Navigating Legal Operations: Roadmap & Support Pack
Legal operations traces its beginnings to the launch of electronic billing and discovery tools in the early 2000s. A few years later, the economic recession of 2008-2009 prompted a new focus on cost savings and administrative control, including in legal service delivery. By March 2015, the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) had launched its dedicated legal operations support arm, and in 2016 the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium convened its first annual institute.
Despite the short history of this new discipline, legal operations has become increasingly popular because it answers key questions about efficiency and effectiveness in legal work: how can a corporate legal department best deploy its team of smart lawyers and its technical resources to advance the organization’s goals, safeguard the business from all sorts of risks and protect corporate values?
The Shift Toward an Agile, Adaptive & Effective Legal Function
Legal operations gained an even more strategic importance in the post-pandemic economy that is increasingly dependent on digitally mature organizations. Law firms and corporate legal departments were under pressure to shift to a hybrid working environment and tech-assisted legal work has become a priority in digital-first organizations.
Traditionally, the legal function (in-house or external counsel) focused on risk avoidance and – where prevention measures have failed to some extent – optimizing risk management. In this responsive mindset of practicing law, innovation did not actually come into play. However, as organizations increasingly embraced digital transformation, the role of legal operations was pushed towards innovation and evolving into a strategic partnership for business.
There are several definitions and methodologies or roadmaps for legal operations. However, the key to successfully setting up this function within the corporate legal department is all about practical considerations. The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) for example has a so-called ‘maturity model’ that offers benchmarks in 14 areas, from change management to compliance to intellectual property management and technology. Alternatively, the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) says that the discipline spans 12 core competencies, including data analytics, cross-functional alignment and professional development.
Our online survey on legal operations supports industry leaders with a highly practical look at optimizing legal work. The survey is focused on 10 key areas of legal operations, and it incorporates best practices from both CLOC and the ACC, as well as our own experience serving legal departments in Europe and beyond:
Legal Intake and Workflow Management
Legal Team Management
External Resource Management
Communications with Business Units
Day-to-Day Legal Work Streams
In-house Strategic Planning
These 10 areas of legal operations constitute the agenda for our online course, a 2-credit training also accredited by The Belgian Institute of Company lawyers (IBJ-IJE). This training course is basically an overview of our survey findings from the last several years and a summary of highly practical advice when it comes to optimizing legal operations in corporations.
As the data-driven economy requires organizations to leverage digital solutions in order to remain competitive in a given market segment, legal departments are required more than ever to become a forward-thinking team that can truly advance the organization and create a business advantage. As part of this effort, legal operations support (in any industry) has shifted to become a dedicated unit of the corporate in-house department which:
➤ Leads investments into legal technology solutions to harness the power of data in legal and business context;
➤ Focuses on optimizing legal work processes; and
➤ Integrates digital legal solutions into the overall business strategy of the organization.