As an example of these tips in action, consider the steps Mei Ramsay took when she became
general counsel at health insurance company Medibank several years ago. She found a legal
department that was organized by functional areas. “As I was new in the role, I did ‘
meet-and-greet’ sessions with other executives, asking them about their goals, challenges, KPIs,
expectations, and needs. It became clear that the previous structure was not going to meet the
current needs of the business.”
Ramsay reorganized the legal department staff of 20 along the lines of business, asking along
the way, “What level of support does each area need?” She also met one-on-one with each of
the lawyers in the department, to find out what they wanted. She built out skill sets, FTEs,
and levels of seniority to design the new department, and along the way constructed a legal
department that was not only better aligned to its internal clients’ needs, but greatly increased
engagement and satisfaction for the lawyers.
Be the “Department of Yes”
STAPLES AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND || 2016 ACC VALUE CHAMPION
At Staples Australia and New Zealand, the legal department created Project Reinvention
to support the business’s drive to diversify in the face of declining market share in its core
“Although Staples sells one in every four pieces of paper purchased in Australia, the company
has undergone a reinvention, as business in our core category of products is slowly declining,”
says Troy Swan, Head of Legal and Company Secretary.
“We have been working to generate new revenue streams in new categories that support the
needs of our existing clients. These new categories were like a number of smaller businesses
within a larger one. Over the past year, we have focused on equipping our sales team with
support, confidence, and an entrepreneurial spirit that will allow them to grow those
businesses exponentially,” Swan says. Some examples include cleaning and facility supplies,
kitchen and canteen food and supplies, safety products, technology, and office furniture.
Leading a cultural shift away from risk aversion and toward the enablement of
entrepreneurialism and innovation, the four-person legal team educated the sales force on
legal matters and simplified contracting. Changing the departmental stance from risk aversion
to risk tolerance and management, the lawyers worked with the sales team to implement
innovative commercial arrangements with corporate customers, designed to increase revenue
and promote the Staples brand, especially in non-traditional categories.