At the recent GC Summit in Sydney, the discussion of leadership and the changing role of GCs continued, particularly focusing on their continued quest to become more relevant to their Board and to demonstrate the value they generate for their organization as strategic decision-makers. In the same week, Professor Richard Susskind was also in Sydney predicting that the evolution of legal services delivery is likely to radically change, or even phase out, the traditional role of the lawyer in the next 15 years. Suffice to say, there’s not a dull moment in the world of legal services right now.
The Transformation of the GC Role
We all know that over the past 20 years the role has totally transformed, as has the caliber of those in the role – not just in Australia; the same is true in most if not all major markets. You’ll probably agree that historically the GC’s role was not seen as powerful or influential. It was considered to be a soft role, easier than private practice, probably doing less hours and almost certainly with less pay.
Clearly this has totally changed with today’s GCs being expected to play a much more strategic role; expected to have financial literacy, to bring the outside world into the organization, to lead innovation initiatives and to be much more proactive. It was widely discussed that the key skills for the GC of the future will include adaptability and the know-how to deal with change. He/she will need to be much more technology savvy and have a holistic view of the role technology can play. They also need to have the appetite and skills to manage data and understand the kind of commercial insights that data can provide to an organization. They are expected to learn a whole bundle of new skills and as Susskind suggests, expected to play the role of legal risk managers, legal project managers, legal process analysts and legal knowledge engineers.
As was suggested at the GC Summit, one could say that GCs are now the ‘rock stars’ of the legal profession. I just hope they’re being paid as such!
From Cost Center to Value Generator
Over the years, I have had the privilege of talking to hundreds of GCs globally and the same question comes up repeatedly: “how can I demonstrate value to my Board?”. So, in an attempt to help answer this question for GCs at the Summit in Sydney, I designed what I thought could be an ideal template for them to use at the monthly meeting with the Board.
Image Copyright: Exigent Group
To my mind these are the types of metrics a CEO and CFO would want to see and I was pleased to see that others agreed. It really hit the spot with the audience to the extent that many were even photographing it! So I felt compelled to share this simple template with my broad GC network around the globe.
The immediate question for those that have seen this has been “how?” “How do I get access to that information?” For most organizations, the legal department just does not have visibility and the means to track the overall health of their contractual performance and obligations. In the past, an organization’s portfolio of contracts has not necessarily been seen as a valuable asset and so has been rather neglected. When a combination of a well formulated contract strategy, experience, expertise and technology are employed, that mountain of static information can be actually turned into a pot of gold.