Interview with Jiang Ying, legal director of the LEGO Group China

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Managing a legal team is a test of a general counsel’s wisdom, especially in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic crisis such as the one the world faces. Jiang Ying, legal director of the LEGO Group, China shared her insight with us on team management

I see a very long-term trend that what an in-house counsel really requires is a combination of legal and commercial knowledge. We think that in order to provide a practical solution or legal advice to our business, we need to have a better understanding of the business. So that’s why I think this is a long-term trend for an in-house counsel.

We always think of what is the real value that an in-house counsel can add to the company. As an in-house counsel, we don’t just say “no” for zero risk, because this is not the value we bring. Our real value is in trying to say “yes” more, with a can-do attitude to driving the growth of the business in China, while also ensuring that our business mitigates potential legal and business risks. So I think the key is to put ourselves in business shoes and try to provide a practical solution.

I encourage proactively embracing technology, rather than being afraid and saying, “oh, maybe my work will be replaced by this high technology”. This is not true. Some work probably will never be replaced by artificial intelligence, like negotiation and high-level complicated communication. I think what we need to do is develop our soft skills like communication, leadership and negotiation. If we do that, I strongly believe that our work cannot be replaced by technology totally.

In this VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) era, we should be more agile than any other time to embrace change, both from the business and legal aspects. From my perspective, there are three aspects to being agile: (1) Be agile in attitude. We should think out of box and be open-minded to look into any emerging business models, platforms or cutting-edge technology, and help business to leverage these in a compliant way to drive growth, especially when businesses are facing escalating impacts and devastating losses due to the coronavirus pandemic; (2) Be agile in action. We should work out a creative way for risk control. We need to allow a certain flexibility, and exceptions in business execution and process, if this will significantly benefit business and improve effectiveness and efficiency during this special time; (3) Be agile in organization. It is important to optimize team resource allocation and prioritize our support to various business sectors. We should not be limited by our original individual role and responsibility in a team when it is necessary to take joint efforts for a cross-function project.”

This interview was conducted during the CBLJ Forum at Grand Hyatt Hotel, Shanghai, on 12 November, with the theme “Seizing Cross-Border Opportunities – Managing Global Risks”. For more information about the conference and videos of the forum sessions, please visit our CBLJ Forum 2019 webpage here.