A common tool used by businesses to develop strategy, refine plans, set goals, energize the team, enhance teamwork and cooperation is the offsite, i.e., where a group in the business goes “off site” to meet as a team for one or several days in a remote location. Some offsites can be elaborate affairs involving hundreds of people at a 5-star resort with “name” guest speakers and entertainment. Others are small – just a conference room at a local hotel with a handful of executives and some white boards. Successful offsites of any size have one thing in common: they require a lot of planning to pull off.
While the business side of the house uses the “offsite” tool frequently, many legal departments do not. This might be because of budget constraints, logistical issues (i.e., all the lawyers are gone?!), or just lack of a good reason to host one. None of these are a good excuse for not hosting a legal department offsite on a regular basis, i.e., every year or every other year. A legal department offsite is a valuable tool and if utilized correctly can bring big benefits to the department and the company. I have planned several legal department offsites and, for the most part, they were very successful – though there were things I would “do differently” at the next opportunity. This edition of “Ten Things” discusses how to plan and host a successful legal department offsite: