Organisations will occasionally find themselves short-staffed/under-resourced for any number of reasons and will require short term support to breach a gap caused by the temporary lack of resources. In terms of ‘legal support’, this might involve support at the operational level providing the day to day services to its clients (internal or external) or at a strategic level providing advice/guidance on structure, service level provision, recruitment etc.
University of Leicester
The University of Leicester is a leading UK university committed to high quality research and teaching. It is one of the foremost universities in the UK and is consistently ranked in the top 20. In 2008, when awarding it the title, “University of the Year”, the judges of the Times Higher Education magazine stated that Leicester was “elite without being elitist”.
Leicester’s Enterprise & Business Development Department (EBD) (through its Commercial Contracts Team (CCT) provides, amongst other things, support, advice and services in respect of the negotiation, drafting and/or review of contracts, agreements, terms & conditions etc. In late 2012, the EBD was going through a period of change due to organic growth and was in the process of being re-structured. The Head of CCT was new to the post and she and the Director of EBD decided that there was need for short term support for Commercial Contracts.
Claric’s initial appointment was for two months but it was subsequently extended twice so that the contract ran for nine months. During this period, I spent two days per week supporting CCT and its Head. My role was twofold:
Operational – Included: i) the negotiation, drafting and review of legal documents on behalf of CCT’s internal clients; ii) advice and guidance to the Commercial Contracts Managers; iii) reviewing and updating all Leicester’s template agreements; and iv) drafting a ‘Commitment to Colleagues’ document setting out, amongst other things, service levels to CCT’s clients.
Strategic – Included: i) advising on re-structuring and resourcing the CCT; ii) drafting and implementing a Communications/Marketing plan; iii) assistance with the recruitment of Contracts Managers; and iv) advising on processes and workflow.
As Leicester is a Higher Education Institution, it enters into different types of agreement that are not as common in the private sector, such as agreements relating to Materials Transfer, Studentships, Analytical Services, Course Delivery etc. The Institution is also subject to additional legislation such as the Freedom of Information Act, Higher Education Act etc. Leicester were therefore keen to find someone who was familiar with the Higher Education Sector. As my experience includes seven years working for another University, I was able to ‘hit the ground running’ and give Leicester the benefit of my experience of heading up a University legal team.
After the initial introduction in October 2012 and the nine month contract, Claric and Leicester continue to work successfully together on an ad-hoc basis.