2021 GC Survey Report on In-House Legal Department Values
How legal department mission statements aligned with company goals & objectives can mitigate the impact of the great resignation.
This report covers:
- Value-based general counsel (VBGCs) and their role as the conscience of the company
- How legal department values and business goals affect partner and firm selection
- The prevalence and importance of an in-house legal department mission statement
- Legal department mission statement focus areas and priorities
- How VBGCs manage up and down within the organization, and affect change with outside counsel
- A spotlight on in-house counsel mental health during the pandemic
- A five-step checklist to help GCs proactively build a meaningful and enduring legal department mission statement
The Value of an In-House Legal Department Mission Statement
How can general counsels be proactive in formalizing their values? Legal leaders should create written mission statements aligning with company and departmental goals. These mission statements provide clarity during times of uncertainty, keeping values top-of-mind during unanticipated challenges to the organization and its corporate objectives. A mission statement articulates the legal team's values and reaffirms in-house counsel's commitment to their roles.
As GCs remain steadfast as the conscience of the enterprise, they are also looking to build a better understanding of the values they seek to uphold, by focusing on their mission and scrutinizing their selection of partners to help achieve their goals. That's why an overwhelming 86% agree having a core set of in-house legal department goals and objectives makes it easier to navigate the challenges impacting the company as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Drive Company Values
Being the conscience of the company is a role GCs take very seriously. The fact that 85% of GCs believe the legal team should be the primary driver of company values is a clear reflection of that responsibility. GCs should build a team that lives company values while providing high quality legal expertise.
Support Core Legal Department Values
While most GCs (90%) believe they give lawyers within their legal department a clear sense of the department's mission, many are not codifying these values into a clear mission statement. A full 40% of GCs admit they lack a legal department mission statement reinforcing their commitment to their values and roles.
The necessity of that mission statement became clearer during the pandemic, when departments were most in need of support, direction, and an articulated purpose: A shocking 75% of GCs without a mission statement say the impact of COVID-19 forced them to prioritize legal spend reduction over core department values - significantly more than peers with mission statements who say the same (58%). Another 75% agree new associated legal risks from the pandemic forced their corporate legal departments to deprioritize initiatives that support core department values - including 82% of GCs without a mission statement. This is significantly more than the 70% of their peers with mission statements who say the same. These findings come at a time when prioritization of corporate legal department values may be more important than ever, as companies try to minimize the impact of "The Great Resignation." Employees in every industry are reassessing their careers and personal lives. Legal work ballooned as COVID increased and unearthed additional legal risk. Lawyer burnout is a key pain point that GCs must create a strategic plan to address in order to continue to attract and retain the best talent.
Instead, GCs with mission statements were more likely to move forward with programs consistent with their functional values: 30% of GCs said the pandemic did not force them to deprioritize initiatives that support their core values - that's a 12-point difference over their peers without mission statements (18%). Now more than ever, the importance of a mission statement has major implications for how legal departments operate during times of uncertainty.
Axiom is an alternative legal services provider and the global leader in high-caliber legal talent. With over 6,500 lawyers spanning North America, UK, Europe, and APAC, we enable corporate legal departments to drive efficiency and growth and to adapt to a demanding new era. Get in contact with Axiom today to learn more about how:
- How Axiom lawyers can help support the legal department without forcing GCs to compromise between risk management and business goals and values
- How Axiom can help GCs build (and then support) effective departmental mission statements
- Axiom's values and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
Download the Full Report & Checklist