“In the last few years the role of in-house teams has shifted tremendously,” says Ajmi. “They are not only handling legal matters but also HR, compliance, ESG, integral operations in supply chains, governance, and a lot of other responsibilities, so this can make them feel overwhelmed and confused.”

Understaffing, a lack of resources and heavy workloads facing in-house teams can prevent them from working effectively with the business, Amni says. In-house teams are often so busy fighting fires and working on emergency legal matters that they don’t have time to think about higher value mandates and strategic projects. Poor communication with business partners is another significant factor, Ajmi adds.

“Legal tends to think that everyone else is going to understand the legal mentality and legal language, but this can lead to a breakdown in communication,” she says. Another issue is the fact that the legal department is often perceived as the “no department” instead of a proactive business partner who needs to understand a problem in order to mitigate risk and provide solutions.

When legal is involved in building cross-functional projects and processes, the team often encounters resistance from other departments because the new process is viewed as being entirely legal, Ajmi adds.

Legal departments may want to seek help from experts in order to create a strategic plan that aligns with the business objectives. This could include legal ops professionals within the team, or external consultants. Metrics are also key to helping legal departments track their progress in achieving objectives, and therefore showcase their value to the business.