Legal can often be a hidden gem in the business – with people not quite recognising the value you bring or understanding what you even do. But equally, it can be challenging and confusing to even know what your CEO or executives are looking for. How can you bring them the value they want, so you can make sure the legal team is no longer hidden away?
At Crafty Counsel, we’ve decided to peel back the layers and dive into what they really want from you – the in-house legal team. We looked back at some of our panel discussions from our events with legal teams and their businesses to share some of their key tips and takeaways.
In the mind of a FinTech business
During our Fintech Day last year Simon Coles (General Counsel, Monument Bank) sat down with BCB Groups’ Oliver Tompkin (Co-Founder & Director) and Richard Cook (COO) to ask: what do Fintech businesses want from their legal teams?
Oliver made it clear that they “ want imagination, commerciality, positivity, and they want to be told how they can do it whilst avoiding going to prison.” Sounds simple, right? Well trying to remain focused, whilst conjuring up creative solutions is not as simple as it sounds. This balancing act can often bring up its own challenges.
As Richard pointed out, it’s equally important to find someone who “has some level of ability to recognise when they don’t know something, but will find the answer as quickly as they can.”
Getting to know other members of the business is also essential. If you want the legal team involved in more aspects of the business, you must have strong relationships and be able to communicate effectively with non-lawyers. In the final parts of the interview, Oliver made it clear “don’t be afraid to get out there, meet all the stakeholders in the business or various teams, and you make yourself visible.” Forming these strong relationships with other teams will not only strengthen your skills and knowledge, but allow you to support the business more effectively.
Most importantly Oliver and Richard say they “want people to get it right” without putting pressure on the team. To thrive in this environment, you need to be “thick-skinned, robust, and stubborn. Someone who makes sure their voice is heard,” explains Richard. With this in mind, we must remember that as humans we inevitably do and will make mistakes, but being able to own up to them and make the necessary changes is essential.
In the mind of the Chief Transformation and Operating Officer
With the CEO at the front of the business, getting an insight into what they want from their in-house lawyers is vital to success. During a panel at Crafty Fest hosted by Stephanie Hamon (Head of Legal Operations Consulting, Norton Rose Fulbright), the Bupa team explored what the business really wants from legal. Before even starting Rob Edmondson, Chief Transformation and Operating Officer of Bupa, shared an interesting insight: “what the business wants from legal is for you guys to get out of legal and close to the boardroom.”
Rob shared that “anticipating legal risk and providing sound outcome-focused advice,” is something that many executives “ would commonly put that right at the top of their list”. This didn’t come as a surprise to the panel, or probably to you, because they knew their value as a legal team lies in advising the company on what their next steps.
Aligning strategy and business performance is also key. Rob explained how he likes his legal teams to look at this in two ways.
- “So first of all make sure you’re tuned in live to what the business strategy is and what business performance is.”
- “You’ve got very clear KPIs or metrics set out which are backed up by data to demonstrate how you are meeting them”.
Managing workload would be Rob’s final point for in-house lawyers to focus on. “You don’t control the demand that’s going to come through to you because it’s dictated by what the business wants to do.” However, keeping productive, prioritising workloads, and meeting deadlines are key to proving to the business why they need a legal team.
Want to discover more about what the business wants from legal? Or are you stepping into a senior role and looking for some tips and tricks? We have a whole archive of content where you can filter by this topic.