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How to combat hesitancy when introducing a new in-house role

The head of legal operations at Gap Inc. has provided insight on how to navigate the idea of implementing this kind of role within the in-house team.

user iconEmma Musgrave 25 September 2018 Corporate Counsel
new in-house role, lawyers
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Speaking at the annual CLOC Australia Institute Conference, held in Sydney earlier this month, Mike Haven, head of legal operations at Gap Inc., shed light on how to effectively manage any hesitancy when it comes to employing someone dedicated to the legal operations of a business’ in-house team.

“You walk in the door, you’re the first legal operations director and there are all these people who have been there for years, and they don’t know what you do: Why are you here? They’re worried. Are you here to replace my job with robots?,” Mr Haven told the crowd.

“You have to have an elevator pitch to describe your role and what value you intend to bring to the organisation. I think that’s really important to have in your back pocket. You have to be able to describe your role to people throughout the organisation because it really is a cross-functional job.


It’s one of the few jobs that touches everything and that's one of the reasons why it’s so fun and exciting.”

Mr Haven suggested that before starting, the legal operations employee should ask a lot of questions and figure out where the priorities in both the business at large and in the in-house legal team lie.

“You want to talk to your GC about what your strategies are and where you need to be focusing, he said.

You want to be talking to all the practice area leaders throughout your legal team and you want to make sure youre asking a lot of questions of your business partners because youre going to be working with finance, IT, HR, and others a lot and it’s important that you gain a lot of information from them so you can decide what your priorities are and what direction you want to go,” he said.

“It can be overwhelming; it's a sprint not a marathon and you have to do it step-by-step.

The next step is to figure out what resources you have and how to utilise them, according to Mr Haven.

“Then you have to figure out whos going to help you, he said.

If you're a team of one you might need to leverage a lot of other people throughout the company.

Or, if you’re fortunate enough to have headcount and hire outside of the organisation then you’re in luck because there are a lot more people out there who are interested in doing legal operations nowadays than there were five years ago.”

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