Today’s corporations need their law departments to provide legal support that enable them to maximize their competitive advantage, while simultaneously safeguarding against unnecessary risk.

As in-house counsel contend with complex issues such as data privacy and regulatory compliance, they also need new approaches, such as effective project management and greater collaboration between in-house teams, outside counsel and alternative legal service providers to respond to changing demands.

The 2019 State of Corporate Law Departments report identified specific ways general counsel can deliver greater value to their organization, while maintaining cost efficiency.

Legal Executive Institute has gleaned insights from the report, highlighting among its top takeaways: 41 percent of outside lawyers felt their clients could benefit from effective project management training. Skills such as internal organization, coordination and efficiency are the qualities most frequently cited by private practice lawyers of in-house counsel they regard as “standout.”

This finding was echoed as a key to success in a video interview with Mike Abbott, Global Lead of Enterprise Thought Leadership and Content Strategy at Thomson Reuters, and Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO and founder of Acritas.

“The corporate law department is like any department in a corporation,” Hart Shepherd explained. “It has to make an impact, measure and justify its worth and its contribution to the organization.”

Another report finding has implications for midsize law firms that count corporate legal departments among their clients: Know your customers and adapt with them. Whether it’s hiring more project managers or diversifying teams, midsize law firms must differentiate their firms’ capabilities in order to best meet their corporate clients’ needs and to set their firms apart.

Finally, creating an environment for successful innovation is crucial. Embracing innovation is not just about using technology; it also involves building teams and collaborating across disciplines. It starts with in-house teams overcoming two of the biggest barriers to innovation: lack of time and a risk-averse mindset.

For more insights on how general counsel can drive more value in their organizations and develop standout teams, download the 2019 State of Corporate Law Departments report.

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