The pandemic combined with the changing market landscape is driving a new wave of disruption that organisations have to deal with. In times such as these, legal leaders have to build organisational resilience to absorb, recover and adapt. For General Counsels (GCs), Gartner research has identified six shifts that legal leaders will have to drive in their legal operating model to drive organisational resilience for today and the coming years. Here are the six shifts:
01 Value driver: Legal leaders need to offer deep expertise to help business partners make good risk-adjusted decisions. They need to move from being the strategic partner they play currently to being a disruption risk guide.
Action steps for GCs
- Work with business-unit leaders to understand how legal creates organisational drag.
- Target legal processes and cultural norms that contribute to drag and keep legal from enabling adaptive risk-taking.
- Ensure that leadership consistently champions and incentivises adherence to processes and technology that speed risk-aligned guidance.
02 Service portfolio: Move from prioritising by business partner urgency to prioritising by decision-making impact. According to Gartner, 20% of legal department time spent on unplanned, high-urgency work is wasted. GCs need to focus on what legal can do to drive the most significant impact on enterprise decision making,
- Agree with functional and business leadership on appropriate service levels for upcoming corporate decisions.
- Determine which upcoming decisions pose novel legal questions; codify guidance and integrate them into business partner workflows.
03 Delivery model: GCs need to be able to balance scale and responsiveness. It means moving away from the current practice of offering highly customised guidance. According to Gartner, highly customised advice while being responsive is not efficient or scalable. Hence GCs must look at enterprise-level responsiveness by scaling guidance and employing indirect support for “run the company” work.
Actions steps for GCs
- Map business processes that use high-volume legal workflows standardise and build in legal guidance as required. Ensure adequate governance.
- Train business partners on using embedded guidance (emphasise that standard recommendation is faster).
- Develop a process to disaggregate critical work into discrete tasks.
04 Sourcing model: Move from procuring issue-based expertise to creating a task-based network. GCs must disaggregate matters into individual tasks and assign them to the best provider in a diverse network that offers 360-degree issue support.
- Identify strengths and weaknesses of potential providers.
- Align providers to tasks and risks accordingly (at the right cost)- onboard them, ready to be called upon when needed.
- Evaluate switching costs vs. disaggregation benefits.
- Incentivise lawyers to follow resourcing guidelines by making them easy to use and clarifying their benefits to the department and individual lawyer workflow (e.g., completion speed)
05 Technology strategy: GCs must focus on experimenting with delivering business outcomes and move away from the current practice of investing in market leaders to increase capacity. The general tendency is to invest in market hype rather than focusing on their own underlying needs and the investments that could impact broader business outcomes.
- Identify and prioritise where best-fit technology solutions can improve legal processes, operational capabilities and business outcomes.
- Create new operating processes in conjunction with technology investments.
- Work with stakeholders to identify future needs, pressure-test hypotheses and co-create potential solution designs.
06 Talent strategy: The focus must be on fostering dynamic skill-building. GCs should identify and adjust skill gaps and mix. They must re-engineer processes to align to skills.
- Partner with HR to create a shared skills inventory to find available talent with skills to support legal.
- Develop processes to decide when to build, buy or borrow necessary skills, and identify the best-fit sources of skills within and beyond the organisation.
- Motivate legal staff to build critical new skills by changing goals and incentives.
Access the full Gartner report here on key changes required in the legal operating model to build organisational resilience https://www.gartner.com/en/legal-compliance/trends/future-of-legal-2025
Access our blog for more industry updates https://www.lawimage.com/blog-2/law-image-blog/.