At the start of this summer, the consultancy of Barend Blondé and Antoine Henry de Frahan asked in-house counsel in Belgium to select their top three management priorities out of a list of ten options. Here are the six priorities that received the most votes as stated in their article.
1. Improving internal client service 68%
2. Improving leadership, communication and counseling skills of the team 40%
3. Improving the image and profile of the legal department within the company 34%
4. Organizing and structuring the compliance function 32%
5. Improving efficiency through information technology 27%
6. Finding the right mix between centralization and decentralization of the legal department 22%
These priorities are undoubtedly vital to US general counsel, but a few deserve a gloss. Cost is not mentioned in this group and it is not common for US general counsel to be concerned about the balance between lawyers reporting to them and reporting to business executives. I also do not think that marketing the law department – if that is the essence of “improving the image and profile of the legal department” – ranks nearly so high. Finally, some companies have very small scale compliance activities, so concentration on it would not rank fourth on their list of concerns. Talent management might also be higher.