Morae Global hosted a roundtable discussion entitled “The Law Department as a Business Enabler” on Sept. 28 during the 57th Annual Corporate Counsel Institute (CCI) at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in Chicago.

Moderated by Morae Global Director, Chuki Obiyo, the panel included Morae Global Managing Director, Heidi Rudolph, and explored the corporate law department’s mission to “protect and enable,” with a focus on how to become a business enabler through the right people, process and systems.

“It has always been standard practice for law departments to function as a protector of the business,” says Obiyo. “But business demands now require law departments to make progress toward becoming a business enabler.”

Obiyo and Rudolph were joined on the panel by:

  • Megan Agnew, Senior Counsel M&A and Transactions at Conagra
  • Todd Sheldon, Executive Vice President and General Counsel at PulteGroup
  • Dennis Kennedy, Former Vice President and Senior Counsel at Mastercard

“Legal operations’ baseline responsibility should be to let lawyers be lawyers while removing the administrative burdens,” says Rudolph. “Once the trains are running, ops can assist in more strategic legal business responsibilities.”

The Institute featured leading practitioners, academics and regulatory officials who provide in-house counsel with updates on legal developments and current issues impacting business.

Other key takeaways from the Institute include:

  • Outside counsel and other service providers continue to innovate so it is imperative for in-house counsel to be on their toes and thinking about how to work smarter and more effectively. T. Sheldon
  • In-house leaders should constantly think about how to free their internal teams to tackle business critical activities while sending the rest outside to ALSPs. D. Kennedy
  • It is critical for lawyers to build strong relationships with internal business stakeholders so that they know how to work with Legal and can appreciate the demands placed on lawyers. –M. Agnew
  • Consider “just in time, just enough” learning for Legal and for the business. For example, creating Wikipedia-style explanations of key legal concepts for new product areas or new regulations that are understandable and easy to digest. D. Kennedy
  • It is critical for in-house counsel to pick up the phone and talk to their business colleagues. Outside counsel are trained the opposite way: Think, plan, craft, test and then respond. “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good,” or even “good be the enemy of fine,” when you’re moving fast and responding to the needs of the business. M. Agnew

The Corporate Counsel Institute is designed exclusively by a committee of general counsel from some of the nation’s leading corporations providing a unique forum to learn from leading regulators and practitioners in the field and for peers to network and discuss the latest issues that in-house counsels are grappling with today.

For more information about Corporate Counsel Institute, please visit http://www.law.northwestern.edu/professional-life/professional-education/programs/cci/

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