Recently, we sat down with a dozen FTSE100 GCs to discuss The Lawyer’s annual report on them and their peers. The discussion echoed many other conversations we’ve had with GCs in the UK and around the world. From our perspective, the three hottest topics were, in no particular order: doing more with less, the rise of legal operations, and fostering diversity.
As businesses continue to exert pressure on law departments to cut spend, both in-house and on outside counsel, the ‘doing more for less’ challenge is here to stay. Some GCs are rebalancing the equation by actually doing less law, rethinking how the work is done, redistributing how it is resourced, and redesigning processes to eliminate waste. Tactics include building self-service solutions to handle routine requests, mapping processes so they can be improved, and creating playbooks that enable more junior resources to provide support.
Increasingly, GCs rely upon legal operations as a discipline to help their teams manage and execute more effectively. Quickly-growing legal ops groups including CLOC and ACC Legal Ops provide valuable forums for exchanging tactical advice and defining best practices.
A growing number of GCs are actively concerned with fostering diversity, both in-house and amongst their outside counsel firms. Some express frustration with firms they described as being more focused on lip service than on actual improvements.
It was abundantly clear that we are living in an era of change in the legal sector. A growing number of GCs are personally driving that change, running law departments more like businesses, and setting standards that their peers can follow.