Legal operations in 2017: a story by numbers

Lauren Lee | December 28, 2017 | Articles

At SimpleLegal, we’re excited by and proud to be a part of the growing legal operations movement. To celebrate that growth, we’re sharing some of the top legal ops trends and statistics of 2017 that tell the story of this continuously evolving and important function. Here goes!

With the availability of modern and affordable legal technologies that are easier to implement than their clunky legacy counterparts, it’s no surprise that there are currently more than 700 startups attempting to disrupt the legal industry worldwide. (CodeX – The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics)

And it’s a good thing there’s new legal technology to streamline and automate manual processes. According to Microsoft research, lawyers still spend 90% of their day in Outlook and Word. It’s time to get lawyers out of their email and back to higher value legal work. (Legal Week 2017)

Fortunately, legal operations is emerging as the key function to support legal departments, and the company at large. In fact, the average legal operations team has twelve full-time employees with their tech of choice (83% of respondents) being legal e-Billing software to report on legal spend and ROI. (CLOC State of the Industry Survey)

The power and prestige of legal operations is neither theoretical nor anecdotal. According to the ACC, 65% of respondents now say that executive teams in their organizations “almost always” seek the legal department’s input on business decisions. (ACC Law Department Management Report)

Why is legal ops becoming such a strong ally to the legal department and overall organization? Legal ops specialists are using data to evaluate every potential opportunity for cost savings and are influencing how legal leaders run their departments. 46% of CLOs report that they either definitely (10 percent) or may (36 percent) terminate a law firm or outside counsel relationship with the intent to hire a new firm to perform the same work in 2017. (ACC Chief Legal Officer Survey)

In fact, for the first time since 2007, more in-house legal departments plan increases rather than decreases in outside counsel spending next year. (Altman Weil Inc.)

To stay competitive and provide valued services that help to position the law firm as a strategic partner to each client, 93% of mid-size and large law firms use some form of non-hourly billing. (American Bar Association)

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Legal Ops