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legal team best practices
8 min read

Best Practices for a Legal Team of One: Part 2

Welcome back to the two-part blog series on how to thrive as a legal team of one. It’s a challenging task. Legal can be seen as the team of “no” if you aren’t intentional about adding value and building internal allies. Don’t worry; we’re here with your roadmap.

If you missed part one, check it out here. All caught up? Let’s dive into the final three focus areas.

Leverage Technology

One-person legal teams are often overwhelmed with manual work. While you may not be able to hire another attorney today, the right contract lifecycle management (CLM) software is the superpower you need. Before modern CLM solutions, tasks like drafting, finalizing, analyzing, and monitoring agreements consumed full days.

By leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), the software can read and understand contracts. Automation also allows legal teams to collaborate better. The typical flurry of emails sending contract drafts and approvals is eliminated with a good CLM suite.

CLM solutions also extend organizational capacity. “One person legal teams cannot afford documentation and access scattered throughout the company,” shares LinkSquares Chief Legal Officer, Tim Parilla.

CLM platforms provide a contract repository for all stored, accessed, or shared contracts. This is particularly helpful in light of remote and hybrid work. CLM solutions allow legal teams to operate more efficiently, and by automating tedious tasks, lawyers unlock more time to focus on strategic work instead of tracking down contracts.

Tim’s Advice: “To benefit from automation as quickly as possible, evaluate solutions based on their time-to-value. As an early adopter of legal tech at DraftKings, I didn’t have a guidebook or primer on what to look for. I had to make decisions based on intuition, common sense, and impact. One of the most important factors I came to consider for any legal tech deployment was time-to-value. Time-to-value is a clear, measurable yardstick in an industry that (traditionally) lives and dies by billable hours.”

Prioritize Relationship Building

When you’re on your own, having little cooperation or camaraderie takes a toll. One is the loneliest number. New GCs and CLOs need to prioritize developing strong relationships for role satisfaction and to get work done with internal “clients" like customer success, IT, finance, and sales.

Remember that companies don't typically go from zero to in-house counsel. Someone at your organization handled legal issues before your arrival, even if it was a business stakeholder coordinating with outside counsel. Get to know these people. They will understand how the business addressed legal issues in the past and can help you execute going forward.

Prioritize proximity, too. Above the Law recommends asking for an office near C-level peers or–for anyone fully remote–scheduling regular meetings with a CEO, CFO, and other executives. Building relationships before a crisis means you’ll “unearth important problems and nip them in the bud.”

Tim’s Advice: “Building a network of lawyers is a great way to expand your department without adding headcount. Join organizations or reach out to others in a similar role at a startup or growth company. Leverage your existing contacts (including outside firms). Building a brain trust to swap insights is akin to creating your own board of directors.”

Build A Business Case for More Headcount

Business leaders may think one in-house attorney is enough. Leadership consultancy Spencer Stuart shares how high performers figure out how to “assemble legal teams of internal and external resources effectively.” But a common challenge at growth companies is that there’s no plan for more help. That’s why you need to track your performance closely.

20 KPIs Every Team Should Track

Tim’s Advice: “An overlooked problem for GCs and CLOs is commercial awareness. You need to understand the business, make adjustments, and understand how the business perceives the value you add. A tool that can help provide quantitative metrics for your work is invaluable.  If you can quantitatively show your impact, getting more headcount/resources will be easy.”

Balancing things like commercial progress and compliance is tricky. Still, consider the hard-number impact of your work – and track the sales and customer support outcomes. By monitoring metrics, including total legal spend, outside counsel spend, matter types by spend, and timekeeper rate comparison, you can build the financial case for expanding your team.

A long and successful tenure won’t happen by accident. You establish yourself as a valuable business partner by defining success, prioritizing tasks, developing rapport, and evolving as a data-driven leader.

LinkSquares is here to help one-person legal teams at growth companies power their performance. If you’re ready to write better agreements, close deals faster, and understand every contract–while saving time and money – contact LinkSquares today.

Alyssa Verzino is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at LinkSquares.