Team structure map for in-house legal

When implementation goes wrong
19 April, 9am CST
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It’s always an exciting time when you get the green light to grow the team.

But what role should it be? What should progression look like? And which role might come next?

We’ve sourced a legal team structure map to help you out. 

Benefits of a team structure map for in-house legal

In-house legal teams are quite diverse, depending on the company you join. Having a legal team structure map in place can be useful as it can:

  • Help you plug the gaps that need filling in your company - for example, if you’re working at a heavily regulated company, in the fintech or healthtech space, you may want to invest heavily in hiring regulatory lawyers
  • Help legal leaders create a career path for their direct reports, providing them with opportunities for learning and development
  • Increase the chances of buy-in for additional headcount. Being able to demonstrate the value of an additional hire, as well as showing a structure map for how you want the team to grow, will help you make your case for another legal hire

Structuring your in-house legal team

What advice do other in-house lawyers have for structuring your legal team? Our community members and in-house legal leaders share their expert advice.

1. Don’t try and ‘earn’ a second hire 

According to Ahmed Badr, Chief Legal and Risk Officer at GoCardless, there’s a common misconception around requesting additional headcount:

“When I was the first lawyer, I took an approach that’s probably common and definitely misguided: I worked myself to capacity until I was told I needed additional resource.

My strategy centered around showcasing my hard work in order to be ‘rewarded’ a second hire. This worked, but there are less stressful ways to get the resource you need”

Instead, make sure you know exactly what you need, and maintain an open, honest discussion with the business. Check out what Ahmed had to say about building your legal team.

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2. Understand how legal will tie into key business objectives 

Karen Klein, CLO at Relativity, shares several insights on scaling the legal team on our blog. One key piece of advice she offers is to understand how legal hires will make a positive impact on the business objectives.

“Make sure you can answer three fundamental questions: How is our legal headcount affected by our industry? How is our legal headcount tied to the growth of the company? How will legal be a partner in that growth? 

Lawyers should prove their value as a partner to the business’ growth, and find a way to showcase the commercial benefits of hiring another lawyer.”

3. Leverage feedback from the wider business 

Getting feedback from the wider business on how legal operates can be useful when you’re trying to structure the legal team, as Dylan Marvin, CLO at Cision, explains.

“We use net promoter score (NPS) to get feedback on both the legal team and the privacy team, in the same way a software company may get feedback from customers on their product. 

It’s actually one of legal’s key metrics - every quarter, our commercial contracting team asks all of our key internal colleagues to answer a basic net promoter question, alongside whether the legal team is fast enough; whether the legal team’s answers are clear enough; and any other comments and suggestions.”

Negative feedback may be indicative of a lack of resource, or time, to dedicate towards enabling the business to succeed. Comments and suggestions may suggest that another hire is necessary, especially if certain areas are flagged, like privacy or product development.

Find out more about how Dylan maps out the legal team.

Access the team structure map to get started with building out your own legal team.

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