Twenty years from now the acronym “GC” might more accurately define the top corporate legal role as a “general contractor” rather than “general counsel.”
It’s an intentionally provocative suggestion Dave Galebenski made on a recent Google Hangout for the Legal Tech Briefs series. However, it’s not without merit: It’s merely a way for Mr. Galbenski to get his clients to think critically about their role in an organization.
GCs have more options at their disposal, he said, for managing legal work than they might have had as they were rising through the ranks. The GC of the future will be responsible for managing all the resources available – the people, tools and technologies – for getting corporate legal work done.
Mr. Galbenski will be the keynote speaker at the LexisNexis® CounselLink® 2014 Annual Customer Conference. He’s a lawyer turned entrepreneur, and is also a frequent speaker who has published two books. He is the founder and executive vice president of Lumen Legal.
The video interview embedded nearby runs just about 11 minutes; a summary (paraphrase) of the interview follows below.
Corporate legal priorities a response to change
Reducing corporate risk has long been a priority for inside counsel, but so too is becoming a strategic business partner and reducing (or maintaining) the corporate legal spend. Mr. Galbenski believes these priorities are responses to globalization and new complexity – which has increased risk and created compliance challenges.
Senior business leaders are increasingly asking the legal department to do more with less – to reduce the risk but accomplish this while being cost conscious. He finds increasingly GCs are focused on creating value and leveraging some of the new business models in legal services such as using alternative legal service providers, engaging in legal process outsourcing (LPO) or even shifting corporate legal work to “large enough” law firms.
Changing the legal mindset
Mr. Galbenski notes that lawyers are trained to look in the “rear view mirror” for answers but it has become more important to look forward. His advice to corporate counsel is to develop a strategy and then work to change the mindset of the corporate legal department. Getting there will require leadership and change management skills, but Mr. Galbenski points out that technology innovation has brought tools and data to drive legal decisions and ultimately better outcome. Where legal decisions in the past were more or less subjective, today there is “hard data” to drive decision making.
- Follow Dave Galbenski on Twitter @davegalbenski or Google+
- Blog: Legal Evolution: a Forum of Forward Thinkers
- Book: Legal Visionaries: How to make their innovations work for you
- Book: UNBOUND: How Entrepreneurship is Dramatically Transforming Legal Services
Photo credit: Flickr via Creative Commons; CC 2.0
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