In-house leaders in today’s world are navigating an era of unprecedented change.
Our clients’ businesses span the globe. They operate across a range of sectors, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Over and over again, however, we see the same themes.
Globalisation, the power of data, increasingly complex legal and regulatory frameworks, transformational technologies and the urgency around ESG are placing enormous pressures on business.
So too is the increased focus on how they do business. The ends no longer justify the means. Driving value for stakeholders and shareholders remains important but it’s not the only goal and how it is achieved is taking on increasing importance. Organisations around the world are embracing a wider understanding of the essential role they can and must play if business is to retain its social contract. Businesses are also facing significant reputation risk if they get it wrong.
Transition, of course, often brings opportunity; however driving change is a contact sport.
That is why, this year, we wanted to work with Legal Business magazine to recognise and celebrate those who are thriving amid that challenge.
As a celebrated US general once said, ‘if you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less’. Those in this year’s GC Powerlist are testament to the ability of lawyers to adapt and thrive in times of change, and so ensure that the role of corporate counsel remains relevant in the boardrooms and the communities that those businesses serve.
What are the common traits of those driving change in the market? Typically the changemakers we work with understand the wider ecosystem that is growing up around legal services, and the strategic use of different types of provider available in the ever-expanding market. In particular, they have grasped that there is no longer a ‘one-size-fits-all’ labour model, and that more flexible access to legal expertise can drive greater efficiency – and value.
They are tech savvy, and not impressed with gimmicks. They understand the huge opportunities available when streamlined processes are embedded through the effective use of technology, and how to turn the data that follows into valuable insight and actionable management information. What’s more, they appreciate that by making more routine tasks more systematic, they enable in-house legal to trade-up to a higher class of problem.
Perhaps most importantly, they are collaborators.
They are adopting technology platforms aimed at improving collaboration, developing more open working environments, and using working models such as agile project management to build continuous improvement into their way of working. But more fundamentally, they recognise that resolving the ever-more complex challenges facing today’s corporates often requires a wider range of skillsets and professional expertise.
Adjacent skillsets can complement and catalyse legal expertise. So, we are seeing project managers, analysts and technologists playing a much more prominent role in delivering major transformational projects and supporting client relationships – freeing up the lawyers to focus on the elements in which they really excel and drive value.
This move towards a new era for corporate counsel in the 2020s is why Pinsent Masons itself is changing as we look to transform from an expertise-based law firm to a purpose-led professional services business, with law at the core.
People and technologies that extend beyond pure legal expertise now make a significant financial contribution to our business, demonstrating the shift taking place within our market.
And while the revenues are significant, they are no more important than the first part of that sentence: we are purpose-led.
To understand and articulate our purpose, we undertook a major consultation with the c.450 partners and 3,600 Pinsent Masons colleagues across Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East to understand why they believe we exist as an organisation. The clear message from our people was that, on our best day, our business is about change and progress. That we are at our best when we enable everyone and that, ultimately, we exist to make business work better for people.
So when you work with a Pinsent Masons team, you will find a group of people who understand not only what they are doing, but why they are doing it. A team that recognises our clients have commercial challenges to address and strategic opportunities to realise – they don’t have legal problems. A team that understands true success is best delivered through collaboration and a focus upon business outcomes.
I hope you enjoy reading this year’s GC Powerlist, and on behalf of everyone at Pinsent Masons, my congratulations to those who have demonstrated that lawyers are at their best when they are at their boldest.
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