Reimagining Legal Secondments

Reimagining Legal Secondments

Using Positive Dialogue to Create Change that Delivers Value for All


Client Challenge

Our client is a multinational bank and financial services company.  Its legal function, which employs over 1000 people, the majority of whom are lawyers, has relationships with over 100 law firms, many of whom are required to provide secondees as part of their panel commitments.  

As part of a wider organisational change programme, our client needed to make changes that would maximise the value the lawyer secondment programme was delivering to the bank, but which would also be perceived as positive by both panel law firms and individual secondees.


Our Solution

In order to maximise the likelihood of successful change, our client wanted an approach that would promote stakeholder collaboration. While it was important that all parties were given an opportunity to discuss the secondment process from their perspective, it was also essential that the conversation remained positive and forward-looking.  Our dialogic approach to change was seen to be ideal for this.

The change process broadly followed the 4D cycle of Appreciative Inquiry, highlights of which included:

‘Discovery’ – appreciating ‘the best of what is’, involved collecting stories from organisational stakeholders within the bank and six, panel law firms, in order to understand what makes a great secondment.  Data from over 70 respondents were then analysed, with recurring themes and areas of difference identified, and a summary report produced.

‘Dream’ – imagining ‘what could be’, saw stakeholders come together for a facilitated workshop to make sense of the report findings, with the goal being to generate a shared vision of possibility and potential for future secondments.  This was achieved through small-group tasks designed to stimulate open and honest conversations.

‘Design’ – determining ‘what should be’, involved the design of new structures and processes, including documentation to aid the setting of objectives and creating a set of metrics for evaluation.  These prototypes were then tested through robust stakeholder dialogue with opportunities to suggest further improvements.  This ensured that the changes would meet the needs of all stakeholders.

‘Destiny’ – creating ‘what will be’, although a consistent approach to secondments was taken, the underlying processes were flexibly specified, wherever possible.  This was in order to allow for further improvisation and innovation at a local level, in response to future unanticipated changes; helping future-proof the secondment process and encouraging stakeholder ownership.



  • An evidence-based understanding of what each stakeholder is looking for from the secondment process
  • Aligned stakeholder interests through a shared vision of what makes a secondment successful
  • A streamlined and standardised process for scoping, sourcing and evaluating secondments
  • Increased stakeholder ownership of the secondment process


To learn more about how our approach to change could help you successfully bring change to your organisation, contact us and let’s get the conversation started.