Every month, we host virtual meetups for the different groups in our Community of in-house legal professionals. During the past month, we’ve been focusing on a variety of topics – from doing more with less and career planning as junior lawyers, to the current economic situation and ESG.

Here is a snapshot of some of the key takeaways that were discussed in these virtual meetups over the past month.

[Did you know that we host monthly meetings for in-house legal professionals across a number of sub-groups where you can meet, learn, and share with your peers all under Chatham House Rule?]

1) Working in a scrappy legal team

It’s the most popular phrase for in-house legal: “Doing more with less”. But when you’re working in a smaller legal team with fewer resources and lower spend, how do you actually do this? If you can’t automate it, if you can’t get headcount. Then what? 

Our High Growth group had a great discussion around ways to leverage data and powers of persistent persuasion. When it comes to persuading the business, the group shared their tips for bringing the business along with you. From what to communicate and in what order, to which stakeholders to get on board.

They also mentioned redefining the boundaries of legal and training up non-legal colleagues to handle increasing workloads when you can’t increase resources.

2) Career planning as a junior lawyer

In this month’s Crafty Starters call, the group spoke about career planning including planning tools from Amazing If’s Squiggly Careers, like the Love/Learn matrix. This matrix focuses on four elements which can help you review your current role and what might be next: 1) Love 2) Learn 3) Don’t Love 4) Don’t Learn.

But also, how important is it to have a career plan in place? There was debate within the call on whether a career plan is an advantage or disadvantage. There was discussion around whether  career plans can be limiting, and that focusing on creating career possibilities is a better approach to developing your career.

3) How is the current economic situation impacting legal departments?

With high inflation and increased interest rates, the current economic situation is impacting all of us individually. At our recent call for our FTSE & Friends group, we had an interesting chat about how the macro-economic picture is impacting legal departments. 

The effect of all this was that many legal departments noticed shorter contract commitments from customers and longer contract cycle-times, contract indexation discussions and more retendering of suppliers for value. 

Similarly, companies are, of course, cutting costs and looking at efficiencies. For example, choosing not to replace team members who decide to leave. This means increased workload and busyness for all, including the legal team. However, there is an opportunity to discover ways of working smarter to showcase the value of the legal team.

4) ESG

ESG is one of the hottest topics, and it is increasingly becoming a new “thing” on legal’s plate. In our High Growth group, we asked “How is this topic showing up in your work?”. 

There are many reasons ESG is becoming more of a priority for legal teams. Working in venture-backed scaleups and startups, the group noted investor pressure because of increasing ESG regulation they want to protect their investments. Another reason mentioned was customer demands.

Similarly, the group spoke about B Corp certification. Although B Corp is becoming increasingly common, the process can be slow – taking 12-18 months. The drop-in calls hosted by B Corp were discussed as being helpful during the process.

When it comes to external advisors on the topic of ESG, there was a level of cynicism towards law firms within the group. It was suggested that organisations providing a more holistic, business-focused approach could be in a better position to advise because ESG is not just about the law. It’s also about getting leadership buy-in, influencing skills, future-casting and stakeholder management.

There were lots of interesting discussions on a variety of topics within this month’s Community calls. Huge thanks to everyone who joined these sessions for sharing their insights and experiences so candidly.

We are always looking out for good topics and presenters if you have an example or story to share with your group.  Do get in touch with us or the Community Ambassador who runs the calls.
Do you want to join us for these monthly meetings for in-house legal professionals held all under Chatham House Rule? Learn more about joining our Community for in-house legal.