What Is Legal Ops?
There is no concrete, one-size-fits-all definition of "legal operations" as each entity faces unique compliance and regulatory challenges. However, legal operations professionals form a "business unit" that oversees the day-to-day operations of an in-house legal department.
Legal ops professionals will handle a wide variety of responsibilities within an in-house legal department. They may offer some level of tech support, perform office management tasks, and serve as a senior corporate paralegal.
The field of legal operations will continue to evolve as in-house legal departments become increasingly reliant on entity management software and other leading-edge cloud-based technologies.
Corporate Paralegals vs. Legal Ops Professional
As you know, corporate paralegals traditionally assist attorneys with document review, case prep, and other highly targeted tasks. While this work can be challenging and rewarding, it can become very linear, especially when spending months focusing on only one or two key cases.
Conversely, legal ops professionals take on a much more dynamic role within the in-house legal department. Legal ops professionals not only perform some corporate paralegal tasks but they also serve as a department manager of sorts.
These versatile individuals perform HR, IT, workload management, and compliance-related tasks to keep things running smoothly across the entire legal department.
The most valuable tool to a legal ops professional is entity management software. Modern, cloud-based solutions empower these individuals by automating entity management workflows, reducing the team’s reliance on manual processes, and providing optimal data transparency across the entire department.
Legal operations professionals ensure that projects are transitioned in and out of the legal department in a timely manner. They are also tasked with overseeing virtual minute books, managing project deadlines, and handling other mission-critical tasks.
Why Transition to Legal Operations?
Transitioning out of your role as a corporate paralegal and becoming a legal operations professional offers many benefits. By making this change, you can:
Facilitate Professional Growth
After mastering your responsibilities as a corporate paralegal, you may have a desire to grow and evolve within your company. However, you may not be interested in attending law school or becoming a corporate attorney.
Becoming a legal ops professional bridges the gap between your current role and that of a lawyer. You can make this transition if you want to open the door for new career opportunities and expand your horizons.
Take on New Challenges
Whereas corporate paralegals typically tackle a very specific set of tasks, legal ops professionals serve a dynamic role within in-house legal departments.
These individuals wear many hats during any given workday as they perform HR-related tasks, troubleshoot moderate IT issues, handle compliance concerns, and set deadlines for important projects.
If you are interested in taking on new challenges, transitioning to a role as a legal ops professional may be a great option.
How to Transition to Your New Role
Since this field is still relatively new, there is no established roadmap for transitioning from corporate paralegal to legal ops professional. However, you can mirror the tactics used by those who have gone before you and leverage some effective strategies to broaden your current skill set.
If you are not sure where to begin, reevaluating your current role in your legal department's entity management protocols can serve as a great launching point.
The chances are that you are probably already involved in key processes such as technology, client, vendor, and information management. If you are not, then it is time to speak to your manager or supervising attorneys about expanding your set of responsibilities.
Regardless of which camp you fall into, the next stage of your journey should involve exploring ways to make your legal department more efficient. Put simply; you are looking at core entity management tasks and asking how you can make them better.
Is your team still using physical minute books? Are your current entity management software solutions antiquated, disorganized, or just plain difficult to use? Does your legal department lack agility?
Improving any one of these entity management practices can yield measurable benefits for your department. Cumulatively, your efforts can lead to significant cost savings, offer more value to clients, and help you transition into the role of a legal operations professional.
Ready to Learn More?
Are you a talented corporate paralegal who is looking for a way to accelerate your career trajectory? Would you like to step into a larger role within the legal profession but do not want to make the leap to becoming an attorney?
Ready to break down professional growth barriers and realize your true potential by becoming a legal operations professional?
If any of this sounds familiar, then check out the full Athennian webinar From Paralegal to Legal Operations: Transitioning Your Role. In this exciting webinar, several top industry professionals discuss how they transitioned from corporate paralegal to legal ops and provide tips to help you do the same.