In-house lawyers have a lot on their plates.
While their Law Firm peers might be focused on a particular area of law, a typical in-house lawyer services every part of their business. This means on any given day they could be working on contract law, competition law, mergers and acquisitions, privacy, and everything in between. This is on top of their other business requirements like training and upskilling the business in compliance practices.
It’s not an easy workload to manage, but if you ask top in-house lawyers how they do it you’ll find they share a few common tactics.
In-house lawyers don’t do it alone
Leading in-house lawyers know it’s not a matter of how much you can do on your own, but how effectively you manage yourself, your team and your budget.
Frankly, Legal teams are being asked to do more with less. Legal departments have busy periods just as their business does, but often it’s in these busy times they find they are overwhelmed with Legal administration tasks that grow proportionately with an increasing volume of support requests.
When the pressure is on but there isn’t the option to add full time headcount, many leaders opt for a strategic secondee to fill the capacity gaps.
Engaging with a leading in-house legal services provider, such as Plexus Engage, lets you find the right lawyer with the right experience and skills required to get in and start making an impact from day one.
Depending on your needs, these secondees can be:
· Highly skilled senior lawyers with a range of experience across the legal industry
· Specialist contractors who have expertise in a particular field of law and can take on short-term projects quickly and effectively
· In-house experts who know how to decipher legal jargon to provide actionable advice to your non-legal business
By selecting a secondee from a wide bench of lawyers according to their capacity gap, top in-house lawyers are ensuring they always have the right talent to get the job done.
In-house lawyers leverage technology
The Legal industry have often found themselves guilty laggards when it comes to technology adoption with many lawyers still openly critical of legal technology and actively avoiding it.
Top in-house lawyers set themselves apart by kicking aside these traditions and diving headfirst into the world of tools like legal automation, matter management software and contract management software. Afterall, if their peers in Finance, HR and Sales are leveraging tech, then why shouldn’t they?
These in-house lawyers are using Legal automation to streamline how Legal interacts with the business from managing support requests and managing contract workflows through to allowing for digital execution and secure storage of documents.
By viewing legal automation – and by extension, their legal automation technology provider – as a strategic partner helping the Legal function better serve the business, top in-house lawyers are putting their best lawyer on the desktop of every member of the organisation 24 hours a day to do tedious, routine administration that Lawyers prefer to avoid.
Legal is able to carry on with key strategic Legal work, knowing that the business is able to self-serve compliant standardised agreements (such as NDAs), and get automatic updates with where in the execution workflow their contract is sitting.
As a bonus, this added business transparency across their Legal matters helps to de-clutter the Legal team inbox by reducing the hundreds of emails from the business asking about their contract’s progress.
In-house lawyers advocate and communicate the value of Legal
Ultimately Legal is a part of the business and is held to the same standards of accountability as every other function in that they are measured on the value they provide.
Although lawyers who’ve made their way through law firms might shudder at the thought of performance management, top in-house lawyers hold a different view.
They understand that what gets measured gets managed. And if they aren’t able to effectively communicate the value that legal provides in a way that the business understands, they will find their function squeezed for budget with an expectation to do more still.
Granted it is difficult to measure some of the impact and importance of legal work as it is subjective. And while an in house lawyer services their business, as though they would a client, they can’t produce billable hours because the business doesn’t operate that way.
Still there are ways in which legal value can be measured.
We believe Legal value should take into consideration the value created and preserved and the extent to which Legal’s involvement impedes revenue generation or effective execution of strategy.
Over to you
In-house lawyers are masters at managing both their business Legal activities effectively while translating the ins and outs of the Law to their business.
It is not enough to just be a great lawyer. Acknowledging and taking advantage of the specialised in-house lawyer services available is key to running a successful in-house legal team.