The frequency and nature of group or one-on-one meetings within in-house legal teams can help define the productivity and success of those law departments, according to a Mahlab roundtable.
At a recent roundtable hosted by Mahlab, general counsel in attendance determined that conducting weekly or fortnightly meetings with their team to discuss team matters was crucial for collegiality and productivity.
Those GCs were conscious, however, of not making it a lengthy “work in progress” chat by focusing on “key learnings”, or “three most significant matters” or corporate strategic issues.
“One GC commented that the most beneficial meetings were when lawyers shared their knowledge and acted like a think tank,” according to Mahlab’s post-roundtable briefing.
“Interestingly, one GC – in response to business feedback – had introduced a ‘blue sky thinking’ piece in these meetings, to open their lawyers up to more strategic and commercial thinking. Some GCs were cautious about how meetings can grow ‘like a tumour’, particularly with a large team, so tried to limit their length.
“Others agreed that more informal catch-ups with staff were sometimes more productive. A GC of a large team posted a two-minute video blog to their team every week to disseminate corporate strategy, significant changes or update the team on current issues.”
GCs were unanimously committed, Mahlab’s briefing continued, to having regular one-on-one meetings with staff to engage with their development.
“Several GCs conducted a monthly, quarterly or six-monthly one-on-one meeting to discuss professional satisfaction, goals, workflow, career development, and individual performance,” it said.
“All GCs were firmly of the view that team members valued regular discussions about their development, in addition to their annual performance review, although most still believed that the discipline and structure of the annual performance discussion [were] important. Ideally, they would already be sufficiently engaged with the team member that they would not hear anything they didn’t already know.”
The report also detailed how the in-house legal environment can be “a Hunger Games scenario”, with lawyers vying for promotion and better work, meaning that figuring out how to manage staff is the biggest leadership challenge facing general counsel.