Episode 2: The value of in-house legal

How do I get management to see the value I bring to the table? In episode 2 of Inspiring Legal, Stine dives into this common in-house issue.


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In this episode, we will be covering a subject that I know a lot of you out there are sitting with. How does management of a tech company see the value of what the legal team is bringing to the table? How do you measure the success of your team's efforts? And how do you make sure the management knows what it is that you're doing? 

From my past, working at an inhouse tech company and managing a lot of people, one of my struggles was always that we were overloaded. We were working so fast and the amount of assignments just kept on piling up. At the same time not everybody at management knew how much we were doing. They didn't know how much we were actually contributing with. Because what happens when you're inhouse legal is that if you're doing your job well, nobody really often notices, because you're mitigating risk, you're supporting closing deals and of course the repthat you're supporting will know it. But it is the sales team who's closing the deal.They're the ones normally getting measured by the impact on the MOR. 

So, how do you showcase the value you as a legal team are delivering to the business? And how do you make sure management knows it, so that when you're at one point either in need of resources or need support, they know why you're coming to them?

I think one of my own experiences was that you should make sure that you have a good understanding of where the majority of your time and the resources that you are using in the inhouse legal team are distributed across the organization. So if you're knowing that 50% of your time, or maybe 75% is used on supporting sales, try to document that amount of work. 

I'm not saying you need to sit and use like a yellow Post-it and write every time somebody in sales are sending you an email or a slack message. But what I'm saying is that if you're helping closing 15% of the deals that month, you as the legal team are making gigantic difference, right? So make sure that you know and you can show that you're doing that.

And another thing is also if you have a seat at the table, and what I mean is if you're a general counsel and you're sitting around the management table when sales are delivering their targets and their results for the month, make sure that you're telling what you have contributed with - how you made that difference. And if you're not, and let's say that you're reporting to the CFO or the COO, send them a report. Send them a report every single month of how you contributed to closing those deals.

What I experienced is that when you're able to do that, all of a sudden, management has a tendency to look and say "jesus, wow, okay, you did all that?" 

And on top of that, well, you're probably also the company's department of common sense.That's at least what I often experience. So, you're sitting there and you're getting all these crazy questions. They have nothing to do with legal, but they're still coming to you and they're kind of going like this: Hey, Stine, we're debating, what about the Christmas party? Do you think it's a good idea to have it in the office, or should we try to find a venue? And you're sitting there and thinking, what does this have to do with me? And you're starting to debate with yourself whether they're asking, because if something were to happen at the office during the Christmas party, are they asking if we'd be more liable? Is that why? But what is often the case is that you are kind of like the reason of sanity. 

You are the voice that often has that good balance and understanding of what's right and wrong, because that is what you do in legal, right? You know what feels right, you know what's good for the business and you also know what's not good for the business.And when the company and the employees at the company start to realize that, they start asking all these crazy questions.They're not crazy, but you know what I mean.Those questions that really don't have to do anything with what it is that you're doing. But you're again, supporting the business. 

So, for me, measuring the success of the inhouse legal teams is, of course, much more than what you're bringing to the table in terms of closing deals together with the sales teams. But any business, regardless of what we might want to think and also hope, is driven by commercial goals. So if you're able to support those goals and show how you did it, all of a sudden, they will not have the same issues with granting you more headcounts, giving you bigger budgets, because they can see all the value you're bringing to that team. 

I am speaking with Jessica, and she is amazing, by the way.She is the COO of Whereby, coming out of Australia, moving to the UK, working for a Norwegian company that is growing fast. You'll hear more about Whereby and what they're doing. Then she moved to the US and now she is not only managing the legal team, buta lot of different teams across the organization. 

And Jessica has a legal background, she has a legal degree, so she will be sharing with us how she's measuring the success of the legal team, how Whereby is trying to really elevate legal support to the business while also enabling good decisions. 

Jessica will be joining us. Stay tuned. Remember to subscribe. And if you want to read more inspirational content, you can always go to www.openli.com/community and read some of the blogs that our community members are writing. They are pretty inspirational.

Looking forward to listening to Jessica's talk. 

So, let's stay tuned.

Thank you so much for listening to Inspiring Legal. Remember to subscribe and if you want more information, you can always go to openli.com/community.