About the author

Maurus Schreyvogel

Chief Legal Innovation Officer at Novartis International AG

General Counsels (aka CLOs) and the right operations leadership are a match made in heaven 

By Maurus Schreyvogel

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We, the legal operators, love working with you, GCs, and we are impressed every day by how quickly you get to the heart of complicated problems that are presented to you from across the company regularly and frequently. We admire you for mastering the art of building up your arguments to present compelling cases. And we experience you to be modest, humble, and humorous. 

Thank you for offering us a seat at the legal leadership table and for thoughtfully, intelligently, and supportively sponsoring our initiatives to reimagine the delivery of legal services. We have done well together and came far. Amongst other things, we figured out outside counsel collaboration, eDiscovery, contract automation, and litigation management. We have also made considerable progress in enticing our colleagues – the legal function – to move from consultation to collaboration, which has led to more tangible results and given greater purpose to our lawyers. 

As we have increased the functional maturity of legal teams, we are now ready to address the fact that not every piece of legal work requires tailored attention and a perfect solution. In fact, half of the work that we do should be looked at from a perspective of operational excellence to help our business partners obtain faster, more consistent, and simpler legal solutions. We are convinced that this is a logical next step, and in pockets, for example in contracting, we are well on the way to doing this already – it is about harmonizing, simplifying, and automating these services. The questions that we need to address are: 

“How do we lead a legal function that will cover workstyles that range from providing a commodity service to the extraordinarily complex and bespoke nature of developing a litigation or acquisition strategy?” 

“How do we do justice to our people that want and need to be developed on these extreme ends of the spectrum?” 

 As always we come prepared with three archetypical options: 

  • Focus on core legal activities and delegate everything else to business partners 
  • Split the legal function and have an independent legal solutions team manage the day-to-day operational activities 
  • Broaden the legal leadership approach to accommodate both groups, those that work to support the day-to-day business and those that take care of the extraordinary matters that companies face a couple of times a year. 

 All options will lead to spectacular outcomes, happy business partners, and satisfied and engaged legal professionals on both ends of the complexity spectrum. 

Author: Maurus Schreyvogel, Chief Legal Innovation Officer at Novartis International AG.