Legal interim management : Advice

Legal interim management is still a recent practice in Belgium. Every year, more and more independent legal experts offer their services to assignments within the legal departments of many companies.

These independent legal experts, whether they are lawyers or not, need to learn a new job. They are constantly confronted with questions as part of their assignments.

Legal interim management : Advice

Do I have to participate in team meetings? What can I do to start/complete my assignment? Do I have to invest in personal relationships with other legal experts in the department? How do I manage my other clients during the assignment? How do I address a colleague when I work for a client and when I myself am a lawyer? So many questions that do not necessarily have a clear answer and for which I recommend suggestions taken from concrete experiences.

As a specialist of legal interim management, the Legalia team has sacrificed a great number of hours to discuss with judicial directors, company legal experts and legal interim managers. Whether it’s during the assignments, interviews or in a more informal fashion, during breakfast or a reception, we have assembled a series of experiences and have taken from it a list of advice that, in our opinion, should be followed in order for a legal interim management mission to go smoothly.

You can have acces to this list here. This list is obviously not complete but we hope that these suggestions will be useful for the legal interim managers. We would be very happy to read or hear any comments you may have regarding these suggestions.

Please find our Advice nr. 1 hereafter:


Advice N° 1: Pay close attention to your opening

It’s essential to be particularly attentive while starting a legal interim management assignment. It’s vital. During the first five days, you will be setting the tone for the rest of the assignment. The first impression you make will stay the same in your client’s mind until you leave the company. Therefore, it’s important to pay very close attention to this period. Here are a few suggestions to make sure you make a positive first impression:

  • Inform yourself as much as possible about the company you will be working with (business activities, products, services, values, etc.).
  • Go over all materials you need practice with, if you have not done so for a long period of time.
  • Memorise the first and last name of all the legal experts you will be working with.
  • Visit the most important business owners you will be asked to work with during your assignment. To do this, ask for a copy of the company’s organisational structure.
  • At the end of the fifth day, ask the legal director or the manager monitoring your assignment if you are acting in a way that fulfils their needs or if there is any area in which they would like you to improve. If they have any criticisms, try to take that into account the next day.
  • Give your first legal advice quickly, usefully, and practically.
  • Have lunch with your colleagues every day. That way, you will spend almost five hours getting to know them informally each week. This time investment will have an immeasurable positive effect and your assignment will be improved greatly if you are able to become familiar with them quickly.
  • Talk with the department assistant, asking him or her what the department’s work consists of. Remember that this person will be a key contact for the length of your mission, from the first day to the last.
  • As for what to wear, do your best to adapt to your new environment. There’s no use wearing a three-piece suit if your colleagues are wearing jeans, and vice versa.