The Legalops Café is an online meetup hosted by Tabled for legal operations professionals looking to network and share insights.
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On 16 June 2022, we hosted a lively and engaging session which took ‘legal project management’ as it’s jumping-off point. Here are the key takeaways:
The human element
Our guest speaker, Meera Ferguson, kicked off the discussion by sharing experience and insights gained during her time as Deputy GC at Adecco and most recently as Operations Director and GC at Accutrainee.
For Meera, the most important thing to remember was that – whatever project management tools and methods you use – you’re dealing with other humans.
For your project to succeed, you will need buy-in and input from multiple stakeholders – not just in legal – and your approach must help you achieve that.
For Jeremy Hopkins of Contentsquare, a key element in achieving that support and buy-in is to act with what he called ‘organisational empathy’. Change needs to be presented and implemented in a way that demonstrates an appreciation of the impact on others; how that impact can be mitigated; and what the benefits/ROI will be for those impacted.
Richard Hamilton (Compusoft) shared a very interesting (and potentially counterintuitive?) take on securing buy-in.
He has found that – rather than seeking to involve a broad pool of stakeholders during the initial stages – sticking to a handful of ‘champions’ and actively excluding other stakeholders for a period typically generates intrigue and prompts those other stakeholders to seek involvement of their own accord.
Identifying and managing opportunities for change
For Aleksandra Wawrzyszczuk of MBNL, a crucial factor for the success of any significant project is ensuring that a robust change management plan is in place to coordinate the more global aspects of any legalops project.
However, it’s not all about large or complex projects. An approach that has worked for Jeremy Hopkins has been creating a Slack channel where stakeholders can suggest ideas or flag issues they have encountered when dealing with the legal team on an ad hoc basis.
The aim is then to action or solve as many of these as possible, as quickly as possible. Over time, these smaller but consistent (and documented) wins can have a compounding effect and add up to substantial positive change that is felt across the organisation.
The ‘Golden Path’ / “Start to Stop”
Another topic that came up was around the importance of identifying which projects – and indeed what work generally – the legal team should be involved with in the first place.
The idea that legal is often ‘looped into’ matters that shouldn’t really involve them – sometimes as a security/comfort measure – other times because legal becomes a gravity centre for things that don’t appear to have a home elsewhere – was something several attendees had experienced in their own organisations.
At Compusoft Group, Richard Hamilton has been working to introduce a ‘golden path’ principle which sets out the conditions in which a given matter should proceed to completion without legal being involved at all.
Similarly, Tori Corser-Sproson and her team at BUPA have been addressing this as part of a business-wide “start to stop” exercise, with the aim of identifying matters and tasks that legal could no longer be involved with.
Thanks & Acknowledgments
Thanks to Meera Ferguson for being our guest speaker; to Jeremy Hopkins, Richard Hamilton, Aleksandra Wawrzyszczuk and Tori Corser-Sproson for allowing us to quote them in this article and to everyone else who attended for a lively and engaging session.
Continue the conversation
Discussions around how to effectively triage, prioritise and manage legal work and projects are of course close to our hearts at Tabled and if you are interested in these topics you might also enjoy our blog posts on the Legal Front Door, Matter Management and how to become a more data-driven legal team.