Even more so than in the extraordinary year that was 2020, leaders of law departments are struggling to set aside time to reflect upon and action their work, new research shows.
Global alternative legal service provider LOD has released its Trust: An Antidote to Uncertainty report, in which it surveyed 183 senior legal counsel worldwide about the depth and sustainability of changes observed and experienced 18 months into the global COVID-19 pandemic, together with the state of affairs in legal teams across sectors.
Last week, Lawyers Weekly detailed, as per that report, the extent to which law departments trust their organisations, department leaders trust their teams, and – correspondingly – whether businesses are more trustful in turn.
Last year, the top four challenges experienced by in-house leaders were finding the time to think, alongside doing the actual work (63 per cent), prioritising large volumes of work (59 per cent), dealing with unprecedented or novel issues (53 per cent) and ensuring that risk is appropriately managed (47 per cent).
While navigating unexpected and new hurdles did not make the top four in 2021, the other above challenges appear to have been heightened this year, LOD reported.
In 2021, the top four challenges for in-house leaders were finding the time to think, alongside doing the actual work (69 per cent), prioritising large volumes of work (66 per cent), ensuring that risk is appropriately managed (47 per cent) and dealing with budget restrictions (45 per cent).
Such findings indicate that it has become increasingly difficult for leaders of law departments to set aside time to reflect on the work allocated to their teams and action said work, and that triaging work is also becoming tougher, on top of dealing with elevated concern about budgetary constraints.
In order to better manage such concerns, LOD outlined four top tips for successful leadership, distilled from responses from survey participants, starting with better trusting one’s team: “You’re not alone, avoid micromanaging and have confidence in your team to do the right thing.”
Secondly, it suggested supercharging the team’s focus: “Concentrate on what’s most important to the business and don’t lose sight of the medium and long term.”
Thirdly, it advised the provision of practical advice for one’s business or organisation: “Take a risk-based approach when giving legal advice – you can’t gold-plate everything.”
Finally, LOD stressed the importance of positivity: “You’re the leader of your team and need to role model a positive and resilient mindset.”