IICJ Paper How To Run Your In-House Legal Department Like a Profit Center Susan Diehl, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Holcim Ltd, USA

I have always had a love of business, even when I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. Reality set in at my first in-house position, during the height of an industry slump. That job taught me what often defines the life of corporate positions: being .overhead. . I learned that when times get tough, "overhead" gets going (right out the door). The nearly quarterly demands to trim our already meagre ranks were also accompanied by the question - "what, exactly, is it you do?" This hard lesson spurred a journey to prove that what an in-house lawyer does is something worthwhile for business. The question is how to define and demonstrate the value creation potential of an in-house legal function. Despite numerous articles on law firm convergence, e-billing, and TQM for dummies, none provided me a road map of how to translate individual actions and transactions into a total system for value creation. This system also needed to be translatable to the business. Ultimately, the answer came from the principles of business itself - strategy and execution. In this article, I will discuss how our company's legal function evolved from an assembly of high quality lawyers acting individually, to a highly performing team that has leveraged its small size by using tested business principles to create and execute a strategy. The goal - to be a corporate service that adds to, not detracts from our company's bottom line - is still a work in progress. As with most things, the fundamentals are critical. Then, it is about basic strategy, execution and continuous improvement.
Author
Susan Diehl
Susan Diehl
Susan M. Diehl is Senior Vice President, Logistics and Supply Chain Management of Holcim (US) Inc., the largest cement manufacturer in the U.S. and part of Holcim Ltd, a $20 billion global supplier of cement, aggregates and construction-related materials. Ms. Diehl was formerly Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of the Corporation and has moved into line operations after 21 years of legal practice, 15 of which were in-house.
Company
Holcim Ltd
Holcim is one of the world's leading suppliers of cement and aggregates (crushed stone, sand and gravel) as well as further activities such as ready-mix concrete and asphalt including services. The Group holds majority and minority interests in more than 70 countries on all continents, and employs some 90,000 people.
Country
USA More
Area of Law
Management More
Business Sector
Industry More
Month Published
February 2008 More
Edition
Vol. 1, No. 3, Spring 2008 More
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