5 legal operations trends to pay attention to this year

Lauren Lee | February 11, 2019 | Articles

Fueled by fast-paced growth and demand for greater efficiency in the legal department, there’s no doubt that legal operations is here to stay. Whether you are a legal operations professional, thinking about taking on an operational role, or are just curious about how legal ops is impacting in-house teams, here are 5 trends to pay attention to this year so you can prepare your strategy and stay ahead of the curve!

1. Running the Legal Department Like a Business

Many of today’s legal teams are under pressure from the C-suite and the greater business to demonstrate the value of the legal department and prove that it’s not just a cost center. To achieve this, legal needs to become more quantitative.

That’s where legal operations comes in – they’re leading the charge to help the department become more data-driven by setting up technology systems to capture metrics that help uncover:

  • Where process improvements can be made
  • Cost savings and best cases for leveraging alternative fee arrangements
  • A baseline for evaluating current vendor relationships

2. Rising Legal Operations Strategies

Legal operations is one of the first in-house roles that doesn’t require a legal background, thus appealing to a broader audience comprised of business professionals from a range of backgrounds and experiences. Increased interest, coupled with the growing need for dedicated legal operations professionals across companies of all sizes and industries, has created demand within the legal department that must be met.

In fact, “Law schools are starting to offer dedicated legal ops and legal technology coursework, creating graduates that are more equipped to face modern legal challenges,“ according to Stephanie Lamoureaux, Legal Operations Lead at Square.

So how does this impact the industry? Salaries for the legal operations function are on the rise. Want to see how you compare?

3. Expansion of In-House Legal Teams

After years of cuts, legal budgets are finally on the rise, and 81% of legal departments expecting their legal needs to increase in the next year. Dive into the statistics and download our Top 5 Trends Impacting Legal Ops white paper.

As a result, organizations are expanding their legal teams to bring the work in-house, often prioritizing the hiring of legal operations professionals to manage spend, budgets, technology, and vendors, while bringing more organization to the department to increase efficiency and overall productivity.

4. Focus on Outside Counsel Relationships

Legal teams have always worked with vendors, but in recent years, there’s been greater focus on optimizing these relationships to ensure the legal team is getting the most value from the firms they’re working with.

For legal teams that work with dozens of vendors, legal operations professionals have emerged as the dedicated point of contact, helping to effectively manage relationships with legal vendors and set processes in place to evaluate and score these vendors against the department’s needs and expectations. This can result in benefits including but not limited to:

  • More accurate spend predictability
  • Securing better rates or determining appropriate AFAs
  • Reducing spend and saving money
  • Stronger relationships with outside counsel because expectations are clear

5. Investments in Legal Tech

Implementing legal technology is one of the fastest ways to help legal departments scale and streamline processes as the department continues to evolve and grow. While there’s buzz around AI, the foundational tool that every legal department should have is a legal operations management platform. These systems provide management of all matters, a clearer view into legal spend, as well as data and reporting to inform decisions that drive strategy, productivity, and vendor evaluations.

Get Your Copy of the Top 5 Trends Influencing Legal Ops in 2019

For a closer look at the numbers and industry responses to the above mentioned trends, download our white paper, Top 5 Trends Influencing Legal Ops in 2019.

Legal Ops Statistics