February 2022- Don’t Just Make Plans: Turn Your Legal Department’s Goals into Outcomes

February 18, 2022

February 2022- Don’t Just Make Plans: Turn Your Legal Department’s Goals into Outcomes

Each year, general counsel and chief legal officers set strategic goals for their departments. Those goals are typically broad and aspirational, often related to defending the interests of the company or building a world-class legal department. Having big goals is important, but the challenge is turning those goals into measurable actions and then showing at the end of the year what has been done to achieve those goals.

The best way to make progress on your goals and demonstrate value to the organization is to follow a structured framework for approaching them.

  • Start with strategic planning at both the department level and the group level to align objectives. From there, identify budgets, resources allocations and contingencies to help determine the metrics that will measure success.
  • Turning goals into actions requires focus. Appoint champions within the department to help identify opportunities for improvement, particularly those that both are achievable and will have a measurable impact. Also be sure to determine how progress will be measured, as that is critical to demonstrating success.
  • Leadership is among the most critical components of the framework. Developing and delivering on the legal department’s strategic goals should not be a dreaded annual exercise, but an engaging high-priority initiative. Communication from leaders helps the department staff understand the goals and objectives, which in turn makes them more inclined to accept change and even embrace it.
  • There are numerous considerations around staffing, implementation and execution, starting with resisting any urge to assign projects to staff that may already be stretched too thin or unqualified to handle the work. External resources brought in to help with project management, data analysis and reporting can be the difference between success and failure.
  • Finally, remember that success is not simply completing a project or initiative. The true measure of success is definitive results that demonstrate a positive impact, shown through data analysis, reporting, subjective evaluation and modifying things that may not be working.

Moving from strategic goals to meaningful actions requires an understanding of how your department currently operates, what can be done differently and what can be achieved in a reasonable time frame. With the right level of planning, execution and metrics, legal will shine when it objectively demonstrates how its actions and initiatives have positively contributed to the company’s success.


Interested in reading more? In Converting Strategic Goals into Meaningful and Measurable Actions published by Corporate Counsel, QuisLex’s Andrew Banquer shares how to cascade high-level annual goals into actionable plans and projects, how to measure progress and how to show that you’ve successfully accomplished them.

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