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. Six GCs from different industries shared their insights with us on team management, and gave their take on the impact of the pandemic on their work

Chris Zhao

Chief Regional Counsel for APAC, Safety and Construction

“The situations of the industry and the company are changing over time, and being an in-house counsel means proactively embracing those changes. I think legal team management starts with finding the precise position of your department within the company. To achieve this, you need to know the business, the entire company and its organizational structure, and then find out the position of the legal department that fits the company.

Once the position is identified, it is time to figure the situation within the team – does the in-house counsel team match with this position? It is best if they match with each other, but it is usually not the case. That is when the whole team needs to adjust themselves to fit in that position.

This position is definitely not located in your comfort zone. Using myself as an example, I find myself needing to learn more about new trends in business than before, including communicating with business colleagues in a way that we both understand each other. These are things I learned from the business department.

Having understood their business model, the next step is to figure out what their pain points are. Those pain points in the business department will turn out to be good entries where the legal department can help them and create value for the company. Personally, I still need to keep learning and equip myself so that I can find my position precisely. If every member of our team has initiative and is able to do the above, then our entire team will be in line with the precise position of the legal department in the company at the moment.

There are two words in English – responsibility and accountability. Responsibility refers to the basic duties that you should take on at work, while accountability refers to the duties in your self-perception that showcase your professionalism. The latter is a spontaneous one from the inside out, therefore, our work should focus more on finding our own accountability.

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The above content is mainly from interviews conducted during the CBLJ Forum at Grand Hyatt Hotel, Shanghai, on 12 November 2019, with the theme “Seizing Cross-Border Opportunities – Managing Global Risks”