Written by Paul Drop – Outside General Counsel

Strategy for Legal

Every now and then the strategy for the coming years is on the corporate agenda. The entire company is working on it. Also Legal. This is the time to look back, to reflect on the question: why do we exist as a legal department? To make plans and to determine that improvements are needed. The latter is good. Dissatisfaction, unrest, ‘it grates’; This is all breeding ground for lasting change.



First back to the question: WHY is Legal there? Do you have the answer? Unfortunately, the day when Legal is no longer necessary has not yet arrived everywhere. And in the meantime, the perception of Legal is still often: the ‘no-department’, the ‘rubber stamp’ or ‘a cost item’. It is my experience that Legal and therefore also in-house lawyers still regularly struggle with the question of whether they are allowed to be there and how they can gain influence. And not everyone manages to get past those questions. Yet it is important that Legal knows WHY it is there in the company. This not only contributes to the self-confidence of the Legal Team and the individual corporate lawyers, but also helps to express the importance of Legal internally. And the latter ultimately makes a bottom-line contribution for the company.



And if Legal knows why she is there: HOW do we do that? I recently spent a day working with a Legal Team on the question of HOW, but from a different perspective. This perspective assumes that legal knowledge is sufficiently available (and will be further trained). Furthermore, it presupposes a number of skills that must be present in a team of collaborating legal advisors. So not only knowledge of the law, but also skills in the field of communication, effective collaboration, management, process improvement and use and application of the right technology. Those skills are useful throughout the company.

Of course, not everyone is a fully developed expert in all these areas. But those skills are often represented in a team, and otherwise it is a reason for recruitment. Whether it is at starting level or whether there are experts in the team is not immediately important. Everyone is at least a beginner. Then there is a basis for speaking with experienced colleagues or even experts within the company about a specific issue that requires legal assistance. This way, the in-house lawyer can also determine when a problem is more than just legal and the in-house lawyer also knows when another specialist needs to be called in to solve it. Furthermore, every skill offers opportunities for improvement. A good analysis at personal and team level is then important. There are various useful tools available for this.


And now?

Legal has a unique position in a company: the legal department is better situated than external lawyers and is (potentially) located where a lot of interaction with the business takes place. In addition, the in-house lawyers (and the Legal Team) have a well-stocked toolbox of skills that provide solutions to legal problems within the context of the company’s business and strategy. In short: in-house has so much more to offer. It is high time to market that.

Do you also want to get started with your Legal Team? I would love to work with you on our Legal Team Sessions. Contact us at: info@house-legal.nl to set up the strategy of your Legal Team together!