Why the legal counsel of the future is not responsible for contracts

As a legal counsel, you navigate your way through many challenges every day. One of them is keeping your organisation's contracts under control. But… that does not mean you are responsible for them! So who does bear the ultimate responsibility for contracts and how can you, as a legal counsel, add more value to your organisation?

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1. What are contractual processes and responsibilities?

When looking at vacancies for legal counsels, you will quickly notice that 'contract management' or 'contract administration' is often part of the job description. But what exactly is meant by contract management?

In a company, the following fall under the heading of 'contractual processes':

Together, these processes form the contract management lifecycle, with each of the stages in the contract cycle containing specific challenges for the legal counsel. These are explained in detail in the Legal Counsel's Manifesto.



In 80% of European organisations, contract issues are everyday fare for in-house counsel. These can usually be summed up in two thorny points:

  1. Collaboration between the legal team and other teams is difficult in the absence of a streamlined contract process with clearly defined responsibilities.
  2. Maintaining overview and control over contracts is impossible as they are scattered throughout the organisation and kept in different places (online & offline).

What is needed here is a decentralisation of responsibility over contracts, in a centralised environment. And in doing so, one thing is clear: a legal counsel is not responsible for following up on contracts!

2. Why legal counsel is not responsible for contracts

"It is frustrating that I am expected to have an overview of all contracts, know where everything sits and what has been agreed, while often I am not even aware that there is effectively a contract, or where it would be located. I lack overview."

This is a common sigh among legal counsels, and legal departments spend harrowing amounts of time dealing with purely administrative questions about contracts such as:

The reason why these questions are fired at the legal counsel is because they are often seen as the contract manager or contract owner. Unjustified, of course, because as a legal counsel, you want to use your time and expertise to:

  • create contracts (or templates)
  • review and co-negotiate contract proposals
  • mitigate risks to the business, proactively where appropriate
  • resolve contractual issues that surface during the life of a contract

That is what you are trained for, and that is where you bring value in line with the cost you mean to the business. Following up on the contract, and the responsibility of executing it, should be with the business.

As a legal counsel, though, you can be responsible for the contract process. You can ensure that a clear procedure is in place and the right tools are available so that all contractual processes are under control, preferably in an efficient manner and adapted to the needs of the business.

Are your contract processes ready for the future? Take the test at https://info.contractify.io/en/maturity-assessment and receive a personal plan of action for optimising your contract management.

3. The legal counsel of the future

If you turn to the internet or networking events, legaltech is all the rage when it comes to the future of legal counsels. At the same time, the overwhelming range of diverse software makes it impossible for in-house counsels to see the forest for the trees. Therefore, in the Manifesto of the Legal Counsel, we provide some quick wins on how to optimise the contract process in your organisation step by step. Even without extensive knowledge of software implementations or large budgets.


Download the Legal Counsel's Manifesto and regain control of your contract process