Opinion | 20-02-18

What is Contract Management and why should it be considered as a legal career option?

In Italy the legal market for contract management positions is not as developed and structured as in some other countries such as the UK. However, this specific path offers interesting and challenging career opportunities for legal professionals with an eye and passion for business. In this article our consultant Laura Tomei, who has transitioned herself through this role, outlines the current state of play for contract managers and why a lawyer might consider this kind of move.

We work with many in-house lawyers at national and multinational companies and we regularly see Legal Counsel who feel that their career is already mapped out for them. Most have never considered moving into the more commercially focused role of a Contract Manager. Often candidates will argue that the role of a Contract Manager is a regression or even a step down; however, this is not the case. There is more to the role of a Contract Manager than just contract negotiation and supporting the business sales teams.

Responsibilities also include:

  • Managing complex, risky and high-value government, international and commercial contracts in accordance with company policies and procedures, applicable laws, and customer requirements
  • Providing on-site advice to a company's business/client units and project teams on contract management and policy compliance matters. Exercising effective, proactive management techniques to adhere to performance objectives and measurements
  • Flexing contractual levers in order to optimise the commercial position and giving advice to project leadership on contractual issues
  • Drafting, negotiating, advising and managing a broad range of contractual transactions
  • Responding to complex inquiries regarding contract obligations and revisions
  • Proactively working with client and company teams to identify risks and issues and suggest alternatives that lead to the best solution
  • Preparing and disseminating information regarding contract status, compliance, modifications, etc.
  • Acting as the primary contact between project teams and/or business units, ensuring all legal and contractual matters are addressed efficiently and promptly

One of the most appealing aspects of being a Contract Manager is that the role sits at the highest level of the business. The role offers the opportunity to be part of the business strategy, to be part of projects and be considered one of the team; essentially to become the trusted advisor of the senior management.

Operating at this level allows a strong platform for personal career development. This is because a Contract Manager position allows you to offer input and see suggestions come to fruition, but more importantly, allows leadership and project management skills to shine to the top Executives.

Legal Counsels will generally get involved in a transaction once the deal has already been closed commercially and as a result they have little room to maneuver. Being a Contract Manager provides the opportunity to shape the deal and prevent risks and issues that a Legal Counsel cannot prevent after the fact. Additionally, Contract Managers work closely with the business, and get to know more about the commercial side than the average in-house lawyer, consequently becoming a precious resource for the company.

In today’s business world companies are always trying to maximise performance, reducing operational, legal and financial risks. The task is particularly challenging as we are continually seeing an increase in complexity of laws and regulations.

The Contract Manager ensures that the life cycle of complex deals are properly managed, that the arrangements for service delivery continue to be satisfactory to both parties, and the expected business benefits and value for money are being realised. The organisation then understands its obligations under the contract so there are no disputes, thus maximising operational and financial performance and minimises risk, hence achieving growth for both new and incremental profitable revenue while maintaining positive margins for existing businesses.

All of these points make the role of a Contract Manager highly attractive and we recommend to any Legal Counsel with an interest in commercials and an entrepreneurial attitude to consider transitioning to this side of legal. We understand that some candidates are put off by the job title but what is more important is the job description as well as the business and its potential.

If you would like to understand the potential of the role of Contract Manager or would like more information on the current market please contact:

Asia – Shawn Chen  

France – Anne Pichon

Germany – Nicolai von Steinacker 

Italy – Laura Tomei

Middle East – Jonathan Warmington

Spain - Javier Colilla

UK – Laura Field