How the GC can involve their team in change

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Implementing changes in the legal profession, whether it involves adopting new technology, document management methods, or job distribution approaches, often encounters a common obstacle: the inherent path dependence exhibited by lawyers as a group. Traditional practices and risk management hold significant importance in the legal field, leading to resistance to change. This article explores the best approach to change management for General Counsel seeking to increase efficiency and foster cooperation among legal professionals.

Winning Over Influencers:

Ben Sacks, an expert in management and strategy and president of The Landing Group consulting firm, suggests that effective change management begins with winning over influencers within the legal teams. Mere repetition of information is insufficient to drive behavior change. Sacks advises CEOs to focus on influential individuals who may not necessarily hold the highest ranks. By convincing these “evangelists” of the benefits of new tools or processes, their endorsement can sway the rest of the team.

Addressing Skepticism:

Acknowledging the skepticism prevalent among legal professionals is crucial. GCs should employ their powers of persuasion, similar to a trial attorney skillfully cross-examining to weaken the opposing side. Promising to be open to feedback and evaluation can help gain initial buy-in. Conducting regular surveys and meetings with key individuals within the legal department can provide insights into the team’s sentiments, preferred fixes, and potential reverting to previous methods. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of participation and ensures continuous improvement.

The Importance of Empathy:

Authority alone is insufficient to drive change. GCs should strive to earn influence rather than force compliance. Acting with empathy and understanding the added stress that accompanies change is crucial. Change management extends beyond technology; aspects such as document management, approval processes, and efficient workflows also require attention. Sumi Trombley, senior adviser at UpLevel Ops, emphasizes the significance of understanding the broader legal operations beyond technology implementation.

Integration and Onboarding:

Merely introducing new technologies and processes is not enough to ensure lasting change. Lawyers often revert to old habits when faced with a crisis or significant changes in legal operations. GCs should not leave new lawyers to navigate legal operations independently but rather provide them with guidance and support. Developing a comprehensive guide that covers naming conventions, file maintenance, and best practices, accessible to all team members, facilitates seamless integration and ongoing learning. This shared resource saves time and reduces resistance to change.


Effectively managing change in the legal profession requires a strategic approach. By enlisting influencers, addressing skepticism, demonstrating empathy, and providing integration support, General Counsel can navigate the challenges of change management. Periodic evaluation and the development of a comprehensive process guide contribute to sustained improvements in legal operations, ensuring increased efficiency and the successful adoption of new tools and processes.

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