4 trends and what CCs should be doing about them

By Grace Ormsby|15 January 2019

Moving towards 2020, the role of corporate legal and compliance continues to “shapeshift”, but there are four main trends to be aware of in 2019, according to a global strategist.

In an article for the US’ Corporate Counsel, ‘Four Business Trends Likely to Affect Your Corporate Legal Team in 2019’, E. Leigh Dance, a consultant and strategist for ELD International LLC, said “it’s more important than ever to keep your attention focused, not only on what your legal function does but how you do it”.

She noted that there are four trends “likely to affect your job in 2019”, with each presenting an opportunity for leadership to demonstrate results.

1. Change behaviours to leverage technology and advance your legal team

By relentlessly communicating and practicing inclusive leadership, Ms Dance said “you can help your team embrace and thrive through constant change in both the business and their daily practices”.

“Your vision is worth little if your whole team doesn’t understand and own it”, Ms Dance said.

“In-house leaders at all levels may need support to learn how to maintain engagement, productivity and loyalty” in organisations during change, she re-enforced, noting such actions as essential, yet rarely learned in formal or professional education.

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2. Disrupt your legal function’s approach to professional development

Ms Dance said professional development will continue growing in importance in 2019, to achieve transformation objectives and attract talent.

As today’s in-house counsel jobs demand a greater focus on professional development models, Ms Dance noted that growth through “classical, virtual and on-the-job learning is a top motivator of corporate counsel – especially millennials”.

She said in-house lawyers “must decide what new skills are required to align with your vision and achieve goals, and what old skills don’t matter anymore”.

“Demonstration of the so-called soft skills or competencies is now a primary driver to identify and select corporate legal chiefs,” she explained, adding that managing a crisis and influencing stakeholders is compulsory.

“To progress as you envision, your top talent needs to gain these leadership competencies.”

3. Let legal take the lead in promoting and defending the company’s ethical reputation

Trust in mature economies is at an all-time, worldwide low according to Ms Dance. As a result, an organisation’s position on prominent and politicised issues “can influence your customers, your employees, your investors, and your regulators”.

“What do you stand for?” Ms Dance questioned, stating that the general counsel “is in an excellent position to take the lead in developing your company’s ethical reputation and protecting it.

For Ms Dance, the first step is to analyse reputational risks most likely to affect your company now, while also looking to the company’s cultural values and history.

She suggested looking “at others’ situations that consistently attract negative or positive attention from employees, investors and media, then help the C-suite determine the ethical positions that feel right to your company, and prepare t show how you live up to those values.”

4. Learn to live with 11th-hour political and regulatory developments

Stress-testing teams in new ways for 2019, Ms Dance said this concept will extend “beyond sanctions and trade wars to restricting or enabling access to markets”, as well as affecting cross-border movement of people and data”.

“Legal professionals can be a voice of calm, but you also must be ready to move fast,” she commented.

To manage their own stress and that of internal clients, Ms Dance said in-house teams should prepare their executive leadership to “comprehend the desired and the possible”.

“Select the issues most likely to affect your organisation’s financial performance or legal risk and determine how your organization might be affected, if and when,” she instructed.

“Create processes to horizon scan, scenario plan and respond decisively.”

Interested in the issues shaping the in-house legal landscape? Don’t miss your chance to hear from local and global in-house legal powerhouses at the 2019 Corporate Counsel Summit

4 trends and what CCs should be doing about them
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