17 April 2024

A roundtable on demonstrating value.

How much does your organisation value Legal’s work? And how can you elevate your standing?

You may be the only lawyer in your business. You may be part of a large corporate team or working for government. The challenges are often similar.

David spoke to Melbourne GCs about proving and creating value at ACC’s recent In-house Counsel Day. Here’s a snapshot of key takeaways from the event:

1. Defining the role of Legal: It’s essential to define the legal team’s role and how clients should engage with Legal. Common challenges associated with a lack of clarity in this regard include:

  • Misalignment re turnaround times
  • Over-servicing certain clients at the expense of others

2. Engaging Legal: Technology can help by providing automated intake forms, but culture is more important than tech. It’s important to improve how clients engage Legal and help clients ask the right questions – and provide the information and documents Legal needs to respond. Clear communications and expectations about roles and accountabilities are key.

3. Strategic involvement: Legal should be actively involved in shaping business strategy rather than merely responding to legal issues as they arise.  Building strong relationships across departments is key to securing a seat at the strategic table. Legal needs to be involved in strategic discussions with clients about forward planning. Regular 1:1s with key internal clients provide a great, low-pressure context to discuss thorny issues like:

  • What’s working well?
  • What needs to change?
  • How can engagement on both sides be continuously improved?

Prioritisation of legal resources based on organisational strategic goals is essential. Legal can either stop or reduce the support it provides for lower priority work, including providing self-help tools to clients.

Changes in strategic priorities and service levels need to be managed carefully with clients and team colleagues. Key measures include setting relevant goals, using clear communications, listening to feedback and refining your approach over time.

4. Responding to emerging challenges: Many teams  find it hard to respond to emerging legal challenges and opportunities. Key challenges faced by Legal include:

  • Many teams don’t forecast legal team requirements at all
  • Of those who, do, most rely on ‘gut feel’
  • Legal often gets dragged into projects without proper resource planning, stretching capacity even further
  • Most legal teams find it hard to access necessary resourcing

Flexibility in resourcing is important, especially when faced with headcount freezes or overload. Using interim lawyers (supported by a business case for extra resources) is a more effective way to manage this workload than outsourcing work to law firms.

It’s also important to remember that Legal can’t cure every commercial problem in their organisation. Other teams don’t think this way and Legal teams need to occasionally give themselves a break.

Unlocking value: how Front Foot can help

We are experts in legal operations and strategy. We can help address challenges such as those identified above.

We use data tools to help legal teams. They can quantify their value and make smart resource decisions.

We offer custom solutions for process improvement and strategic engagement. They ensure Legal has a voice in key decision-making.

We provide change management support and guide legal teams through operational shifts. We empower them to lead, not just support, change.

Front Foot Law is committed to helping in-house legal teams. We can help navigate change, drive strategic impact and unlock their full potential.