In-house teams should send lawyers on ‘reverse secondments’ to keep them motivated

Rotating lawyers and seconding them to law firms will ensure they are more ‘well-rounded’ – meanwhile, general counsel must ‘embrace diversity’

Heads of in-house legal departments should explore new, more innovative ways of keeping their teams motivated, attendees at the Iberian Lawyer Law2Biz Forum in Madrid heard.IBL81 p11 photo2In order to get the most out of in-house teams, it is important to explore “alternative methods of motivation”, participants said. Such methods may include “reverse secondments”, where in-house lawyers spend time working with a law firm, or rotating members of the team, so they get to experience a wider range of work. This would help to make in-house lawyers better motivated, as well as making them more “well-rounded”, participants said. One attendee remarked: “If lawyers are assigned to a narrow area of expertise, the risk is that they get bored – ‘cross-company’ lawyers may feel like they are in the back office and do not get credit.”

Millennials ‘speak up’
Younger in-house lawyers are generally more inclined to voice their opinions and express their needs, and this can help from a management perspective. “Millennials speak up more and this helps,” said one attendee at the event, which was held in the Madrid offices of DLA Piper.
It is also important that in-house lawyers work to “project their department internally” within their organisation
Participants agreed that it was important to “enhance collaboration with the business both ways by, for example, involving the business in the development of protocols and translating legal work into business language”. However, it is vital that the legal department is fully independent from the rest of the organisation. “It is important the legal department manages itself, it needs independence to add value,” one attendee said.

IBL81 p11 photo3Trust is essential
Transparency is another important attribute in-house legal departments should have, participants were told. “You need to be present, and share information,” attendees heard. If members of an in-house team perceive that they are adding value, they will be more motivated, one participant said. In order to get the best out of in-house legal teams, it is important to treat every member of the team as an individual, attendees heard. “Trust is essential and in-house legal departments must embrace diversity,” participants were told.

IBL81 p11 box

Laura Escarpa