Showing the value of a legal department can be accomplished in various ways. One way that may be overlooked is to do what the company wants. If the company wants process maps, use Visio for lots of boxes, triangles, and arrows. If Six Sigma is the initiative of the moment, collect black belts. When HR changes the evaluation process, fill out the forms. In other words, playing well in the sandbox helps legal departments be seen as cooperative, good corporate citizens.
Too often, lawyers think they are a breed apart or above. “We are lawyers so we don’t need to comply with the corporate expense policy.” That attitude creates a perception of trouble-makers and malcontents who diminish value. Instead, pick your fights and mostly do what the company wants on travel policies and high potentials. Take part in the leadership development programs. Show value by linking arms, not arm wrestling.