Time for the Navigator

Become a strategic navigator

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Bruce Macmillan

Brexit presents a unique opportunity for in-house lawyers. As organisations grapple with the political, economic, legal, regulatory and commercial fallout from Brexit, their need for strategic navigators has never been greater.

Even in times of certainty, businesses rely heavily on their in-house legal teams for support and advice on a range of strategic issues.

Being current on relevant law is essential but it’s not enough on its own.

So, in times of substantial and enduring political, economic, legal, regulatory and commercial uncertainty, this need will be more acute than ever.

Brexit creates this need. And you, as an in-house lawyer, can provide the solution. You can be your organisation’s ‘strategic navigator.’

This means helping your CEO and senior management plot the best, or the least worst, route through the uncertainty that the UK’s exit from the EU presents. And it means continually replotting that route as the journey continues.

Much of what Brexit will change is legislative or regulatory in nature. It will affect:

  • Your organisation;
  • Your employees;
  • Your customers;
  • Your suppliers; and
  • Regulators and government bodies who affect yours, your suppliers’ and your customers’ business practices.

All this puts a premium on being organised, efficient and effective. You’ll need to have:

  • The necessary legal, regulatory and contractual knowledge at your fingertips;
  • The business acumen to know how and when this knowledge will affect the organisation; and
  • The communication skills to advise the right people at the right time.

You’ll also need to be good at managing your relationships with your team, people seconded to you - however temporarily - and any external counsel. In short, you need to be more than that outdated caricature of the reactive rubber-stamper legal function (a perception that we all know should be consigned to the last century, anyway).

The great opportunity for strategic GCs

Many organisations build current, one year, three year and, sometimes, longer-term strategies and plans. Most make long-term commercial commitments to customers, suppliers and landlords. For employees, they offer incentive plans and pensions for longer periods still.

And now, many of these commitments have suddenly become big business risks.

Rarely then, has the legal role been so pivotal to the future success of so many organisations.

That’s why General Counsels with strong legal teams have a huge opportunity to take the helm and lead the way. As a pivotal member of the organisation’s strategic and operational management team, you can help:

  • Calibrate and recalibrate its risk appetite;
  • Identify new business opportunities;
  • Spot and prepare for challenges and threats to the business strategy and plans; and
  • Implement retrenchment plans.

Become that strategic navigator! 

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