One of the biggest hurdles for any in-house legal team today is the need to define and articulate the team's value to the C-suite and other executives. To determine these values requires interpreting legal work in business terms. Demonstrating that value requires measuring and understanding outcomes, which requires proper metrics and data analysis to help legal units drive desired behaviors and quantify successes.
The ever-growing number of in-house legal departments, the technological advancement and increasing complexity of management is changing the way legal business is conducted today. Today, agile corporate environments require agile legal departments. A traditional legal team might struggle with balancing pressures of the businesses while scores of contracts have to be evaluated every day. Therefore, legal teams today are being redefined to cater to the needs of organizations; they are more diverse, more tech-oriented and more efficient.
Legal ops or Legal operations focus on how legal services are delivered today by taking bits of the organization which are pre-existing and putting them together in one place, one team. These teams bring together people from diverse backgrounds and allow them to collaborate and augment the service they provide to their clients. Legal operations officers and their units bring together leadership, knowledge and experience necessary to help align legal services with enterprise objectives.
Businesses that set up an effective legal operations team can reap multiple valuable benefits—including higher quality of legal work, improved resource efficiency, improved legal risk profile, and better talent retention.
A legal operations group consists of diverse individuals with varying backgrounds. It not only consists of lawyers but can also have project managers, a full-grown tech team to support other functions. The team directly reports to the General Counsel. It is responsible for the operations of the legal department, with the ultimate goal of maximizing the delivery of legal services.
Someone with a strong financial background, CPA or MBA, would likely make for a good choice. The basic differentiator of legal operations professionals would be their business management experience.
The operational staff must have a strategic, operational and data-driven mindset. You'll need people who are smart, self-motivated, tech-savvy, good with numbers and have leadership traits. From a managerial standpoint, the person must be able to engage business stakeholders at all levels of the company. They should be able to create processes and practices to improve the day-to-day efficiency and effectiveness of the legal team, facilitate change, and control costs.
A typical legal ops team would ideally consist of the following mix of people:
Generally, a legal operations team focuses on financial matters since it is where an immediate risk and benefit can be seen. However, there are a variety of operational tasks a legal ops team can perform. A smart general counsel realizes this and uses the team in its entirety, from financial analysis to strategy.
In conclusion, legal operations, while a young and developing discipline, has already shown its impact in both, traditional and modern businesses. It is very much the differentiator between overworked legal teams and places where the work is streamlined. Over the next few months, look out for more posts from SpotDraft on legal operations.