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Transform your legal operating model for the “next normal”

The resilient leader series for general counsel

The increased complexity and divergence of measures around the globe have exposed companies to additional legal, reputational and commercial risks. While vaccines are providing hope for an end to the pandemic, general counsels (GC) and their teams need to re-evaluate how they can support the business in the “new normal”, identify the demands and opportunities they face, and put together the business case for change.

Doing more with less

While once again increased pressure and stretched resources pose constraints on the legal function, it becomes ever more important to rationalise and consolidate external spend, free up talent for higher-level work through alternative sourcing (or automation) and reducing cost/increasing efficiencies through the use of technology and process redesign.

Suggested approach

Scenario planning

Capture the lessons learned from the pandemic so far and develop potential scenarios for both short-term and long-term readiness.

Reformulate your aspiration

Determine what your legal department needs to do to be a true business partner today and tomorrow based on the potential outcome scenarios.

Set KPIs and develop a road map

To the extent possible, determine what needs to be done in the next couple of months and even in the next 1, 2, and 3 years, and how success will be measured.

How do you develop a new legal operating model?

Define the strategy:

  • The legal strategy needs to align with the overall strategy of the organisation and also reflect its risk appetite. It needs to be a tactical response to the revised expectations of stakeholders.
  • Gain buy-in from senior stakeholders, as significant efforts can only be initiated once the GC has backing and the budget to take action.

How do you develop a new legal operating model?

Identify the behaviour:

  • Assess what behaviours are needed to achieve the strategy, the changes required and the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will measure whether the strategy’s objectives are being met.
  • Define a strong governance structure, with clear role descriptions & responsibilities and implement the proposed changes – make it reality.
  • Perform a diagnostic test to identify which other components take priority in moving to the target operating model. An operating model which would help assessing operational performance (efficiency, effectiveness, and customer satisfaction). Also a very useful tool when planning any structural reorganisation.

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Implement and enable:

  • Once defined, turn to the enablers: organisation & people, process and technology & data.
  • Use a robust approach to knowledge management: keep team members up to date, learn from external providers, use technology to track and report, and provide regulatory databases to capture lessons learned, improving efficiency and minimising legal risk and cost.
  • The “next normal” may see sustained higher levels of remote working – keep your workforce connected, provide the infrastructure and support they need, and address any performance-related issues.

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