Change Management on Legal Department

Blogs April 16, 2014

We were lucky at Fondia to get about twenty respected general counsels around the table to talk about the change in business and on their unit. As we know the change is permanent; the technology changes, business changes, customer behavior changes and there are constant restructuring going on in the business environment and in the companies. We had three speakers in the event who shared the change in their company and how they as lawyers and their team had survived the change.

One of the speakers came from media business. Media business is experiencing great change and therefore also in-house lawyers in such business need to think how to survive the change. It was very impressive to hear that a major media company needed not to have any layoff on the legal department after they had gone through a big change program. There was a need to change the lawyers' mindset, to start to learn new competences, to be open and work together as a team.

General counsel in a gaming company, which was bought by another bigger corporation with own legal department, could keep her position and even hire a younger colleague after having thought over the legal strategy. The management had understood the need of own lawyers after the presentation of the strategy. One of the speakers had experienced a constant change in a huge international corporation for fourteen years. The change was an everyday experience for her. The medicine for lawyers was to work as a team and openly talk about what the change means for them and their work.

When listening the presentations, I realized that I had also been in the middle of the change all the time. I had been working as a general counsel with more than twenty lawyers on mobile telecommunication business when it was booming on 1990'sto 2000's. The business turned down and company was bought by another telecom operator and an independent listed company was turned to 100 % subsidiary. Of course it affected a lot to my and team's work. Few years after that, I found myself in a small listed company, where I was selling its major businesses with the management. Finally I ended up in an innovative start-up legal service provider, Fondia, which was growing fast.

The change in business is constant which means that as lawyers we should not event think about change resistance in order to be able to survive. We need to be passionate of the change to succeed! We have to find ways to best adapt to the change. One of the best ways is to be a forerunner; to see where the business is going and be prepared to change. The general counsel should be in the management team of the company in order to be able to know the direction. The knowledge of the forthcoming changes gives the general counsel tools to constantly monitor the competences of the team and how to develop and be prepared.