From necessity to innovation: strategies and practices for disruptive times

The featured speakers - Leah Cooper (former General Counsel and a noted legal innovation consultant), and Bijoya Roy (Global General Counsel at Flipkart) took a group of over 50 General Counsels, Heads of Functions and Enterprise Leaders through their own learnings, challenges and path ahead for enterprise leaders. A summary of the key points is set out below.

Key Takeaways

  1. Know your business and its objectives How well do your advisors understand your business? How well does your team understand the business? How well do you understand your business and its objectives?
  2. Align the legal team to key business objectives Most legal teams are set up to enable “business as usual” - which is to run, protect, and defend the business. For Legal to become a strategic partner, it is also important that Legal enables the growth of the business, while protecting the downside risk. To achieve each of these objectives, there is a different strategy and operating model that is required. It is important to align this operating model with different business objectives.
  3. Tracking legal budget for the fiscal year While GCs track and manage external legal spend closely, it is critically important to also track internal costs. Identify the key aspects of the legal budget, on the basis of internal cost and evaluate the right mix.
  4. Creating an agile legal team for changing business needsCreate a flexible, and agile team that can adapt quickly to a dynamic environment and take on new challenges. Having a high learnability quotient, and a mix of specializations will build this at an individual and team level.
  5. Future-proofing legal teams A crisis, brings with it uncertainty, and more work for the Legal Department. Partner with a managed service provider to increase bandwidth, as well as reduce cost and timelines, related to a sudden increase in the volume of work. Explore legal technology products to integrate with your team.
  6. Opting for a blended modelFor larger enterprises, having a blended model of (i) generalist lawyers, who enable the running and protection of the business; and (ii) specialist lawyers, who enable the growth and defense of the business, can be valuable in the current crisis. Within the enterprise, the priority should be refocussed to build and create for the future - by having a team of generalists and specialist lawyers.

We also had Balanand Menon, Head of Consulting at Vahura, share some of the key findings of the Vahura survey. The survey was taken by over 90+ General Counsels and focussed on how legal teams are managing the COVID-19 outbreak and the impact on their business. A detailed analysis of the survey will be out shortly.

Some of the other key inputs and points shared by participating General Counsels were:

  • Digitize practice areas with the greatest volume and capacity for standardization.
  • Assess the long term impact of short term actions. This is particularly important in a crisis scenario, as we are taking quick decisions, without assessing the long term impact of such decisions.
  • Adjust the risk aperture of legal, to be more tolerant of certain types of risk.
  • Facilitate quicker decision making and approvals by using technology. For eg., virtual board or committee meetings.
  • Time for leaders to be bold and decisive.

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