5 ways legal operations will help you get a head start in 2018

Lauren Lee | January 18, 2018 | Articles

The first weeks of the new year are buzzing with resolutions, but resolutions don’t have to be limited to personal or health-related goals. We see great opportunity for the legal operations role to drive positive change within organizations of all sizes. Check out these five ways legal operations can help you better manage your legal spend and be more efficient in 2018.

Download Legal Operations 101: A Blueprint for Modern Legal Departments and learn why legal operations is becoming an increasingly crucial role in the legal department. Plus, get strategies for building out your team (with sample job description included) and optimizing your process!

1. Spearhead Strategic Planning

Companies that kick off 2018 with goals to onboard or optimize a new legal operations function strengthen cross-functional collaboration. Legal operations acts as a strategic partner not only to legal, but to departments throughout the organization. A dedicated legal operations function will spend time working with finance, sales, human resources, engineering, and more, to better understand each group’s goals and how they work with legal. This ensures alignment across the organization and optimizes current processes for greater efficiencies.

At the end of last year, we interviewed Liz Way, Director of Legal and Compliance at Change Healthcare, who shared her thoughts on how today’s legal operations teams can influence strategic planning. “Build a strategy for how you want the organization to reach a specific goal; a six month, one year, and two year plan, for example. But you don’t just support one business unit, so your strategy should be focused on how to provide a value add and ROI to the entire enterprise.”

2.  Control Legal Spend and Support Financial Planning

What better way to start the new year than to get visibility into your legal spend? Legal departments often manage multi-million dollar budgets and leverage a variety of outside counsel, yet don’t have the resources or tools to manage law firm contacts, the project each firm is working on, and how much is being charged.

Legal operations can help you get a head start in 2018 by putting processes and systems in place, such as e-Billing and spend management software, which creates a system of record for the legal department to better track every dollar of legal spend. These solutions also help track accruals, ensure timely payment from vendors, and can integrate with finance and AP systems for streamlined workflows from invoice receipt to payment.

3.  Provide Insight into Legal Analytics

Legal departments of all sizes are leaving behind their traditional qualitative approach for more quantitative metrics. They’re using historical data to help identify goals for their department, creating a baseline to better determine metrics and KPIs for legal department success.

To be a data-driven and strategic department in 2018, legal operations can lead reporting and data collection efforts. In fact, many legal operations professionals are strategic thinkers, valued for their business acumen as much as their legal knowledge. They’re able to analyze legal data, allowing for more accurate predictions of future project costs and better control and management of overall legal spend.

4.  Manage Vendors and Law Firms

Any legal department that works with outside counsel understands the important role these vendors play in supporting, protecting, and reducing risk for the organization. What isn’t always understood is the importance of making sure you’ve communicated your expectations and overall goals for the work completed to your law firms.

This is where legal operations can step in to help manage vendors, facilitate payment for services rendered, and when possible, help each vendor better understand how they can do more for the overall business.

5.  Drive Technology Adoption

The cornerstone of an effective and efficient legal department is the adoption of legal technology. Legal operations often introduce modern legal technologies to their department, or create a process for evaluating current technologies for areas that could be enhanced or replaced.

Regardless of where your legal department currently stands with legal technology, legal operations can help plan for a successful 2018 by creating a technology roadmap. They’ll work with everyone on your legal team to determine the best options for evaluation, and facilitate the entire process from evaluation to implementation to user training.

Get Your Copy of Legal Operations 101: A Blueprint for Modern Legal Departments

For more on the foundation of strong legal operations functions and strategies for growing and optimizing legal operations within your organization, get your copy of our complete guide, Legal Operations 101: A Blueprint for Modern Legal Departments. Along with advice for growing your team and optimizing outdated processes, learn how legal ops can work cross-functionally with other departments and what you can do to set your team up for success!

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