Your legal team is an increasingly important part of the company’s corporate function and strategy. More than ever before, companies acknowledge the value of including the litigation team in strategic decisions that impact the entire business. However, it is not always clear where the litigation team is headed, and the litigation department’s mission does not always align perfectly with the larger corporate strategy. Below are some steps that can help chief litigation officers ensure that their strategy is clear to the team and fits neatly with the company’s broader vision.
At the beginning stages of a company, each department has a clear path to help the business achieve its goal. But over time, particularly as companies grow, departmental missions can diverge. As a result, it is important to take an opportunity periodically to clarify what your department is trying to accomplish. Until you have a sense of where your department is headed, it will be hard to ensure that you and your team are rowing in the same direction as the business. Take the time to assess where the department has succeeded and failed over time, and discuss with the team how the litigation function can improve. By providing a vision for the team, you will likely see greater engagement by your employees, as well as better results.
Take the time to assess where the department has succeeded and failed over time, and discuss with the team how the litigation function can improve.
A litigation team does not operate in a vacuum. Rather, the team’s work typically ties directly and materially to the overall performance of the company. As a result, the Chief Litigation Officer should make sure that the vision and mission of the litigation department aligns with the company’s evolving goals and priorities. Just as the litigation team’s direction may change naturally over time, so might the company’s. By taking time periodically to assess any divergence of missions, the Chief Litigation Officer can fine-tune the department’s mission, so that the litigation team is doing the best it can to meet the needs of the business.
By taking time periodically to assess any divergence of missions, the Chief Litigation Officer can fine-tune the department’s mission, so that the litigation team is doing the best it can to meet the needs of the business.
Once the team’s vision is updated and clear, be sure to communicate the vision to current and prospective outside counsel. Given the importance of outside counsel to most litigation teams, chief litigators have much to gain from ensuring that outside counsel understand the litigation team’s mission and expectations. With a clear sense of precisely what the litigation team hopes to achieve, outside counsel can be much more effective. And by the same token, if outside counsel demonstrate indifference to your mission or an inability to help achieve it, you may need to change providers to achieve your objectives.
With a clear sense of precisely what the litigation team hopes to achieve, outside counsel can be much more effective.
As a final step in pursuing its mission, the litigation team should establish and evaluate performance against metrics that tie directly to the departmental mission. Consider putting metrics in place at the beginning of the year that stem from the team’s mission, and develop mid-year and year-end reports to determine whether the team is drifting from the mission and to hold the team accountable. If the team is no longer operating on a path toward the designated mission, examine whether the metrics are achievable, whether the team is just underperforming, or whether the mission calls for different metrics altogether.
A successful litigation team must have a mission that is clear to those involved in the team’s work, and which aligns with the goals and strategies of the company as a whole. By creating and communicating the right mission for the litigation team, chief litigation officers can give themselves and their teams an opportunity to do their best for the business.