Strategic Planning for In-House Counsel

The term’ strategic plan’ is thrown around often, but it is sometimes used interchangeably with the term ‘business plan.’ While there are certain similarities between the two, the strategic plan of an in-house department is more than just a document. 

A typical strategic plan will consider several aspects of the business, including the legal department’s role in it. Businesses often include in-house counsels as part of their risk management, litigation, and documentation review strategy. A well-thought-out strategy for the in-house counsel is instrumental in streamlining various processes within the organization.

In-house counsel: what are their specific responsibilities?

In-house counsel provides their organization with relevant advice on various legal matters. There are several roles and responsibilities that come with being an in-house counsel:

  • Providing timely and relevant advice to its employer/organization: Keeping track of legal news, updates, and regulations within its employer’s industry is crucial to the role. This helps the legal counsel provide accurate and relevant advice to its organization on topics relating to its business, products, or services.
  • Legal documentation: The in-house counsel is also responsible for drafting, reviewing, proofreading, and negotiating any contracts, agreements, NDAs, and deals directly communicating with its organization. This helps them assess documents for any risks and legal issues and keep track of all documentation.
  • Ensuring compliance within the organization: Keeping the organization abreast of all laws and regulations that apply to its business is vital for the in-house counsel. This includes promoting best practices of compliance and risk management within the organization.
  • Leading communications with external legal teams: The in-house counsel also manages communications with external legal teams such as external counsels or auditors. This keeps all legal communication in one place and streamlined.

 

Create a culture of preparedness

Having a strategic plan for your organization’s in-house counsel can help create a culture of preparedness. One of the critical steps in the strategic plan is sharing relevant client information. This aids in preparing them for any potential legal issues such as risk management, crisis management, compliance, and product safety of both the organization and its clients.

Additionally, it is advisable to have the in-house legal team review policies and procedures regularly to craft a strategic crisis management plan for any potential risks and issues. This would require the evaluation of existing reviews, training, planning, and business reputation. In such situations, a streamlined legal flow proves helpful with everything available in one place that has quick and easy access.

How to navigate mergers and acquisitions

The legal counsel of an organization should ideally be involved from the beginning of the transaction.

This allows them to understand all dynamics of the deal and navigate their way into getting the best value out of it.

As with any merger or acquisition, gathering and evaluating documentation is vital. There are requirements for auditing any pertinent documents such as outstanding contracts, potential legal liabilities, financial statements, and projections. The in-house legal counsel must gather these documents and go through them for any legal issues before sharing them with the concerned party.

Having a digitization strategy for these documents through Litigation management software can help find and manage these documents with more efficiency. Security is a concern for corporate legal departments when sharing such confidential documents.  Legal departments handle extremely sensitive files, including contracts, real estate holdings, and vital information about company financials and legal disputes.

Ideally, access to sensitive files should be traceable, with the ability to view audit logs of who has accessed files and when. This further allows for clear communication between the buyer and the seller, resulting in a streamlined and smooth deal.

In summary, it is essential to have a well-thought-out strategy for your in-house counsel. Clearly defining their roles and responsibilities and mapping out how they can navigate critical processes helps create a culture of preparedness. Finally, including a digital strategy for the counsel can improve efficiency and increase data security when sharing and reviewing necessary documentation during deals, mergers, and acquisitions.