Ask clients about the perceived value of the legal department, not the head of legal

A recent survey asked general counsel of UK companies how well their law department is valued by their company. One choice, the most favorable, was “The legal department is recognised as a valuable part of the organization.” Of the 124 respondents, 29 percent strongly agreed and 60 percent agreed; only 8 percent disagreed and 3 percent strongly disagreed. For three other statements, the percentages were favorable but dropped off. One was about the department as “strategic partner,” one about the department being “as integrated as I would like with other parts of the organization,” and one about prompt engagement of the department by clients.

The point I want to make is that only clients can say whether the legal department is perceived as a valued group. Heads of legal can’t possibly be objective. All of us over-rate our value or our team’s value.

If the question had been “Do you think clients throughout the organization [not just senior executives who get red-carpet service] would recognize the legal department as valuable” you might move a little closer to the truth.

Winmark, through its CLO Programme membership, obtained this data a year ago from 124 UK general counsel. The 27-page report is available through John Jeffcock.

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