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Legal operations - how to do it and why it matters: Foreword

This is the foreword to our eBook, 'Legal operations: how to do it and why it matters'. Download the full eBook here or explore the CLOC competencies below. The views in this article are the author's own, and do not represent the views of Juro nor those of CLOC.

Introduction | Financial management | Vendor management | Cross-functional alignment | Technology & process support | Service delivery & alternative support models | Organisational design, support & management | Communications | Data analytics | Litigation support | IP management | Knowledge management | Information governance & records management | Strategic planning

Legal operations might represent the culmination of a huge mindset shift across in-house legal - particularly since the global financial crisis - but it only reflects the broader landscape of wholesale disruption across almost every industry and sector. Automotive manufacturers are reimagining their production lines for electric and autonomous vehicles; financial institutions are rebuilding process for the age of cryptocurrencies; even at my company, Pearson, the tran- sition from print to digital publishing has required profound change at every level of the busi- ness.

Against this backdrop, legal operations is the logical conclusion of our desire and our mandate as in-house lawyers to be more efficient, more cost-effective, and above all to deliver the best level of service to our internal clients.

The excuses for work sitting in a silo, or with the wrong person, or in a queue, are no longer good enough

A military analogy might be useful for legal. During the Cold War, armies arranged their lower-skilled regiments and tank divisions into large, orderly hierarchies; this works really well when the world doesn’t change. But as the nature of warfare changed, armies transitioned to a highly professionalised model, focused on special operations. Now, the focus is on small, agile teams of top-level individuals, all capable of doing each other’s jobs. This pattern reflects the model we’re shifting to for legal; highly-skilled lawyers and legal professionals with strong EQ, who are inquisitive, learn quickly, collaborate easily, disregard convention and have an entrepreneurial mindset. They can work autonomously, not just with each other, but also with other business professionals in a matrix environment.

These are the kind of lawyers and professionals who will make legal operations a success. Our ability to track data means the excuses for work sitting in a silo, or with the wrong person, or in a queue, are no longer good enough; but conversely, data means it’s easier than it’s ever been for us to prove wins and demonstrate the value we’ve added to the business.

To achieve change and prove success in-house, first, focus on the ‘hardware’: the measurable, identifiable core risks you need to address, and the specialists you need to cover them. Then address the ‘software’; the elements that are harder to measure, like culture, leadership skills and generational differences. Finally, formulate and roll out your strategy: establish a clear framework that explains the legal department’s purpose and points to where it is headed and how it will manage the change process to get there.

More than a dozen tried and tested legal innovators reflect on their experiences making the various competencies of legal operations work for their legal team, and for their business as a whole

Through the course of this eBook, more than a dozen tried and tested legal innovators reflect on their experiences making the various competencies of legal operations work for their legal team, and for their business as a whole. These have sometimes involved hardware, sometimes software, sometimes strategy, and often all three; but what they have in common is a willingness to try something new, in order to redefine business expectations of legal.

This isn’t something that’s only available to GCs looking after huge teams in superbly-re- sourced companies with deep benches of lawyers. The process improvements that legal oper- ations can bring are available to any in-house team - whether the team has one lawyer or one hundred - as long as they’re willing to thinking strategically and learn quickly. Those are two skills that every lawyer has in spades. All we need to do is start.

Explore in full the legal ops competencies covered in our eBook, Legal operations: how to do it and why it matters:

Introduction | Financial management | Vendor management | Cross-functional alignment | Technology & process support | Service delivery & alternative support models | Organisational design, support & management | Communications | Data analytics | Litigation support | IP management | Knowledge management | Information governance & records management | Strategic planning

Download the full eBook here.

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