Legal Transformation: The new playbook
Most legal functions continue to cling outdated operating models with no transformation plan. They do so at their peril.Read the article
“As CEOs plan their strategies to take advantage of transformational shifts,” the consultancy PWC suggested in their annual survey of CEOs “they are also assessing their current capabilities – and finding that everything is fair game for reinvention.”
This is not a new trend. Back when the in-house legal function was first taking shape, in the mid 90s, CFO’s recognised it was time to change the finance function. A confluence of demand for greater decision support, operating cost pressures and the opportunities presented by finance automation meant they had to rethink how they added value – or become obsolete.
For the next 20 years the buzzword for CFOs remained largely the same: Finance Transformation. As a result, finance moved from ‘the Accounts Function’ to the most powerful force in any business.
Soon HR, IT, Procurement, and most other core functions, caught the buzz and launched their own ‘transformation’ initiatives. The playbook was largely the same regardless of the function:
Legal, being a relatively new function, is only now starting to come to terms with what ‘transformation’ might mean. Given other functions have a 20-year head start, the GC's have some catching up to do.
Fortunately, as the diagram below shows, most progressive GCs see unprecedented need and opportunity to initiate a transformation initiative.
The data, from research outfit CEB, shows that General Counsels are starting to think differently about the capabilities that make up their functions. There are several key lessons:
Perhaps most critically, ‘Legal Transformation’ will not only affect ‘who’ focused on in this article, but more importantly; ‘what’ the function does, and ‘how’ they do it.
Those GCs who don’t make the shift to new functional structures, locus of activity, and adoption of technology will be trapped in the cycle of lower budgets and greater workloads, thus not taking full advantage of the Legal capabilities of the future.
The few GCs that successfully navigate Legal Transformation will become key leaders in the legal landscape and businesses that are increasingly based on IP, confined by regulations, and defined by legal complexity.
With the future of the in-house legal function ever evolving, in order to support our clients on this critical initiative Plexus is investing in Research on Legal Transformation and Innovation. Please reach out to us for advice and support.
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