Making the intangible, tangible: Demonstrating value as an in-house legal function

Making the intangible, tangible: Demonstrating value as an in-house legal function

 

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact on organisations, legal departments have a vital role in safeguarding and supporting their companies. Often taking on far heavier workloads.

This week, on Tuesday 16th June, LexisNexis held another of our in-house counsel events – our Flying Solo COVID‐19 discussion forums – hosted in partnership with Radius Law and F‐Lex.

 

Poll insights

 

Findings from our in-house community polls have revealed:

  • Efficiency and reducing risk are the top two ways legal teams believe they can show value to their business
  • 57% of those surveyed said that they will drive increased efficiency from their teams with a greater use of technology
  • 49% of those surveyed stated that they had ‘not given specific attention to legal operations'
  • 50% stated their key challenge in delivering value was that they ‘spend too much time on repetitive tasks that add little value

This week the peer discussion was centred around: “Making the intangible, tangible: Demonstrating value as an in-house legal function”. The session draw upon insight gathered from LexisNexis research interviewing 330 in-house counsel. The topics included were:

  • Key value drivers for legal departments
  • Current legal department tech investment landscape – which tools are being used with success?
  • Barriers and opportunities to demonstrating value

Click here to sign up to receive a full version of the report when it is available.

See below for some of our key takeaways from the session:

 

What do you think demonstrates value of the legal department?

 

1.  Being the 'trusted advisor':  Many attendees said they felt that being a trusted adviser by being integrated into the business, as well as aligning well with the business strategy, allow the legal department to demonstrate their true value.

2.  Get to know the stakeholders:  Knowing the goals, objectives and preferred modus operandi of key individuals within the business were listed as key for a legal team’s success.

3.  Effective risk management:  Risk management, compliance, enabling deals and reaching commercial goals overall.

4.  Saving external costs:  Cost reduction by reducing the need to involve external lawyers. Interestingly, risk management, and saving external costs, were the top two ways that in-house counsel said they felt they were currently delivering value to their organisation. Number 1 in this list, however, was mentioned as the must-have status for the legal department, with many stating this was an area that they are currently trying to improve and build upon.

 

 

[Poll: In what ways does your legal team directly contribute to delivering value to your organisation?]

 

 

How do you measure the success of the legal department or that it is a ‘trusted advisor’?

 

A clear takeaway from the discussion was that COVID-19 has made it more pressing to show value and demonstrate efficiency.

One business has recently introduced a measuring tool to measure the legal team’s value, but it is very much in its early days and proven a little difficult to quantify so far.

One delegate mentioned that his team at another business showed its value by measuring the value of the risk that was managed or avoided by the legal team, and not just the value of the deal itself.

Another business from one of the attendees was said to be going through an audit and the auditors were having trouble finding enough data to assess the team’s value.

 

How does the legal team advertise their successes or their value-add within the business?

 

Many respondents noted that there are currently no specific systems to track success.

Many teams rely on internal feedback to gauge the results and successes of the legal department.

Some attendees mentioned that they had a central system that allows the team to tell the wider business about their successes. They ask for feedback once a year and get ad-hoc feedback where appropriate.

For tips and guidance on this topic, see our article by Richard Mabey, CEO of Juro: How to be a business partner, written specifically for in-house counsel.

 

How to register

 

Join our weekly virtual sessions – hear from peers, share experiences and discuss best steps to protect your organisation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Please join us for our next session, which will be held on:

Tuesday 30 June – 10:15am – 11:00am

Click here to register

 

 

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About the author:

Amy is an established writer and researcher, having contributed to publications, such as The Law Society, LPM, City A.M. and Financial IT. Her role at LexisNexis UK involved leading content and thought leadership, as well as writing research reports, including "The Bellwether Report 2020, Covid-19: The next chapter" and "Are medium-sized firms the change-makers in legal?"