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Just about every firm today is looking to increase efficiency and productivity. Yet many organizations aren’t sure where to begin.
The answer is simple: Focus on legal operations. This strategy can supercharge your efforts and lead to stronger outcomes and greater profits.
Read on to learn all about why legal operations is important and the benefits they offers to firms like yours.
What Is Legal Operations?
First, it’s important to realize that legal operations is a bit different from traditional legal administration. While legal administration focuses on tasks like researching and creating documents, legal operations focuses on providing in-house support across a variety of disciplines.
Though you might be unfamiliar with it, the term "legal operations" isn’t new. In fact, it stretches back to the pre-internet era. While early legal operations focused primarily on risk management and reducing costs, today it largely centers around adding strategic business value and innovating and improving processes.
With this in mind, legal ops is an evolving field, and companies are constantly finding new ways to use it to streamline operations.
What Are the Benefits of Optimizing Legal Operations?
The idea of optimizing legal operations may seem counterproductive, especially for busy and understaffed legal departments. But taking the time to overhaul your legal operations strategy and integrate best practices can lead to a range of benefits.
Many companies are struggling with inefficient processes that prevent them from capitalizing on new opportunities. This is especially apparent in regulated industries, like finance and healthcare. Optimizing and modernizing legal operations enables legal teams to move faster and with greater accuracy.
Companies today are collecting more and more data, which is increasing the need for robust cybersecurity, privacy, and data governance policies. Part of optimizing legal operations teams involves integrating them with data security and compliance teams and bringing them into the loop with daily decision making. This reduces risk while freeing teams to remain innovative and agile.
Legal operations has an important role to play in vetting potential partners, vendors, and mergers. By optimizing legal operations, companies can make informed choices using high-quality data. This allows for better decision making and fewer errors.
What Are the 12 Pillars of Legal Operations?
The truth is that no two companies are alike, so each legal operations team will vary in terms of its overall approach. But for guidance, there's the popular Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) “Core 12” competencies. This is a widely-used framework that many legal teams use to guide their daily operations.
These 12 pillars apply to multiple environments within an organization and aim to help companies achieve a state of overall operational excellence. Here’s a breakdown of each component.
1. Business Intelligence
Most companies are collecting increased data but failing to maximize its potential.
Business intelligence is all about making informed and impactful decisions using data. With a robust business intelligence plan in place, firms can more easily deploy metrics, create data lakes, and use data analysis. This also requires using a business intelligence platform, which serves as a one-stop shop for data discovery and production.
Legal operations provides support by helping determine the right way to collect and analyze data and identify patterns and opportunities.
2. Financial Management
Companies often have silos between departments with little to no visibility into budgeting and spending. This makes it difficult for companies to plan and invest—and it creates risk.
As such, financial management is a core part of legal ops. Ideally, companies should have full transparency and communication between finance, legal teams, and other departments. This reduces risk and eliminates financial tensions.
3. Vendor Management
A partnering vendor typically acts as a direct extension of the firm. For this reason, organizations need to be very careful about the businesses they work with.
Vendor management involves performing due diligence when selecting the right vendors, analyzing contracts, and onboarding new companies. Legal ops also has an important role to play in vetting companies for regulatory compliance like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In some cases, companies can be responsible for partner data breaches or security vulnerabilities.
4. Information Governance
Data is both an asset and a liability. And with cyberthreats increasing annually, companies need to take active measures to protect their data. With this in mind, information governance is another important need that legal ops addresses. This involves creating and enforcing policies that reduce corporate risk and also help maintain privacy and security compliance.
5. Knowledge Management
Companies are struggling to retain workers in the post-pandemic era. As a result, they face operational risks due to staff departures and changes.
Legal operations reduces risk by forming knowledge management hubs and templates. This helps to quickly onboard new workers and cross-train employees when workers suddenly depart or change positions.
6. Organization Optimization and Health
To attract and keep workers, companies must create a hiring vision and work to establish a culture that aligns with its values and goals.
Legal operations now typically play an integral part in shaping organizational health and wellness and help craft fair and respectful policies that ensure worker balance and rights.
7. Practice Operations
While legal operations focuses on everything required to run a law firm, practice operations is all about ensuring your legal team can spend as much of their time practicing law as possible.
Rather than bogging lawyers down with operational tasks, practice operations helps legal teams focus on the most important tasks while increasing their productivity.
8. Project and Program Management
Busy legal teams may have hundreds or even thousands of small tasks to accomplish, all with tight deadlines and specific requirements.
To keep operations moving forward, legal teams should have a comprehensive program and project management system in place with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, dedicated software, and budgets.
9. Service Delivery Models
Large companies often outsource core operations to service providers. This requires careful tracking and management in order to reduce risk and control costs.
Legal ops teams need to clearly define and structure each relationship across their organization. They also need to look for ways to reduce overall reliance on expensive firms to boost profitability and protect margins.
10. Strategic Planning
Legal teams often make short-term plans based on incoming work instead of thinking about long-term goals. As a result, they fail to act strategically.
Legal ops is all about strategic thinking and focusing on the bigger picture with each project. One of its main goals is to align overall company priorities and create a roadmap for success.
To compete in today’s digital world, legal teams need to do away with manual, time-consuming workflows.
In light of this, modern legal operations relies heavily on modern software solutions that automate repetitive tasks and enhance accuracy and productivity. By doing so, teams are able to accomplish more with fewer errors. At the same time, employees are happier because they don't have to waste their time on repetitive, low-value tasks.
12. Training and Development
Training for new employees and career development for current employees are essential in order to prevent workers from prematurely moving on to other opportunities. Therefore, legal ops teams should create training resources and form development plans to maintain their workforce.
Venio Systems: End-to-End Software for Modern Legal Teams
It's much easier to optimize legal ops with the help of a purpose-built platform like Venio Systems’ end-to-end eDiscovery solutions.
Venio centralizes data and enables faster processing and analysis so you can improve your legal team’s productivity tenfold. With Venio, legal teams can act with greater transparency, accuracy, and speed—and achieve better legal outcomes because of it.
For more information about how software can help you enhance legal operations, check out Venio by requesting a free demo today.
About the Author
Justin Reynolds, Akshita Singhal & Lianna Vaughan
This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling. This post was reviewed and published by Akshita and Lianna, the in-house team of Venio.