March 2020 | Wendy Butler Curtis, Chief Innovation Officer, Orrick & Kate Orr, Senior Innovation Counsel, Orrick
We’ve met with more than 50 clients in the past 12 months and have enjoyed a front seat to the transformation happening across legal departments. Our meetings have reinforced that CLOC’s 12 core competencies are not stagnant and continue to evolve in their application and impact. Here is a taste of what we are seeing you all accomplish. You can use these to plan your next project, benchmark with your colleagues, and to continue to show the value that you bring to your legal departments and companies.
Financial Management: This has evolved into so much more than simply reporting on spend or managing to the budget. Legal departments are overlaying spend against key objectives of the company to ensure that the allocation of legal resources aligns with the strategic priorities of the company.
Vendor Management: We started with preferred vendors and negotiating favorable pricing. Legal departments are working with vendors to solve common challenges in technology, ediscovery, and more. They are also asking vendors for data dashboarding to spot trends and inform future action.
Cross-Functional Alignment: Legal operations roles are often filled with business professionals from within the company, including finance, products and IT. These hires bring with them relationships and institutional know-how, and allow companies to repurpose people, process, and technology used in the business for use in the legal department.
Technology & Process Support: Legal operations is changing the culture of legal departments by driving the adoption of technology and incorporating process-driven workflows into serving the business.
Service Delivery & Alternative Support Models: This is not just about insourcing versus outsourcing. It is about right sourcing the work to ensure that tasks are assigned to the right resource. This allows everyone on the team to focus on the high-impact and high-value work. Legal operations professionals are shining a light on churn and helping legal departments to stop doing tasks that don’t bring value.
Organizational Design, Support & Management: Legal operations departments are no longer behind the scenes. The groups are front and center within legal departments and the business. Legal operations professionals are increasingly leading pitch meetings, panel selection, fee negotiations, and outside counsel evaluations, and have more optics into organizational changes impacting their legal departments.
Communications: Together with their GCs, legal operations departments are helping accelerate change and are creating innovation fluency about the company’s business and legal industry. At legal department meetings, they are highlighting how technology is transforming their business, mapping legal goals to innovation objectives of the business, and are training on skills core to legal operations. At legal department retreats, they are changing the curriculum to include design thinking sessions, technology updates, and data metrics discussions. They are also bringing together outside counsel to share innovation success stories so that they may be replicated across all firms supporting the company.
Data Analytics: Using data, legal operations is changing the conversation about value. What is the business goal for the matter? How will success be measured? Are legal resources aligned to the business’s strategies? Legal operations departments are driving the creation of dashboards to spot trends, inform future action, and identify missed opportunities. They are also capturing knowledge about the performance and use of their outside counsel. This includes tracking who at what firms have done work in particular areas for the company, working toward a future where legal operations can provide predictive analytics on who is best suited to solve a specific problem for the business.
Litigation Support & IP Management: Legal departments are partnering with IT to bring even more of the ediscovery lifecycle in-house. Teams from information security, IT, internal investigations, and legal operations are working together to show how particular license offerings can reduce spend exponentially. They are using advanced features to identify risk before litigation and are reducing their digital footprint with their vendors by 50 to 90%.
Knowledge Management: In response to the needs of the business, especially during periods of rapid growth, legal operations departments are creating on-demand, self-service legal solutions for their internal customers. To do so, they scope what the business needs, how much of the need requires interaction with a lawyer, and what portion can be solved with automation and standardization. These solutions are driven by playbooks, AI and legal bots.
Information Governance & Records Management: Legal operations departments are creating programs that provide the business better access to information so that it can harness data for a strategic advantage and, in some cases, monetize that data. They are driving the creation of policy and procedure that is practical and enhances service to the business. They are also complying with emerging data privacy laws and protecting against data breach and the associated reputational damage.
Strategic Planning: Legal operations leaders are reporting directly to their general counsel and are helping set the strategy and goals for the legal department. They increasingly have a seat at the table and are measuring their achievement and performance against the established goals for the legal department.