Skills Workout: How in-house legal teams can articulate their value

This month we look at how in-house legal functions can demonstrate the value they add 

Produced in partnership with LBC Wise Counsel.

What in-house legal teams do that helps articulate their value
Tactically Operationally Strategically
Tactical value is the value that is easiest to count, but the least satisfying as an indicator of true value. It is however simplistic and easy to grasp and therefore of some importance, certainly defensively. Ironically, although not very helpful to judge quality or intrinsic value the following are indicators the business will often request of lawyers – faster, quicker, and cheaper! And so a team often gets stuck here and fails to develop more thoughtful indicators of value. Operational value is the value that is derived from applying insight to operational policy and process and, in doing so, adding value through a closeness of alignment, understanding and access. Good teams move here quickly as they can make their work easier in addition to driving a more efficient model for the business. In essence, tactical value fails when increasing demand creates a bottleneck. Operational value is about alleviating the bottleneck Strategic value is the hardest but most rewarding value to create and articulate. In this construct in-house teams contribute as leaders and business partners. They invent, drive innovation and help the business to work successfully, compliantly and enhancing reputation. If operational value is about alleviating bottlenecks, strategic value is about redesigning the bottle
How many? Matters, contracts, files, disputes etc. Essentially counting activity, not value or quality; but activity is very often a surrogate for value both in the eyes of the business and the lawyer. Lessons learnt from repetition: Ensuring that mistakes are reduced, that process is first developed and then improved with measures to show effectiveness and efficiency Legal risk environment: Assessing the issues outside of the business (sectoral, socio-economic, political etc) and judging them to help the business position and change to new circumstances in the most efficient manner possible
How often? Is this routine or unusual?
Teams normally seek additional resources for routine work; they normally seek to outsource unusual work.
Improving the interface: How does work come into the legal team? How are relationships and expectations managed? Is the team using even rudimentary metrics to look at improving the worth of their contribution? New laws and regulations: Lobbying and shaping opinion as well as anticipating and judging the appropriate and proportionate response.
How soon? The quicker something is finished, the quicker value can be attributed to it Streamlining the process: Once a process is established, how can we remove legal from it? Embedded know-how, self-help tools, training etc Contingency planning: Having thoughtfulness around the significant high impact, but low probability events that are hopefully never needed, but will save the day if they are needed
Feedback loops: Ensuring legal is plugged-in to the plans and objectives of the business. An early warning system to help manage workflow and ensure a more seamless service Compliance modelling: ensuring the business has options to reflect tolerance to risk, but the minimum standards are assured in any event
Lessons in risk assessment: Managing information flows to develop a joined up and common understanding of what the key risks are for the business and how they should be weighted and prioritised Code of conduct: Keeping corporate social responsibility, good business citizenship and ethics at the heart of strategy and operational effectiveness
Lessons in risk management: Ensuring that risk is not just counted, but that solutions are thoughtful, proportionate and effective Business partnering: Active engagement to influence and contribute on a broader front than mere legal issues. A genuine contributor role in executive meetings, shaping policy and influencing strategy.
Leading on non-legal projects: Taking responsibility to lead initiatives, projects and even non-legal teams, so that value is not just orientated around a legal specialism, thus demonstrating broader business skills and helping to reframe how lawyers are perceived in the business world

 

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Filed Under: Analysis

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