The increasing importance of legal operations to legal departments
The range of duties of the general counsel is becoming increasingly extensive. In addition to managing risks or contract management, corporate lawyers are asked to pay attention to implementing technology, determining strategy and data analysis. In other words, the optimal functioning of the legal department.
In recent years, the optimal functioning of the legal department has grown into a separate field. Legal operations (or “legal ops”) focuses on optimising legal services by allowing corporate lawyers to spend more time on high-value tasks. Despite the advantages of legal operations, it is a relatively new field within the legal department. To find out how legal departments think about this field, Wolters Kluwer and Law & Ops have published a survey.
Legal operations in the workplace
31% of the respondents indicated that there is a legal operations professional in the team. This role performs certain non-legal tasks, such as financial management, internal process redesign and strategic planning, but the majority believes legal knowledge is important.
Larger legal departments (with more than 10 in-house lawyers) are more likely to employ a legal operations professional. According to the survey, 42% of major legal departments employ a legal operations professional.
Challenges surrounding legal operations
The biggest challenge in improving or implementing legal operations is the lack of expertise. How do you set up a legal operations function for the first time? Because legal operations is a relatively new field, it is not always clear which tasks belong to the position and how legal operations can add value.
Smaller legal departments are more concerned about budget compared to the larger legal departments. How does one justify the budget for this new position? What is the advantage compared to hiring an additional lawyer?
Improvements within the legal department
Respondents were asked to indicate which improvements have the highest priority. Nearly half (48%) said improving processes and workflows is their top priority. A Legal Operations Manager is the perfect person to analyse and improve current processes.
Would you like to know more about the vision regarding legal operations? View our infographic here.