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Working well with other functions in your organisation

Some of the functions in your organisation will be more obvious ‘clients’ / users of the legal team e.g. Sales, Procurement. Others such as Finance and HR tend to have a more complex relationship with the legal team, potentially as less frequent clients, as peers in supporting the organisation and as the guardians of certain policies and processes.

Whilst the obvious clients are likely to consume much of the legal resource, it is well worth investing effort in developing the relationship with all functions.

The starting point is to clarify the expectation of support or service provision.

Business activities to support

Anticipated reactive effort within Legal team (% lawyer year)

Anticipated proactive effort within Legal team (% lawyer year)

Anticipated cost

Actual cost

Some HR functions take the view that they prefer to use external employment specialists, selected and instructed without involvement of the legal team. If you are faced with this, then you should consider the approach we covered in the webinar Orchestrating relationships between external advisers and your business colleagues.

Business activities to support

External service provider

Anticipated external spend

Actual external spend

Employment law is one of the most demanding to cover and is best dealt with by one or more dedicated specialists rather than well-intentioned dabbling by generalists. If there is insufficient volume to justify hiring a specialist, it is preferable to rely on external support.

The next step is to ensure that you have a good understanding of how the other function expects the legal team to conduct itself. In the case of Finance, this can range from competent budget management to bringing to their attention something of concern. The latter raises issues of the relationship you have with the part of the organisation which has given rise to that concern and how you manage to avoid getting into an allegiance quagmire.

Making sure that you can meet those expectations helps you to explore the areas of ‘sister’ common interest:

  • Relationships with other parts of the organisation
  • Challenges faced by the organisation
  • Stakeholder management
  • Compliance risks

Using invitations to team meetings can be an effective way of doing this.

Finally you can work with them to get the support you need for the legal business plan, in particular resources, and for the training and development from which members of the team would benefit.  So in the case of Finance, you might be able to persuade them to deliver these modules:

  • Accounting treatment of deals done and exposures
  • Analysis for decision making
  • Financial implications of project acceleration or delay

The fact this training is being undertaken would also feature in the discussions with HR.

We will be covering this subject in more detail in the webinar to be held later this month