Roadmap for an In-house Legal Department to deliver on the new value proposition
The notion that an in-house legal team should operate like an internal law firm is giving way to a changed perception of the legal department, that’s more business oriented — a function that drives economic value for the business. Current dynamic business requirements are compelling in-house legal departments to get out of the rigid silos and adopt business friendly fluid structures. In-house lawyers are becoming business partners and enablers, immersed and able to work across functions and emerging opportunities.
The desire to avoid the high cost of hiring outside counsel, always a powerful motivator for business, is being augmented in the current corporate environment by the recent economic crisis, the need to cut costs, and the increasing need to comply with regulation stemming from the corporate and financial scandals of the past decade. To combat this, larger companies are hiring more lawyers to build up in-house legal departments to meet increasing business demands and avoid high outside counsel costs.
Effective legal counsels now need to partner with the business, understand its issues and produce viable and tangible solutions. Lawyers who demonstrate the ability to be business ‘enablers’ and make commercially savvy decisions arguably find it easier to connect with the business teams and will be more successful in their careers. Management increasingly look to legal teams to help make strategic decisions based on both commercial and legal analysis. The ability to provide this combined advice is where an in-house Counsel can really add value to a business.