Hiring a legal operations professional is a significant milestone for many legal teams. It demonstrates that you’re looking to optimize outdated processes, streamline operations, and increase efficiencies both internally within your department and externally with departments across your organization and your law firms.
Uncharted territory? No problem. In our latest guide, Legal Operations 101: A Blueprint for Modern Legal Departments, we stress the uniqueness of the legal operations function in comparison to other roles within the legal department. Plus, we provide best practices for growing a legal operations team, optimizing and modernizing outdated process, and operating as efficiently as possible.
Business Person First, Legal Advisor Second
A key differentiator of a legal operations professional is their business management experience. Unlike other roles within the legal department, a law degree is not required to be successful. Instead, look for the following characteristics when hiring your first legal operations professional.
- Business-minded – Since this role will heavily influence operations and efficiency, as well as how the legal department interacts with vendors and other departments within your organization, it makes sense that you hire someone with business chops to get the job done.
- Strategic – Legal operations leaders are often hired to be strategic partners to the General Counsel; advisors who understand the legal industry but place more emphasis on successful business outcomes than their attorney counterparts. You’ll want to look for someone who sees the bigger picture and is able to work collaboratively with all departments within the organization to meet departmental and company-wide goals.
- Data-driven – The best strategy is driven by data, making it important for any potential legal operations candidate to be comfortable diving into the numbers. Legal operations functions also work in-step with finance to prepare month and year-end budgets, provide accrual data, and ensure compliance with financial requirements and SOX so data analysis is a must-have characteristic.
Legal Operations Job Description
To provide legal departments with a starting point for adding a new legal operations function to their team, we’ve included a sample job description for the Legal Operations Manager position below. Modify the description to your department’s needs and current team structure, and don’t forget to get your copy of Legal Operations 101 – a comprehensive guide that’s already been downloaded by more than 800 legal departments of all sizes and from all industries.
Legal Operations Manager
Mountain View, CA
We are seeking a highly motivated and detail-oriented individual to join our growing legal team. The position will work closely with the general counsel and business stakeholders at all levels of the company. As our legal operations manager, you will be key in creating processes and practices to improve the day-to-day efficiency and effectiveness of the legal team, facilitate change, and control costs.
This is a generalist role that involves managing and supporting projects across the full range of subject matter supported by the legal team. You must be able to adapt to changing priorities and business needs, and must be proactive in identifying areas of need and generating action plans.
- Define and drive strategic and operational initiatives with on-time and on-budget results
- Report on key operational and substantive metrics for the practice group that will better inform decision-making, including matter and work product analyses
- Identify and implement legal department tools to streamline new or existing practices, as well as manage design, rollout, and training for new systems.
- Develop and enforce processes and policies to manage outside counsel usage and spend
- Assist with budget matters and optimizing workflows within the legal department
- Collaborate with cross-functional teams including sales, support, service, business development, regulatory, IT, and finance as well as well as various business units
- B.A or B.S. required
- 3+ years of experience with legal project operations and management in-house or at a law firm (both preferred)
- Prior experience developing playbooks and policies
- Demonstrated ability to independently move projects forward by gaining support needed from others while working in a cross-functional role
- Proven track record of collaborating with cross-functional groups (e.g., Finance, Operations, Sales, IT) to set objectives and produce meaningful results
- Strong experience in developing, implementing, and using legal department technology solutions (e.g., SimpleLegal e-Billing and matter management, IPfolio IP management, Docusign e-signature)
- Excellent analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills
- Able to thrive in a fast-paced environment and successfully manage multiple deadlines