Holistic Vision and Strategy Feed Growth of Legal Operations

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Published in Law.com and Mid-Market Report

By Ioana Good

Legal operations (“legal ops”) are game-changers for most firms. The discipline continues to evolve by leaps and bounds, improving upon a legal organization’s ability to increase efficiency and productivity while serving clients by means of business and technical practices. Assessing the operational demands and supplying client solutions remains crucial to law firm success. Simply put, the goal of a legal ops team is to understand the holistic operations of a firm and inject the processes and tools that constantly improve how the firm works.

CLOC (Corporate Legal Operations Consortium) is a global group of professionals dedicated to improving the business of law. Facilitating collaboration between legal operation professionals with other industry players, including law firms, technology providers, and law schools, CLOC sets industry standards and practices for the profession.

Nicole Cote, Head of Marketing & Events for CLOC, says the organization has embraced a tremendous amount of change during the pandemic. This past year provided an ideal platform to innovate and continue in pursuit of programs with measurable results.

The organization hosted their second virtual global institute, one of the most highly attended events despite the covid pandemic, where they delivered the 2021 CLOC’s State of the Industry Report, industry trends, and showcased new technologies. Additionally, the State of the Industry Report, which captured responses from 200 organizations across more than 22 industries and 21 countries, revealed the average legal ops team is comprised of seven full-time legal ops employees, up from six reported in a previous survey. Fifty-nine percent of legal ops leaders report to the general counsel of the firm. In most firms, there is typically a healthy mix of internal headcount and contracted services. All this demonstrates a growing need for recruitment. There are five buckets most legal ops departments are focusing on: 1. Data Analytics; 2. Knowledge Management; 3. Organizational Design and Strategic Planning; 4. Service Delivery; and 5. Support Models, Technology, and Process Support. The survey results indicate there is room for growth on all fronts, and more resources will be added for optimization and efficacy improvements.

A session held at the virtual event discussed the industry report, and speakers touched on how, to scale a legal department and stave off the need for hiring full-time employees, some firms look to partner with other industry colleagues and consultants.

CLOC Board member Jennifer McCarron, Director of Legal Operations & Technology at Netflix, shared in the 2021 State of the Industry Q&A, that she has leveraged alternative legal providers, legal outsourcers, and technology partners, so she does not have to immediately ramp up 20 technical analysts. This allows her team at Netflix to analyze the company’s needs and plan carefully. There are also one-time expenses and budgets for unexpected events such as data breaches.

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