Virtual Fear and Loathing – Can GCs get law firms to collaborate on tech?

Virtual Fear and Loathing – Can GCs get law firms to collaborate on tech?

Clichés abound over the stereotypical contrast between stuffy lawyers and progressive tech start-up gurus. Clearly law firms – whose liberal and often misplaced use of the term ‘innovation’ often adds fuel to the fire – have plenty of work to do. At the same time, some clients are far more insistent on innovation from their external advisers than others.

To what extent is this true? Are clients really driving a technological shake-out in the procurement of legal services? As Stuart Whittle, business services director at Weightmans, says: ‘The appetite varies massively among clients. Some want a solution on a stick while others are willing to invest time in tech and work with start-ups. They are all doing their own things and they are subjected to all kinds of pressures.’ Continue reading “Virtual Fear and Loathing – Can GCs get law firms to collaborate on tech?”

Gamification – the thoroughly modern way to redesign legal services

Gamification – the thoroughly modern way to redesign legal services

You may not have heard the term ‘gamification’, but the chances are you have experienced a form of it.

Perhaps you’re an executive in a FTSE 500 company with a generous bonus triggered when your performance meets certain conditions. You could be a corporate client, flicking through the ranked lawyers in The Legal 500, preparing to draw up a shortlist for your next deal. In each case, you would be responding to an element of gameplay dynamics, subtly influencing your judgement, or motivating particular choices. Continue reading “Gamification – the thoroughly modern way to redesign legal services”

Trust me, I’m a lawyer… technology and the evolving role of GCs

Trust me, I’m a lawyer… technology and the evolving role of GCs

Academic and Thinkers50 honouree Rachel Botsman is focused on trust. Of late, that focus has looked at how technology has shifted our understanding of trust and impacted on both our personal and professional lives.

In particular, Botsman draws a distinction between ‘trust’ and ‘trustworthiness’. The former is generally thought of as a state of mind engendered by the latter. ‘Trustworthiness’, therefore, can be defined as a set of qualities that inspire trust, and is arguably more measurable, because trust can be influenced by emotional factors. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two, but they do not always follow on from each other; hence we can instinctively trust someone, or feel that someone is trustworthy – without trusting them yet. Continue reading “Trust me, I’m a lawyer… technology and the evolving role of GCs”

Client profile: Daniel Toner, Spire Healthcare

Client profile: Daniel Toner, Spire Healthcare

Daniel Toner had done his research. Before an interview to become head of legal at Bupa Hospitals in 2006, he noticed the company had shifted some of its non-hospital assets to a new division.

At the interview he asked, tongue-in-cheek, whether Bupa was selling its hospitals division. He was told: ‘Absolutely not. That would never happen. They’re central to the Bupa philosophy.’ After getting the job, Toner recalls: ‘On my first day, I was called aside and told, “Right, we’re selling our hospitals division. Sign this NDA.”’ Continue reading “Client profile: Daniel Toner, Spire Healthcare”

It’s a team game at the legal elite but the mix of players is changing

It’s a team game at the legal elite but the mix of players is changing

This year we return to the team format of the GC Powerlist, our flagship annual report chronicling the elite of the UK’s buy-side legal community. This team perspective inevitably takes us closer to state-of-the-legal-industry ruminations than the editions focused on individual excellence.

Glancing at this year’s report, the second team-focused edition after the first in 2015, many long-term shifts in the profession have marched on regardless through the era of New Law and tech-fuelled disruption. Teams at leading companies are still accumulating more resources, skills and infrastructure to expand their empires. General counsel (GCs) at leading bluechips operating heavily in the UK are often fielding teams in the hundreds and have expanded substantially over the last three years, despite more pressure for efficiency. ‘More for less’ is a convenient fiction for GCs, but a ‘lot more work for a moderate increase in budget’ has less of a ring. Continue reading “It’s a team game at the legal elite but the mix of players is changing”

Forming, storming, norming and performing

Forming, storming, norming and performing

What makes a great corporate legal team? It is a question general counsel (GCs) surprisingly often struggle to answer. This lack of familiarity with the stock definitions of management theory should not be interpreted as a sign of operational incompetence, though.

‘The most common attribute any company looks for when hiring a GC is the ability to manage and lead a team,’ says Siobhán Lewington, managing director of legal recruitment boutique Fox Rodney Search. ‘The interview process is designed to highlight those skills and it is all but impossible to become head of a legal department now without an innate flair for teambuilding.’ Continue reading “Forming, storming, norming and performing”