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Getting Shi*t Done:  Efficiency for Your Law Department 

By Elevate

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Elevate’s mission is to help law organisations with practical ways to improve efficiency, quality, and business outcomes. Today’s legal operations teams take a strategic business approach to their work with law department teams. Lately, the challenge to do ‘more with less’ has intensified, increasing the opportunity for law department heads and legal operations teams to achieve greater efficiency through innovation. 

The findings of recent reports [1] from multiple law industry experts drive home the point. Although many law departments’ headcounts are rising, particularly for legal operations teams, law department professionals must contend with greater workloads, especially around compliance. In addition, law departments find it ever more challenging to secure and retain talent, and law department lawyers spend much of their time on non-complex, rote work and automatable tasks. Many law department leaders don’t have the ability to obtain real-time, actionable data on outside counsel activity, performance, and costs. 

To capitalise on the opportunities that will positively impact their organisations and the industry at large, general counsels’ collective goals include: 

  • Ensure the highest and best use of their lawyers 
  • Gain better control of legal spend (rather than simply slashing it) 
  • Leverage data and AI to analyse law department and outside counsel activity and performance to achieve strategic business advantages  
  • Manage and prepare for emerging data-related risks  
  • Evolve legal operations’ strategic capabilities. 

Pursuing these goals occurs in the context of a law department’s level of operational maturity, as measured by the “CLOC Core 12” functional areas. Some organisations are still at the emerging stage, with a few defined legal operations processes or templates, limited use of technology, and only starting to develop formal metrics and institute reporting. Other law departments are further along, with a defined operational strategy linked to overall business goals, well-defined processes, standardised templates, basic tools, and nascent reporting capabilities. A few law departments have evolved into the highest level of maturity: they have strategies that include short – and long-term initiatives; they have created and use embedded processes, automation, simplified templates; they pursue continuous improvement through updating playbooks, refining processes, and adopting new technology; they have deployed enterprise-wide tools that leverage systems integrations to facilitate collaboration, and they use reporting and enforce metrics that incorporate business intelligence to drive optimal results. 

During this workshop and subsequent breakout sessions, our panelists and the session attendees will highlight their respective maturity stages, the challenges faced, the decision process in selecting a solution, how and what to measure for success, and the positive impact that solution has had to date. Workshop attendees will exchange their stories and lessons learned. These stories will be anonymised and available on our website.  

Increasing a law department’s functional maturity begins with understanding its goals, challenges, and needs. Those factors form the basis for a sensible, effective strategy and dictate how best to customise solutions for a given organisation to ensure an innovative path forward. Helping law departments with all of those activities is what Elevate’s consulting, services, and technology are all about. 

[1] See, for example, “Vertically integrated Legal Service” (Neville Eisenberg and Richard Susskind in The Practice – Vol. 7 Issue 4 May/June 2021); Alternative Legal Service Providers: 2021 Report (Thomson Reuters Institute, the Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession at Georgetown Law, and the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford); 2022 Report on the State of the Legal Market (The Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession at Georgetown University Law Center and the Thomson Reuters Institute).