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55% of top legal decision makers adopted a new world view. They are changing the filter through which they look at and manage legal affairs. The result of almost 2 years of surprises, changes, new demands and circumstances — clients are looking at their world differently. And these are likely only the beginning of the changes. Leading legal decision makers have shifted their approach and have widely adopted the following practices:

  1. Expecting the unexpected
  2. Improving lines of communication with management
  3. Learning from what other companies are thinking and doing
  4. Knowing what staff needs to succeed
  5. More strategy and planning

We discuss each below.

Expecting the Unexpected

The unexpected occurs with frequency and certainty. Clients are building worst-case scenarios and contingency plans into their thinking. This planning is taking center stage and lays out actions when an unexpected event occurs.

You can help clients by asking your Marketing and BD department or favorite Information Specialist about natural disasters frequency, recurring catastrophic events over long periods of time, world risk factors, and US risk factors to start. Vet the list and share a few ideas with clients. We noted clients large and small are keenly interested in the unexpected of any scale.

Improving Lines of Communication with Management

Management wants to know what to be worried about. They want the backstory and the risks — and the likely outcomes. Top legal decision makers are spending more time preparing briefings and stats reports on risks, current issues, potential future issues, and events they no longer have to be concerned about.

These briefs are written in business speak for business people. They are short and to the point. The GC’s preparing these documents tell us the new ongoing communication improves decision making, speeds up decision making, and creates more trust in both directions. These same GCs report improved planning and more efficient operations as well.

Learning from What Other Companies are Thinking and Doing

The benefit of knowing what others are doing is enormous. Clients can benchmark themselves, learn new strategies, uncover unseen issues, and increase confidence in their own plans. They are going out of their way to learn and share with others.

Attorneys can shine here by being the first or a consistent source of insight into trends, best practices, and key policies other companies are making.

Knowing What Staff Needs to Succeed

Some staff needs more communication than others. Other corporate counsel prefer formal communication to informal. And in the hybrid work environment, some work nonstandard hours to get their work done. Top legal decision makers are learning and adapting to individual needs to drive success.

More Strategy and Planning

The soaring workload in corporate legal departments is driving change in approach. Clients want to plan more — especially for litigation — as they try to work down the backlog and manage new cases. They are planning their priorities, taking actions to defer lower risk matters, and some are re-grouping matters by risk category or other similar traits.

Corporate counsel have always engaged in planning but it was more informal than today. This is the reason why clients are asking their law firms for early assessments for upcoming work.

A world view is a set of beliefs or a mental model of reality influencing the way people perceive, think, know, and act in the world. In this case — top legal decision makers. Among the many profound impacts of the last 2 years is a redefinition of how clients think about managing their legal affairs.

The law firms who can speak to — and help support this new world view — will do far better than others as the current reality unfolds and beyond.

Best in the market ahead.

The Mad Clientist

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