Dear Andy,

I’m curious if you’ve had experience applying OKRs to the in-house legal world. I’m the rare lawyer who loves numbers and so the thought of trying to make my goals more objective and measurable excites me. However, I find it difficult to tie my goals into those of the business, given my not having full control of the prioritization and outcome of business Objectives.

Thank you in advance for any insights you might have.


We're sharing reader questions, answered by the team. Named in the honor of Andy Grove, the creator of OKRs.

Hi Mark!

Thanks for writing in.

At What Matters, we believe OKRs can be applied successfully to any aspect of any business, and that includes in-house legal teams. If I’m understanding you correctly, it sounds like you’re struggling to connect your work in the legal department to your company’s source of revenue and growth. Let’s see what we can do to help you bridge that gap.

In a typical OKR practice, executives set company-wide priorities to serve as the groundwork for setting department, team, and individual OKRs. What has your company prioritized this quarter? How can legal support the company to help make hitting those goals more achievable? Let’s say, for example, your company is looking to explore crypto currency — does that post legal challenges or change liability? How could legal enable the company to leverage crypto towards its mission, boldly, safely and quickly?

Are there any changes to laws that will affect your company’s product? Think antitrust laws, new patents, privacy matters, AI copyright, even TikTok potentially getting banned. What can legal do to proactively move the organization forward (without driving over a cliff)? Do you have the expertise you need? Do business leaders have a clear understanding of how changes to the law may impact the business? Are there any roadblocks to your company’s agenda that legal needs to tackle differently from business as usual? These could all be used as the basis for your OKRs.

How about the company’s people and processes? For example, are there certain types of contracts (visas, real estate, NDAs, etc) that tend to give your team trouble, resulting in a slower hiring process? What would need to be true for legal to get the best talent easier?

Each department may also have unique challenges to address and goals to set, so it’s also okay to have your own “Team Legal” OKRs. Make them visible to the rest of the company. You might find out that another department is working on privacy or crypto, and be able to design processes and services that make your team, your colleagues and your customers’ experiences better. Maybe while they think you should be cranking out their contracts, your team’s priority is to open up the markets in a new country and applying for licenses is this cycle’s priority. It helps other departments understand what you’ve prioritized this quarter (and maybe ward off a few “why is this taking so long?” questions in the process).

Finally, if you’re struggling to connect your departmental goals to the broader picture, why not ask for guidance? Don’t be afraid to, politely, ask “where does legal fit into this?” Whether they’re using OKRs or not, departmental alignment is a top priority for all leaders, so I’m sure your executives will appreciate how eager you are to see your work contribute.

Well Mark, that’s all I have for you. Thanks again for writing in and best of luck to you on your OKR journey.

Billy from the What Matters Team