Welcome to part 2 of Tony Donofrio’s takeaways from his sessions at Legalweek. (You can view part 1 here.)
From the “Department of No” to the “Department of Go”
By Tony Donofrio
In a seminar on key performance indicators in the corporate counsel setting at Legalweek, I was struck by the emphasis placed on enabling the business relative to the usual straight-ahead outcomes and efficiency metrics (such as percent revenue spent and percent recovery).
The metrics in that vein repeatedly cropping up were:
- Alignment – This took the form of the question “How closely is legal work being prioritized with the key initiatives and focus of the business?”
- Engagement – Interestingly, this came out most tellingly in “How easy is it for staff to ask for assistance and get assistance from the legal department?” In the negative, it’s kind of like, “If I have to explain all this context stuff to you, why do I really need in-house counsel?!”
- Risk Tolerance – This was the most common one among the participants, manifesting as “Can you assess business risk in a balanced (benefit/impact/likelihood analysis) versus a binary (good/bad) way?” The ability to define and tolerate acceptable risk is heavily under girded by the other enabling metrics and ultimately what most of the stakeholders value most as a quality of their legal team.
Of course, bringing everything back to me and my particular problems, I could not help but directly draw an analogy to the work that a legal solutions company provides to its clients. I’m now asking how we can assist our corporate counsel clients in terms of the data we can provide in the course of delivering our services that helps them stay engaged, create alignment and effectively manage risk.
I’d say those are questions all providers should be asking themselves.
Doing Well by Doing Good
By Tony Donofrio
My cynicism was laid bare when I found myself surprised to encounter more than a few legal operations leaders at Legalweek talking about measuring their firms against things like the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and vying for prizes like “World’s Most Ethical Companies.”
Noting that I’m the CAO (chief annoyance officer) as the progenitor of both the “go-green-printer” and “no-plastic-on-premises” policies at my firm, I was still surprised at our clients’ consistent and serious focus on doing the right thing socially and ecologically. I suppose I’m no longer holier-than-thou.
The better news – beyond realizing that I had been a snob and totally recommitting to work on that – is that there are real efforts undergirding those certification chases. I saw the implementation of sustainability measures that not only raised awareness but had meaningful net carbon reduction results. I also did not hear about “compliance” as much as I heard about creating a culture of ethical behavior; with one firm actually implementing some of the practices offered by Dov Seidman in his seminal work “How.” The kicker is that the folks talking about this were from some of the most productive and high-performing firms and corporations in the world. It’s something to bear in mind when that cynicism creeps up on you.