inpracticeWith power shifting from outside counsel to general counsel, GC are now well positioned to lead their teams forward to refine global operations

According to a recent white paper put out by Mitratech, a leading provider of enterprise legal management solutions, globalization is putting pressure on corporate legal departments to alter their practices.

The paper, “General Counsel: The Global Corporations’s Next Agent of Change”, reports that with power shifting from outside counsel to the general counsel, GCs are now well positioned to lead their teams forward to refine their global operations and truly become best-run departments within the organization.

Legal departments that do not undertake change management initiatives to address increasing global needs, including enhanced collaboration between global legal units, better management of legal global spend and formal creation of business processes across the global legal organization, create risk for their business, the paper states.

The authors relied on interviews with legal industry experts across the globe and detailed case studies from world-class legal departments at AON, HP, and AIG.

The authors say this calls for a shift in perspective and processes and the adoption of tools to facilitate operating in a way that fits global enterprise.

For example, Stacy Coote, AIG’s Director of Legal Operations in EMEA and APAC, said in the paper: “For AIG, rolling out legal tools and processes on a global scale is a massive change management program.” The two key change management initiatives were managing global spend and business process and collaboration.

According to Sonya Bland, Director of Technology Solutions for HP’s Global Legal Department, one area that created an impetus for change was that very little global matter information was being tracked in their systems outside the United States, especially when budgeting for litigation and other matters.

Challenges cited included getting local countries on board as well as language problems, she said. “By planning for and rolling out a global budgeting process, records of every matter, budget and invoices are stored within the centralized TeamConect system, which now affords HP the luxury of pin-pointing exactly where their global legal budget exists.”

Bland added that, “the combination of currency, tax and processing of non-U.S. invoices, the ability to collect and process invoices submitted in a non U.S. currency, as well as displaying the invoices in a preferred currency for review and tracking processes will very likely be an important requirement for success.”

On the business process and collaboration front, AON’s general counsel embarked on a global business process standardization initiative across the entire legal team in order to gain the full visibility needed to be a best-run legal department.

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