Month: January 2017

Ten Things: Working from Home – Can it Really Work for In-House Counsel?

More and more employers are affording their employees the ability to work from home or “remotely” as it is sometimes called.  Studies show pretty convincingly that not only does the flexibility to work from home increase employee productivity and morale, it also heightens the company’s ability to attract and retain key talent.  It can also save the company money in terms of reduced office space needs and other costs such as parking, utilities, etc.   While working from home is growing, it is not growing as quickly at in-house legal departments.  A lot of that has to do with one primary concern: “If I cannot see them, how do I know they are really working?”  There are other issues, such as meetings, client interaction, department interaction, and so forth but the number one reason for not making work-from-home (“WFH”) an option for in-house lawyers boils down to trust.

As a former General Counsel I will be first to raise my hand and say that I was very reluctant when we first started allowing our in-house lawyers to work from home up to two days a week.  It just felt “off” to me but I made a decision to put my reservations aside and focus on coming up with a plan that would either work out to the benefit of both the company and the employee, or would prove that WFH wasn’t really for us.  I can report that it absolutely worked out fine for us both in terms of enhanced productivity and in terms of having a materially different “benefit” that made working in our legal department even more attractive, especially with respect to keeping existing talent and attracting new talent.  That’s not to say that it was without bumps, we had them.  And for some folks we needed to alter or revoke the privilege as it just didn’t work out in those cases.  This edition of Ten Things tackles the question of whether work from home can work for your legal department and the things you need to do to ensure that any WFH policy works for everyone.  While I am focusing on WFH, these same rules apply generally for managers and employees working a remote offices, i.e., offices away from headquarters.

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Ten Things: Succession Planning for In-House Legal Departments

I want to discuss a topic of growing importance to in-house legal departments around the globe: succession planning.  It’s no secret that the population is getting older and the “Baby Boom” generation is starting to retire.  While a number of companies are working hard to put formal succession plans into place, there are many that are behind the curve.  Moreover, most company plans tend to focus on succession of the CEO or CFO.  Other key C-Suite positions are not receiving the same level of attention, or any attention at all.  In particular, the succession of the General Counsel is often relegated to “also-ran” status.  And within the legal department itself, there is usually little to no formal planning going on around succession management for senior or other key roles.  This lack of planning can lead to big problems down the road.

I have been working with Thomson Reuters on a free three-part webinar series that focuses on succession planning for in-house legal departments.  We are hosting the second webinar on Wednesday January 25, 2017 at noon Central time. You can register for free by clicking here.  You can watch the recorded Part I and read the three detailed articles I wrote by clicking here.

This failure to plan arises from two things: 1) succession planning is a low priority for the legal department given everything else going on; and 2) it’s hard to get started and it can seem overwhelming – meaning an early onset of “planning paralysis.”  Neither of these is a valid reason to fail to properly plan for succession within the Department.   The good news is that it’s never too late to get started and you can participate in the process regardless of your position in the Department.  Succession planning can be broken down into three parts: 1) evaluation of succession needs; 2) development of succession talent; and 3) putting a succession plan into place.  There a lot to cover, so grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable as this edition of “Ten Things” will take you through the steps needed to create a succession management plan:

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