At our recent In-House Legal Operations Masterclass, one of Australia's leading fintech entrepreneurs and CEOs said a key attribute of successful entrepreneurs is their ability to "get sh*t done". 

... but this isn't a problem for most in-house lawyers. The problem is that we're too nice and we deal with other's problems too much. We don't get to spend enough time making our work lives easier. 

Well, January's the obvious time to do the bare minimum of client work. It's the time to work differently, to think, to get something proactive, "strategic" and scaleable done. 

Here are 10 ideas for your team for January ... 

  1. Streamline the organisation's approval and execution process. This is low hanging fruit and hardly any legal teams have it perfected. 
  2. Simplify your precedents and templates. This is also low hanging fruit that will save hundreds of hours a year. Making them short, fair and simple isn't easy. This isn't a job for law firm lawyers - they don't know your organisation like an in-house lawyer does. 
  3. Figure out how you can save the organisation time so it can sell what it sells faster. This cashflow argument is a winner that your CEO and CFO will love. But the answer is not working more!
  4. Write a Business Plan for Legal. One page with SMART goals. If the internal clients saw it, they'd be happy. Don't have aspirational waffle with no defined targets.
  5. Make a list of work that your team shouldn't do. Be ready to speak to those internal clients in February about why your team won't do it anymore. But ... you must have a  proposed solution for their ongoing support (eg, a self-help/self-serve solution). 
  6. Figure out 3 ways to reduce total legal spend as a % of revenue. 
  7. Make a list of higher value work that's now getting outsourced and figure out a business case to do that work instead. 
  8. Figure out what data your team needs to track performance and improve. 
  9. Figure out what activities and docs should be automated. If your team spends 100+ hours/year on it, the economics for automation stack up. 
  10. Document how (and why) your key work types are done. This enables predictable outcomes for your clients and helps new lawyers in your team. "This is the organisation's position on risk .... Your personal opinion is lovely, but save it for another day." 

Want help?

If you want an independent, best-practice opinion, or if you want bench-marking data on what comparable teams do, let us know and get in contact. We love doing this stuff - it is our passion and we reckon that we're pretty good at it! 

Lastly, if you need to use budget before year's end, use it on something proactive like setting your team on the right path for 2018 and the next 3-5 years.