In today’s 60-second interview, Deloitte Legal’s partner and global head of Legal Management Consulting Jack Diggle talks to The Lawyer about the importance for legal functions to have an operating strategy in place, where they formally define and prioritise the services provided by Legal, and to look strategically and critically at the best delivery model for each service they provide.

What is the cornerstone of a successful operating strategy for legal departments?

Somewhat tritely, I would start by saying ‘have one’ – it is amazing how few legal functions actually create a strategy or business plan each year. Beyond substantive legal focus areas, I’d concentrate on the following. Firstly, it is important to have a robust and formal agreement of service priorities with the business. While this sounds obvious, few legal functions formally define and prioritise what services Legal will provide (the ‘service catalogue’). There is an inevitable tension here between Legal’s role as risk steward vs business enabler here and the key is for both sides to find the appropriate balance of interests. It is also more constructive to consider how the legal budget is allocated in consultation with the business rather than in isolation within the legal function. The second key area is to have a relentless focus on systematisation.  Giving the ever-rising demands on legal, there is an imperative both to constantly look at the most efficient way of doing things and also to measure what is done. This needs to consider sourcing, process and automation levers. Thirdly, a successful operating strategy must have a far stronger focus on people than in years gone by. Many in-house lawyers are jaded particularly coming out of the pandemic year and only by prioritising career paths and job satisfaction can GCs hope to retain and motivate the best people.

Jack Diggle

Is there a need for legal departments to first educate the wider business on the work it does?

I see so much opportunity for legal functions to better define their role. There is a clear need for education both ways – legal needs to understand their business customers as much as legal needs to educate the business on the regulatory landscape. However, this is only part of the story. Too often we see legal functions as purely reactive to the demands of the business. There is often a lack of proactive value-creating ideas from legal. At its simplest, this could be legal taking a role in driving improvements in how work gets delivered – creating a better way of delivering M&A, for example. But it can also mean legal creating value in new or unexplored areas, such as defining approaches for reducing value leakage in post-execution contract management, how to better commercialise IP portfolios or even to look at claimant litigation or anti-trust enforcement.

Where should legal functions be focused to drive efficiency?

There are three areas that I see legal functions focusing on right now. The first is re-imagining their sourcing models. It’s very easy to continue having work performed by the same delivery model. However, there are such huge disparities between the cost of external vs in-house functions vs low cost or automated delivery. Legal teams need to look strategically and critically at the best delivery model for each service and constantly challenge the status quo. Secondly, we are seeing a big focus on contracts transformation programmes and the introduction of enterprise contracts technologies. The opportunities to reduce leakage in the contract lifecycle are material both in driving faster revenue and realising the full value anticipated in contracts. While Legal does not always hold the purse strings for such change, their role is key to drive successful delivery. Thirdly we are seeing a move to ‘front door’ triage approaches and self-service solutions. These not only help better track legal demand but reduce the sometimes-unnecessary over-reliance on a high-touch service model.

What is your favourite book and why?

My guilty middle-aged pleasure is playing Bridge. While so much of my day job involves supporting clients on long term and complex change, I love the bite sized conclusive drama every hand of bridge provides. Victor Mollo’s ‘Bridge in the Menagerie’ is a classic book full of wonderful characters such as the Hideous Hog, Molly the Mule and the Rueful Rabbit who capture the varied psychological aspects of the game. I love escaping into its world.