The legal team at a company is a unique group of professionals responsible for helping the company navigate through any legal matters. They play an integral role in the success of their organization, but that doesn’t mean they’re invincible.
In-house counsels often find themselves tasked with handling significant assignments that require more time than they have. Managing these projects can be tricky, but there are some strategies you can use to help your team tackle these challenges.
Here are tips for helping the in-house legal team tackle major assignments.
1. Listen to Your Counsel
In-house legal teams are a vital resource, and a forward-thinking manager will learn how to get the most out of their experience. The manager should always be open to their team members’ suggestions for effective project management.
Good in-house legal professionals have been working on similar projects for years, and they can offer a lot of insight into what works and what doesn’t.
2. Distribute Tasks Strategically
If you’re assigning too many tasks to your legal team, consider delegating some of them to other members of the company who have the time and skillsets for completing the tasks. Other company members may not have the experience your legal team does, but it’s important to remember they’re still professionals who can contribute something valuable to an initiative.
3. Know When You Need Outside Help
There are plenty of times when hiring outside professionals is the right way to go. If you need specific expertise, or if the matter is outside your legal team’s capabilities, it can make sense to bring a secondee lawyer or two onboard in order to handle the increased workload. Just be sure that you’re counting on an expert with experience with matters like yours.
An attorney specializing in small-business law probably won’t have the skills required to resolve a significant intellectual property dispute.
4. Consider the Pace of Your Team
It’s essential to consider your team’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as their energy levels, when assigning tasks. You don’t want to overload a member of your legal team who is already overworked, even if they have the time available to take on an assignment.
It’s not worth the risk of burning out your team members who are already overworked, so consider more appropriate assignments for those individuals until they’ve had a chance to recuperate some of their energy and experience.
5. Keep Quality Standards High
All members of your legal team play an important part in the success of your organization, so you should always strive to maintain high-quality standards. If one person can’t handle an assignment alone, consider bringing in members of their team who have complementary skill sets to assist.
Your legal team is a valuable resource that shouldn’t be wasted on subpar work or forcing them to work longer hours than they should.
6. Manage Expectations
Improving your in-house legal team’s workflow is a great way to make them more efficient and effective. However, it doesn’t mean they can accomplish everything you want overnight.
It takes time and trial and error for any team member to become more comfortable with their tasks. Their workflow will likely improve as they become more familiar with their assignments and understand the demands on your team members.
7. Keep Legal Team Informed
In-house legal professionals may have been able to handle a specific assignment in the past without much instruction from their manager. However, that doesn’t mean they’re prepared to do the same for more complex tasks.
It’s important to keep your legal team in the loop when assigning new challenges, so they understand the expectations of every assignment you give them.
8. Provide Tools Your Team Needs
Staff members need the right tools for the job, whether it’s specific software or other products. Let your team know what they need to do their jobs well, and help them find the resources. New hires should have all the information they need to get started with their tasks.
Ongoing staff members should be given access to any additional resources they might require.
As a general note, remember that you cannot delegate every task to members of your legal team. In-house legal professionals don’t usually have the expertise needed for complex projects like patent litigation or trademark infringement disputes.
Some tasks require an extensive amount of education and experience, so consider bringing in outside attorneys when it makes sense to do so.