Just like any modern industry, operations play a critical role in successful business function. In the legal industry, operations are defined as a set of business initiatives, processes, and job functions that enable the efficient practice of law. They include technical practices and business strategies that aid legal professionals in delivering optimum services to their clients.
According to the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium’s 2021 State of the Industry report, 57% of those surveyed ranked “automating legal processes” as a high priority for 2021. In addition, 54% rank “implementing new technology solutions” as an equally high priority.
With the industry’s growing adoption of automation, tech solutions are more business-critical than ever before, especially when looking to achieve operational maturity.
The Pillars of Legal Operations
The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) lists fourteen target areas of legal operations:
- Change Management and Communications, or the strategic planning for implementing intended changes within the company, provides alignment, support, and structure for company-facing legal operations.
- Contract Management, including all processes related to contract creation, execution, storage, and compliance.
- eDiscovery, which is defined as the identifying, collecting, and production of electronically-stored information for reasons relating to lawsuits or investigations.
- External Resources Management, or the processes relating to selecting, managing, and compensating vendors.
- Financial Management, including management of all resources, revenues, expenses, and budgets, in addition to ensuring compliance between accounting.
- Information Governance, or a secure system for managing business-critical data that upholds an organization’s compliance, entities, and other functional requirements.
- Innovation Management, including evaluating, choosing, piloting, and implementing all innovative systems within the legal department.
- Intellectual Property Management, or the processes related to the return on investment in the intangible assets of an organization, such as patents and trademarks.
- Internal Resources Management, defined as the operations that advance HR within the legal department.
- Knowledge Management, or the strategic collection and distribution of understood knowledge within a company.
- Metrics & Analytics, or the collection and organization of data for decision making and performance management.
- Project & Process Management, including planning and coordinating all initiatives in the pursuit of efficiency.
- Strategic Planning & Legal Operations Leadership, including processes that set operational alignment, allocate resources and define metric standards.
- Technology Management, or the procurement, evaluation, and maintenance of user-friendly, modern, and scalable software
In todays digital age, organization’s must strive for advanced maturity in the fourteenth and most relevant pillar, Technology Management. According to Gartner’s report, “The Future of Legal,” teams with a technology-forward approach are predicted to outperform those without by 2025.
Advanced technology operations include a well-defined 5+ year technology roadmap that follows industry trends and adapts to ongoing benchmarks. Operational maturity in this area also requires a top-down approach––meaning the support and advocacy for tech solutions should exist from the senior management level down.
Organizations with dedicated technologists or IT resources are well-positioned for operational maturity. However, a crucial part of technology management is finding software that can function 100% off-premises––especially as remote-working becomes the norm in more and more industries.
The use of innovative solutions improves efficiency in every area of legal operations––HR software has a huge impact on mature internal resources management, eDiscovery would not be possible without automation, and cloud-based knowledge libraries are necessary for company-wide alignment. In fact, ACC data suggests that mature legal operations require relevant software solutions for each of the 14 areas.
How Mature Are Your Legal Operations?
Where does your organization currently stand on technology? Have you implemented a five-year roadmap that includes solutions to help manage operational challenges, such as corporate governance and entity management?
Take our short, interactive assessment to determine your legal operations maturity status, and receive customized recommendations and improvement areas.