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Legal Operations: Defining the Function

The role of Legal Operations is that of trusted advisor and transformative leader within a company, one that deals with highly complex legal issues and strategy both with outside counsel and within the business.

The major challenge for legal operations is to adopt practices that support increasingly sophisticated business management and to employ a team with cross-functional capabilities in legal technology and business. As an integrated business partner, legal is responsible for collaborating and supporting a broad and growing array of corporate stakeholders.

To achieve a shift toward more businesslike efficiency and performance, it’s important to understand the increasing number of general counsel, attorneys, Legal Ops managers and others who are consuming analytics and KPIs.  In fact, legal performance data is useful to, and increasingly reported to, a wide-ranging community of corporate stakeholders both inside and outside the law department.

Reporting Stakeholders

Moreover, legal operations managers are now analyzing data to assess impacts and improve legal performance management across a broad range of metrics.  Spend is of course important, but sophisticated operations leaders also understand the importance of contextualize spend - it's not just about how much you spend, but how well you spend it.  They understand, above all, that you can’t master what you don’t measure.

In recent years, Legal Ops Managers have surpassed other departments from an operations and performance perspective.

Areas of Performance Management

Main responsibilities of Legal Ops include:

  • Translating the needs of the business into legal requirements
  • Defining and driving strategic initiatives for on-time and on-budget projects with greater ROIs
  • Managing inside and outside counsel spend
  • Governance of enforced policies and regulations
  • Understand the business and growing needs

Legal Operations as a Business Function

The legal department’s previous predominantly advisory role has evolved into a leadership and innovation position within enterprises. At the same time, Legal Ops must fulfill a basic operational need to analyze and control legal spend and succeed in a complex space that is populated by continuously changing policies and regulations. How are some of the ways Legal Ops achieves this?

  • Through operational focus on business integration for an increasing array of stakeholders (attorneys, business lines, c-suites, etc.)
  • By enabling data-driven decision-making as the desired result of system interaction
  • By standardizing processes and driving predictive outcomes


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