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How chief legal officers can lead through the pandemic

The importance of well-being for effective leadership

Explore the insights, experiences, and advice of experts who focus their work on legal professionals so that we might understand the unique leadership experience of lawyers in the COVID-19 pandemic and how you might begin to adapt your leadership approach to the evolving demands.

A COVID-19 leadership approach

The concept of leadership was evolving even before COVID-19. In fact, 80 percent of respondents to the 2019 Deloitte Human Capital Trends survey believed that leaders would need to demonstrate unique and new skills to be effective in the 21st century.1 COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the conversation around effective leadership, and many leaders, including legal executives, are challenged to respond to business impacts unlike anything previously seen and for which the enterprise was not well prepared2—while also navigating the evolving expectations of their stakeholders.

The COVID-19 challenges are immense, and the stakes are high. Alongside the rest of the C-suite, the chief legal officer (CLO) and their outside counsel will likely be on the front lines of both response and recovery. For CLOs, this means continuing to take an active seat at table as the enterprise navigates the risks associated with high-stakes decisions on unprecedented issues. In a recent survey of 110 general counsels,3 67 percent said their workload has increased as a result of COVID-19, and more than half rated the pandemic as having a severe impact on business.

How chief legal officers can lead through the pandemic

Considerations for in-house counsel during COVID-19

Faced with these increased demands on time, energy, and insight and the heightened volume of unique challenges and elevated risk, how can the CLO and those within and supporting the legal function not just persevere through the increased and prolonged pressure, but also demonstrate strong leadership? The answer is twofold: First focus on your own well-being, then reimagine the way you engage your team.

COVID-19 leadership lessons

We sat down with Jen Fisher, Deloitte’s chief well-being officer, to talk about tips for thriving in the face of this pandemic and the economic consequences that might follow. Jen has spent the past five years leading Deloitte’s well-being initiatives and has been a frequent speaker in legal communities on the importance of well-being.

Focusing on how chief legal officers can lead through the pandemic

As CLOs and the legal executives that support them continue to forge ahead into uncharted territory and uncertainty, the need for strong leadership only grows. The importance of well-being, resilience, good communication, and transparency cannot be overstated in their importance to effective leadership during this time of crisis.


1 Deloitte Development LLC, 2019 Deloitte Human Capital Trends, May 2019

2 James L. McQuivey, “PandemicEX First Look: Just 43% Agree That Their Employer Has A Plan,” Forrester, March 4, 2020.

3 Michele Gorman, “GCs Forced to Shift Priorities Amid Covid-19 Crisis,” Law360, April 2, 2020.

4 Richard, Herding Cats: The Lawyer Personality Revealed, Lawyer Brain

5 Richard, Leadership in Law Firms: An Expert Guide, Ark Group.

6 KJ Green, “The Brain: Mystery Explained,” History Channel, February 9, 2012.

7 Ibid.

Contact us

Lori Lorenzo
Research & Insights Director
Chief Legal Officer Program
Deloitte & Transactions & Business Analytics LLP        


Dr. Larry Richard
& Principal Consultant

LawyerBrain LLC                          

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