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How to create unity in a cross-border legal team

Creating one unified team is one of the challenges facing companies and organisations with employees in different areas of the world, according to an associate general counsel and head of legal for a global company.

user iconGrace Ormsby 09 April 2019 Corporate Counsel
Katrina Johnson
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Uber Asia-Pacific’s Katrina Johnson was speaking recently at the Corporate Counsel Summit on the topic of ‘Navigating challenges with different jurisdictions’ when she emphasised the importance of culture in legal teams operating across borders.

“Culture is most of the secret sauce,” she said, telling attendees to hire for and nurture culture, “and the rest will (usually) follow”.

While addressing the room, Ms Johnson asked those present to reflect on what they want their cultural identity to be”.


By crowdsourcing ideas and giving ownership of culture back to employees, Ms Johnson said it is possible to come up with a holistic view on a legal team’s identity, common purpose and mission.

Offering up the sentiment that “emotional beats transactional”, the associate general counsel iterated the importance of knowing team members individually, and reciprocating this knowledge if you are a team leader by hosting “ask me anything” sessions so the team can get to know you too.

Ms Johnson said she considers group activities as invaluable for aiding in understanding your colleagues’ individual drivers, while facilitating empathy and inclusion.

The head of legal then offered up that “there are no great substitutes for in-person meetings”.

Especially in cross-border organisations, Ms Johnson considered that “clarity matters even more”, and is “especially important if you’re not all located together”.

By setting a team vision and goals, “everyone is working from the one source of truth”.

Once the team is aligned, Ms Johnson said “they can [more easily] navigate supporting cross-border markets because they have a clear guiding framework”.


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