setting goals

Ten Things: A 2016 “To Do” List for In-House Counsel

[Note – this edition of “Ten Things” is a reprint of my first article for Thomson Reuter’s “Corporate Counsel Connect” e-magazine.  Starting in January 2016, I agreed to write a monthly column called “The Insider” directed at in-house counsel.  Reprinted with permission of Thomson Reuters]

I was in-house counsel for over 20 years.  One of the hardest tasks I recall was the yearly process of “setting of goals” for the Legal Department, both as a member of the department and as general counsel for two companies.   To me, it feels like there is something inherently difficult about setting Legal Department goals when probably 75% of what the team will work on in the upcoming year is still unknown and won’t really be knowable until it appears on their plate.

Despite these limitations, it is possible to create a useful and measureable set of goals for Legal.  This edition of “Ten Things” sets out a “To Do” list that you can adopt in full or in part as part of your 2016 goal planning (for yourself, for your team, or for the department).  These are all tasks that need to be done, pretty much regardless of the size of your company or the number of attorneys in your Legal Department.  Moreover, they are designed with the CEO and other C-Suite executives in mind so that they can see how the Legal Department is proactively scoping risk to the company and its various lines of business and (more importantly) taking steps to deal with those risks. 

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