Many corporate legal readers find that they are more successful in developing a vision that in turning it into reality. While these legal visionaries are able to articulate a new and exciting way of practicing law, or managing the business laws. While each legal department and situation are different ,there are some tried and true practices for influencing change within your department and increasing your likelihood of success in bringing that revolutionary idea into life.

1. Know that which you can control, manage and influence: if you and your department does not have meaningful responsibility for a function, your likelihood of being able to manipulate its pieces is easily diminished. For example, if you believe the customer contracting process is broken, but it is owned and managed by sales, you will immediately face strong barriers to driving change. You must first enhance or make more obvious your influence in the function.

2. Identify clear needs, and align them with existing objectives. Many leaders believe alternative fee arrangements can have a significant impact on legal department performance. Simply saying, “Go do it’, however, is unlikely to drive the desired results. If the department has an objective to increase efficiency and predictability in legal services, seek specific areas where fixed fee arrangements will meet this need and implement the solution as aligned with these business objectives.

3. Define achievable initiatives and influential levers. The key words are achievable and influential. Matter budgeting is a profoundly effective mechanism for managing behavior. Even if the budget estimate turns out to be incorrect, the efforts surrounding the determination of the risk and effort to achieve that goal cannot be overstated. That said, matter budgeting can be taken too far. Insisting on timekeeper level matter budgets, for example, is likely pushing this management lever to the point that it no longer has the desired influence (now it is excessive micromanaging). The internal and external effort needed to manage and support the development, tracking and reporting of the budgets also makes the practice far less achievable.

4. Prove the ROI and get executive buy-in. This seems almost like common sense, but many initiatives have died because support waned from those that can most influence change. By defining and communicating a clear and meaningful return on investment during the project pitch stage, not only are you more likely to get executive buy-in and sponsorship, you very well could get a meaningful push to make it a reality.

5. Lead the team. Legal professionals are problem solvers. It is how they were trained and it is in their DNA. They are able to assess and evaluate a situation in ways mere lay people can only watch in awe. Sometimes, this can cause projects to stall. While effective design, buy-in and change management absolutely require input involvement from key constituents, there must be a leader who can break a tie and push the effort forward. Stated another way, beware the steering committee.

6. Take advantages of crisis. While this may be sensitive statement to make in political arena, the intent for corporate legal is far less than the sinister. When bad things happen in the company, you call legal. In the process of resolving the issue. Opportunities may arise to affect the change in the department that are win-win for all. A common example involves eDiscovery. In the event of large litigation, there is also typically meaningful, eDiscovery. Early in the matter, legal department will often seek bids from eDiscovery service providers on the cost of collecting and processing the data.

7. Build on success. This mantra holds true for both expanding the scope of existing initiatives and for implementing new project. When planning a project consider your pilot program carefully. By selecting a a participants that will both receive meaningful benefits and will serve as an influential project champion, you will increase your likelihood of proving values and will have a spokesman to help push the effort forward to a broader audience. Following successful projects, your credibility and realm of influence is high. Leverage this to sell your next project.