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Guest Editorial: Principle-Based Advice for the In-House Legal Team

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I suppose it comes as no surprise to anyone working in an in-house legal team that we are often asked to do “more with less.” Although this may be feasible on some occasions, it is clearly not an ideal or sustainable way of doing (legal) business. In fact, what often happens is that we end up just doing “less with less” – which may not be a bad thing, after all, provided it is done in the proper way.

Besides, our time is our most valuable and limited resource. For us to be productive, while also protecting our health and wellness (which is important not only to us but to our organization, as well), we need to be selective in where we can make our greatest contribution.

What we have come up with, to cope in the most efficient way, is to provide what we call “Principle-Based Advice” or PBA for short. This means that we employ strategies to help our internal clients help themselves. To help them think ahead and solve broadly; to help them become fishermen, instead of handing out the fish; to help them experiment and grow, without abandoning them; to trust their judgment, focus on what matters, and own the risks together.

It all starts small but with the eyes always on the big picture. It is important to work on the change of mindset: both for the clients, who must learn to apply the principles of a sound legal solution without being specifically told how, and for the in-house legal teams, who must let go of things and still be graceful and supportive while doing so. We are using several channels to spread the word, train everyone, and share best practices so that PBA becomes the default method of legal support.

Using PBA has the added benefit of promoting a culture of compliance and multiplying the beneficial influence of the legal team throughout the organization: instead of leaving legal risks to the legal team, all employees become owners and managers of the legal risk, with legal being the helping hand when needed.

I’m pretty sure a lot of legal teams are already practicing PBA – I guess we just gave it a nice name and, maybe, took it to the next level. 

By Stathis Mihos, Senior Legal Director, Platform Support – Greece, Cyprus, Malta, and Israel Sub-Cluster Lead Pfizer

This Article was originally published in Issue 9.9 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.

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