Executive Briefings

Cisco Attorneys Go from Gatekeepers Who Say 'No' to Enablers of Change Management

Steve Harmon, senior director of legal services at Cisco, has described how company attorneys have transformed their legal department from being "the ivory tower that says 'no'," into a "gateway that provides value to the corporation." OK, so what exactly does that mean?

The legal department's mission statement gives some hints:

• Transparency and integrity
• Be change agents
• Low cost, high quality
• Partner with clients

What is particularly striking is that we usually don't think of a legal department as being change agents, or as driving lower costs, efficiencies, and reduced cycle times. Quite the opposite - most business people groan when they know lawyers have to get involved. Harmon is in charge of the group that automates and optimizes legal services, including contract management and export compliance tools. His group's job is to help expedite the worldwide legal team's work and allow them to focus on "core" activities while automating or outsourcing "context" tasks. The goal is to minimize the time delay between the negotiation of an agreement and the time the customer is able to place orders against that agreement.

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Steve Harmon, senior director of legal services at Cisco, has described how company attorneys have transformed their legal department from being "the ivory tower that says 'no'," into a "gateway that provides value to the corporation." OK, so what exactly does that mean?

The legal department's mission statement gives some hints:

• Transparency and integrity
• Be change agents
• Low cost, high quality
• Partner with clients

What is particularly striking is that we usually don't think of a legal department as being change agents, or as driving lower costs, efficiencies, and reduced cycle times. Quite the opposite - most business people groan when they know lawyers have to get involved. Harmon is in charge of the group that automates and optimizes legal services, including contract management and export compliance tools. His group's job is to help expedite the worldwide legal team's work and allow them to focus on "core" activities while automating or outsourcing "context" tasks. The goal is to minimize the time delay between the negotiation of an agreement and the time the customer is able to place orders against that agreement.

Read Full Article