Legal Department Delegation: Shift from Doing to Leading
New research from Onit’s Enterprise Legal Reputation Report revealed that the number one perceived role of the corporate legal team is protector of the business. Enterprise employees rely on Legal to help them operate in a way that is safe and compliant, allowing them to grow the business without putting the organization at risk.
This research also showed that Legal is viewed as a trusted advisor first and a collaborative business partner second. Why? Because senior members of the legal team are often busy with more routine tasks — like contract management — and can’t always respond to more complex matters as quickly as others would like.
One solution to help free up time for the legal department is to delegate tasks to specialists and subject matter experts throughout the business, with guidance and oversight from Legal. This will result in improved communication, collaboration, and trust between Legal and the rest of the company.
Legal has plenty to gain by taking the time to set up an infrastructure that promotes self-service, streamlined communication, and strategic collaboration. Here are a few of the reasons Legal should shift their focus from doing to leading.
By delegating tasks to other teams within the organization, or specialists within the legal department, senior members of the legal team can devote their efforts to more strategic initiatives that drive business impact. Consider implementing clear, detailed procedures so anyone working with Legal understands who is responsible for various tasks and projects. This will streamline legal requests and allow enterprise employees to go directly to the appropriate person when questions or concerns arise.
Better Work/Life Balance
Traditionally, in-house lawyers have struggled to maintain a comfortable work/life balance. Delegating time-intensive activities to non-lawyer personnel, and even automating repetitive tasks, can help shoulder the load for lawyers. According to a 2022 ContractWorks survey, adopting legal tech solutions like contract management software, matter management software, electronic signature, and e-billing software made a significant impact on work/life balance. Almost 40% of in-house respondents who successfully adopted those technologies reported an improved work/life balance as a result.
The combination of delegating certain tasks to non-lawyers and allowing software to help automate routine processes will boost employee satisfaction, making it easier to attract and retain top legal professionals.
More Accurate Processes
By getting the right people involved with key tasks and projects, there’s a greater chance of catching mistakes and reducing errors before they turn into substantial issues. When subject matter experts throughout the business are brought in to own or consult on relevant work, the result is more accurate processes that can be executed in less time.
Better Business Partners
The Enterprise Legal Reputation Report revealed that three out of four enterprise employees feel Legal has room to improve as a business partner, based on things like response time and willingness to collaborate. By delegating responsibilities and giving various departments the power to manage select processes on their own (with feedback and guidance from Legal where necessary), Legal can improve their reputation as an effective business partner and foster better relationships with cross-functional teams.