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Leadership priorities for CLOs in 2021 and beyond

The C-Suite: 2021 and Beyond

What’s changed for Chief Legal Officers?

The COVID crisis has cemented the centrality and importance of the CLO’s role in managing risk and planning for business continuity in the future.

As organisations have changed to meet the demands of the crisis the role of General Counsel in supporting resilience and adaptability has become ever more crucial.

CLOs have had to work closely with Boards and the rest of the CSuite to adjust to new responsibilities and ways of working, and the role has evolved to encompass a greater involvement in the physical and mental well-being of employees.

CIO Mega Themes

Strong Ethical Leadership

CLOs have the opportunity to promote ethical principles not only with the senior leadership teams but also throughout the organisation and supply chain, building in diversity, climate responsibility and supporting new sustainable ways of working.

Enhance Enterprise Value

Legal Departments will add material value across organisations by going beyond business strategy and utilising broader relationships, technology and data.

Agility & Resilience

Legal leaders need to maintain the new-found agility of their role and their teams that was supercharged by COVID-19. At the same time,they need to balance this with resilience and sustainability, which will involve strengthening support for colleagues.

Focus & Execution

There is a need to focus on the ‘stuff that matters’, to automate the mundane, digitalise the department and become experts at execution. Recognising and addressing the new legal, compliance, security and privacy issues arising from the new business models and ways of working will be crucial.

Risk & Order

CLOs have traditionally been a source of calm under pressure, giving a feeling of order in a world of chaos. CLOs need to build on this firm footing, proactively manage risk, using their creativity and analytical skills, to find practical sources of competitive advantage.
Explore these themes further at one of our Chief Legal Officer Network events


“Following the extraordinary global impact of the pandemic whilst operating in a continued fast-paced environment in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world, CLOs need to move beyond legal expertise and step into business acumen, strong leadership and relationship building whilst utilising technology and data analytics to drive efficiency and enhance enterprise value, using their problem-solving skills combined with EQ and creativity.

CLOs are uniquely placed and will do this whilst also promoting ethical principles and adhering to the rule of law. At the same time, it is crucial that they focus on building and investing in diverse teams and get comfortable in promoting new ways of working.

It is quite the challenge ahead!”

Maaike de Bie, Group General Counsel and Company Secretary, easyJet

Maaike de Bie, Group General Counsel and Company Secretary, easyJet

CLO Challenges & Opportunities 2021

As Chief Legal Officers and General Counsels lead their teams through 2021 and beyond, what are the key challenges they must confront and what opportunities can they exploit?
  1. Legal team reskilling, upskilling, motivation and resilience

  2. Managing risk and commercial decision-making

  3. Self-service and legal automation

  4. Diversity and new ways of flexible working

  5. Business model and digital transformation

  6. Improving relations with the CEO, Board and Stakeholders

Volvo Financial Services

“Our focus needs to go beyond everyday business acumen, strategy and regulatory proliferation because that is ‘bread & butter’ for us and has been for many years. The pandemic has caused a seismic shift. CSuite focus has often been on agility, digital transformation and how to engage and retain your people, but the pandemic took those concepts and smacked us all between the eyes with them.

We were forced to become agile and adopt new business and operating models almost overnight. We were forced into new ways of working – globally – overnight. We now need to balance our agility with resilience for long term stability and sustainability, both personally and among the people and businesses we lead.

We need razor-sharp focus so that we become experts at execution. We need to quickly pivot and recognise the legal & compliance issues arising within the new business and operating models that have now become our reality.”

Alexia Maas, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Volvo Financial Services

Alexia Maas, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Volvo Financial Services

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It’s time for the C-Suite to look beyond ‘normal’. Time to build a resilient organisation with a purpose, business model, skills, resources and strategic direction fit for the new future. Find out how C-Suite leaders are prioritising their leadership agenda.

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