What You Missed at ‘Legal Ops 101: A Framework for Modern Legal Departments’

Lauren Lee | February 8, 2019 | Blog Posts

SimpleLegal and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) partnered to host an informative webinar titled Legal Ops 101: A Framework for Modern Legal Departments. Moderated by Nathan Wenzel, CEO of SimpleLegal, this webinar featured legal operations experts from Koch Industries, BeiGene, and Workday who shared their knowledge and experiences on:

  • What a strong legal operations team looks like
  • How best to collaborate with other departments
  • Best practices for leveraging technology for automation, efficiencies, and data collection
  • What the future holds for legal operations and legal technology

Now, let’s dive into the key topics that were covered.

What a Strong Legal Operations Team Looks Like

Kim Radek, Director of Legal Operations at Koch Industries, broke down the key characteristics of a strong legal operations professional:

  • Mentally and emotionally strong
  • Have an entrepreneurial mindset
  • Be willing to take risks
  • Being familiar and comfortable with technology

Surprisingly, background and experience wasn’t the first thing on Kim’s list. She also explored what constitutes a strong legal operations team:

  • Champion key issues that impact the entire department and beyond
  • Excel at working cross-functionally
  • Ensure solutions are continually managed (not a one-and-done)
  • Have the will to seek out more efficient processes, and are given the authority to make changes

How Best to Collaborate with Other Departments

The next speaker, Eric Ortman, Senior Director of Legal Operations at BeiGene, spoke to the importance of cross-functional collaboration. He covered topics like cultivating and maintaining support from key groups like Finance, IT, and Compliance, and how these relationships help to fine-tune the development of process and systems within the legal department.

Another important point he covered was to create liaison roles – people who focus on building and managing the “bridges” to other departments. To do this successfully, he shared key steps for success:

  • Know your organization well, especially which groups are driving work
  • Build mutual trust and keep them involved
  • Position them as advocates for your project or initiatives

Best Practices for Leveraging Technology for Automation, Efficiencies, and Data Collection

Up next was Frances Pomposo, director of Legal Operations at Workday. She said data and technology are critical to a successful legal operations function since it optimizes processes to reduce errors, increases time-savings, and enables you to track department and vendor performance. Ultimately, technology helps to reduce administrative tasks to help lawyers focus on high-value legal work, helping the legal department be more strategic and achieve business objectives.

One key point she made was that you need to fully understand the requirements before starting your search for technology. This means proactively creating a technology roadmap and understanding why specific requirements matter for individual stakeholders. She recommends starting with the requirements, then assessing the technology by asking a lot of questions of the team as what they think they need may not actually be what they need.

Frances’ last piece of advice – don’t be afraid of the past. It’s important to utilize lessons learned from past experiences with technology, so don’t be afraid to ask what’s been done before.

What the Future Holds for Legal Operations and Legal Technology

And last but definitely not least, Laura Pickle, CIO and Discovery Director at Koch Industries, delved into the current state of legal operations and legal technology. Some of the trends she’s noticed are:

  • SaaS (software as a service) is replacing on-premise technology
  • Automation is prevalent
  • A.I. (artificial intelligence) is continuing to grow

Since data is more accessible than ever, it’s important to mine your data for insights in order to make data-driven decisions. She also notes the demand for legal operations has exploded and is now a necessity for legal departments to achieve business objectives and success. Tying with some of the trend she’s noticed, she expects automation and A.I. will become an integral part of legal operations, helping the legal department be better strategic business partners.

So what can you do to prepare? Laura recommends:

  • Staying up-to-date on what’s going on in legal technology – don’t stick with a technology solution just to maintain status quo
  • Maintaining good relationships with technology vendors and open lines of communication
  • Keeping a pulse on the technology you use and revisiting your requirements on a regular basis to understand if the solution is still meeting your needs

More Insights into Legal Ops and Legal Tech

It was an absolute privilege to host such a knowledgeable and experienced panel of legal operations experts! A big thank you to ACC and all of our speakers for a successful legal operations webinar!

While we were only able to recap a portion of the insights covered during the webinar, check back for the recorded video of the session and subscribe to our blog to get the latest in legal operations delivered to your inbox each month!

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