Pieter Badenhorst, Director: Legal and Compliance at the AFGRI Group is something of an enigma in inhouse legal circles in South Africa. His award-winning team at the AFGRI Group has broken records at the African Legal Awards, won innumerable international accolades, and regularly held up as a model of what an inhouse legal team should be.
In this conversation, Africa Legal’s Tom Pearson chats to Pieter about what makes this winning team and how Covid is challenging them to find new ways of providing their service while maintaining the spirit that has set them apart.
Pieter reflects on how, when he was tasked with building a legal service department for the business, he started by creating a “legal culture” within the organisation. It took time but gradually the new department gained the confidence of the other parts of the business.
“The more they came to trust the legal team, the more complex the work became. This in turn led to more exposure and then more awards.”
Pieter says the support of AFGRI’s senior management team and chief executive officer have been instrumental in the legal team’s success.
His advice for any inhouse legal team is to understand the business of the company they serve and then to look to where they can add value.
“Once others can see you are part of growing the business the trust will come.”
At AFGRI, he says, the culture is to outsource as little work as possible with the legal services team confident that, because they know the business best, they are the ones for the job.
Covid has emphasized the importance of being versatile, agile and having a diverse skill set, Pieter says. Being able to adapt in a short period and do more with less, has become critical.
Join Pieter and Tom, for this inspiring conversation that speaks to all the challenges faced by inhouse lawyers doing their best during this impossible time. This is one podcast that should not be missed.
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