In-house Insights – July 2020
Following the success of our In-house 2020 event this is the first in our series of In-house Insights, a regular, brief round-up of recent news and developments with a focus on impact and relevance to in-house legal teams.
It really does seem literally an age ago when, back in February, we had the pleasure of hosting a roomful of actual human beings in a physical space, discussing the challenges facing in-house legal teams and ways in which external providers can more effectively and meaningfully give support.
It is a glaring understatement to say that the world we live in has changed dramatically since then. As a law firm, we have faced the dual challenge of adapting to the changed environment for our own people and operations while maintaining focus on supporting clients in meeting their new challenges and constantly shifting priorities.
There is something of an irony in that the COVID-19 lockdown has prompted a proliferation of freely-available high quality online content, while at the same time creating an environment where most in-house lawyers have less time on their hands to consume and benefit from it, at a time when perhaps they need it most.
Little has changed in our original rationale for In-house Insights, which has been to provide value to in-house teams with concise, focused and timely roundups of relevant news, resources and insights. I very much hope you find that this bulletin meets this objective.
Whether you regard “legal operations” as a meaningless buzz-phrase or a key strategic function, there is no doubt that applying business management disciplines to the running of a legal function is more critical than ever in times of particular resource constraint. LOD recently ran a roundtable event for legal operations professionals and have provided a very helpful single slide summary of key issues discussed, which I think will resonate with many (PDF): https://lodlaw.blob.core.windows.net/media/documents/LOD_Legal_Ops_Peer_Chats_Summary.pdf
What should I be expecting from my external providers?
In-house lawyers on social media have not been shy in expressing dissatisfaction on being bombarded by law firms with generic COVID 19 newsletters on subjects like force majeure. It has been said that this approach is “tone deaf” and demonstrates lack of care or understanding about the more bespoke support they really need. In this excellent blog Dennis Kennedy explains what he describes as a mutual “disconnect” between in-house and private practice and how both parties might practically go about improving the effectiveness of their relationships: https://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/2020/07/the-biggest-disconnect-in-the-legal-industry/
Technology can provide the solution, right?
Many in the industry are frustrated with what feels like an interminable conversation between legal and IT in search of genuinely effective technology solutions. In this article, Paul Gilbert gives some typically incisive insight on some key issues that may have been overlooked in this conversation in the rush to sell or buy the latest shiny gizmo:
Are you being Crafty enough?
When I mentioned above “freely-available high-quality content” there is no better example of the genre than Crafty Counsel, which amazingly has recently announced free-to-all access. In terms of value of knowledge per minute spent, there are few better places (apart from In-house Insights, of course…) for in-house lawyers to spend their precious reading & listening time. Here is a great taster: https://craftycounsel.co.uk/boxset/my-life-working-with-law-firms-a-general-counsels-view
Updates from our range of specialist legal content, including events, podcasts and webinars can be found on our News & Insights page, or you can subscribe to receive email updates on your selected topics here.
If you are interested in understanding how we support and work effectively with in-house legal teams, or would simply like to chat through some of the issues above, please feel free to contact Ian Machray – [email protected]