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Placing trust in in-house teams

In this day and age, law department leaders should be fitting work around the lives that people lead, said one GC.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 02 November 2021 Corporate Counsel
Sarah Standish
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Speaking last week on a special episode of The Corporate Counsel Show – produced in partnership with LOD – St Barbara general counsel and company secretary Sarah Standish (pictured) detailed how she puts trust at the forefront of her leadership in allowing staff the flexibility to work in ways that make the most sense to them, so as to get the most out of their work.

The episode featured a discussion of LOD’s recent Trust: An Antidote to Uncertainty report, which unpacked how trusting in-house lawyers are and the challenges around finding time to think.

Ms Standish mused that she has “generally placed a lot of trust” in her teams over the years, noting that flexibility for people to work in their own ways is essential.


It is important, she said, to “fit work around the lives that people do need to lead”.

“The benefits I see from placing more trust in my team are that I have much more engaged and empowered employees,” she proclaimed.

“I can really see that they really enjoy their work. I can see greater collaboration with our stakeholders. They really enjoy the relationships that they get to develop with me having that trust in them as advisors and partners to the business.”

Allowing such flexibility and autonomy for members of the law department helps, in turn, to build trust in that department, Ms Standish went on.

If in-house lawyers are better placed to work in ways that make sense to them, she said, they will be better equipped to manage legal risks, drive the business forward and achieve its strategy. Moreover, she added, creative solutions can arise.

“I really enjoy seeing the team develop and grow. I certainly see the benefit of not having to be a micromanager and placing greater trust in their ability to do more. That’s a positive thing, for a leader to see their team really flourish,” she reflected.

In the aforementioned episode, Willis Towers Watson head of legal (Asia-Pacific) Jon Downes said that in order to ensure the wider business knows how well the law department is performing, leaders must create an environment of sustainable engagement.

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Jon Downes, Paul Cowling and Sarah Standish, click below:

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