an interest in balancing the challenges
of work and family.
0330 161 1234