The importance of context: advice for General Counsels

Every organisation is different. Therefore, it is best to avoid the generalisation that working ‘in-house’ is the same wherever you go.

Understanding the wider business context of your company could help steer company growth in the right direction.

The demand for in-house teams to provide more for less is more apparent than ever before. It is not only law firms who are adapting the way they provide solutions. GCs are equally embracing and exploring new technologies and providers to ensure they stay at the forefront of industry changes.

But what does context mean? It can be a variety of things:

  1. Consumer needs: What are the wants of your consumers?
  2. Competition: What are your competitors doing?
  3. Brand Image: Corporate Responsibility; ethical sourcing etc.
  4. Product: Ensuring you are always producing the best product/service.

Part of it is simply understanding your company’s opportunities and threats.

Ensuring that you are on top of any market trends affecting points 1-4 will hugely benefit how you run your in-house team.

Culture is important and can be one of the most distinguishing features of  your company. Take the most obvious example – John Lewis: All 76,500 of John Lewis’s permanent staff are partners and they collectively own the company’s 35 department stores and 272 Waitrose supermarkets.

That is an extreme example. It can simply be how the in-house team fits in with the overreaching company. Is it fully integrated? Or does it have a very specific role?

It is best for General Counsels to first get to grips with the defining features of the team. From there, it will become much easier to implement industry-relevant changes in a more organic way.




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