What is Legal Operations?

Legal operation is an important piece of business operations and it enables organizations to have a set of procedures followed by the legal department. By having the proper procedures in place, the legal department’s work can be streamlined and operationally sound. In turn, the legal department can serve its organization effectively by applying legal services. 

Within the last ten years, the focus of legal operations has shifted and changed. Back then, the main focus was risk management and trying to reduce the cost of having outside legal counsel. Nowadays, legal operations encompass a lot more processes and strategies to improve efficiency. 

Coupled with a lot of technological advancement, legal operations continue to evolve and solutions are more robust. With the industry constantly evolving, utilizing technology solutions will be more widespread and can change the way organizations handle legal data. This is a great way that companies can achieve transparency and enable users and stakeholders to make sound decisions when it comes to providing services to clients.

What is the Definition of Legal Operations?

Legal ops or legal operations is the process of making legal departments run more efficiently and improve decision-making efforts. The main purpose of a legal operations team is to better equip their colleagues who are practicing law, internal partners, and vendors when it comes to delivering the maximum value of the organization. Legal operations are put in place to create value for the legal department as opposed to simply a cost center.

What is the Impact of Legal Operations?

Legal operation is a vital part of any organization, and there are different reasons why. Here are the many different competencies that legal operations are concerned with:

  • Strategic planning

This is a task specifically for managing strategic goals that can meet both the legal department’s goals and the bigger organization governing the department. Strategic planning can help meet short-term goals that are required to also achieve long-term goals. Strategic planning can also be developed to include the company’s inherent values and incorporate them into plans. 

  • Records management and information governance

With an effective information policy design that is easy to access, you can manage and protect your documents efficiently. This is an important step when dealing with sensitive and confidential information and making sure it is properly protected. 

  • Management of knowledge

This ensures that the legal department can find, retain and access knowledge more expeditiously, especially if the issue is time-sensitive. By having a single source of truth, you can build a culture of sharing information. 

  • Litigation support

Litigation support is entailed with the review of large volumes of documents. The main function of litigation support is to have documents and records readily available in the event of litigation risks. With the help of eDiscovery software, you can minimize the manual labor that comes with finding pertinent documents. 

  • Communications

With this competency, the legal department can share changes in communication through various channels and optimizes the tone that is needed to make the communication engaging and more effective. With open lines of communication, the legal department’s role is highlighted and employees can easily reach out if they need anything. 

  • Process and technology support

This competency is involved finding ways to automate legal processes and innovate to solve different pain points. Legal software can help with spending management, contract review, and knowledge management. 

Different Specializations in Legal Operations

Within legal operations, there are many specializations that you have to consider. Usually, the bigger the corporation, the more complex and bigger the legal department is which means that there are different specializations that different members of the team can focus on.

Here are the different specialization areas that legal departments can focus on:

  • Contracts

Businesses deal with a lot of contracts especially and make up the largest source of work for a corporate legal department. The legal department works with Contract Managers to draft and review contracts as well as provide explanations to business stakeholders to streamline the process.

The legal department is also responsible for being subject matter experts and providing guidance when it comes to negotiating and storing contracts and all pertinent documents. 

  • Legal billing

This sub-function is usually the first area of specialization that legal departments focus on. By having an effective billing process, the legal operations unit can oversee legal spending management and work with the accounting department to make sure that spending is on track and reported accurately. With legal billing, the use of e-billing software is more widespread because it creates a level of higher visibility and accountability. 

  • Electronic discovery

Back then e-discovery was outsourced to external legal companies, but nowadays, it is very common to have in-house e-discovery teams within the legal department. With the popularity of e-discovery software which is usually cloud-based, it makes it easier to have higher visibility and different users can have different access controls to make it operationally efficient in handling documents. This is also a cost-effective approach because you are doing it in-house as opposed to delegating it to an external team which can be costly. Many different specializations can fall under e-discovery which includes IT and compliance. 

Importance of Having an Entity Management Software in Legal Operations

With the emergence of technology and how it positively affects business operations, there is no denying that having entity management software to help with legal operations is beneficial. Investments in legal technology can help with the overall operations of the business especially when it comes to managing bills and different entities. 

Entity management software can also help with tracking time, making sure billing time is accurate, and can help with contract management as well as managing documents. 

In-house legal departments are also a cost-effective option because having an outside counsel on payroll can represent the largest expense for a corporation. Entity management software is also cloud-based which enables users to have access to data and technology even though they’re in different locations. 

If you are interested in evaluating your organization’s legal operations maturity status? Take our free assessment today! Athennian is a world-class provider of solutions that can help your legal operations be more efficient and positively affect the bottom line.

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