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Legal Operations

When Should I Start Investing in Legal Operations? Hint: You Already Are

We don’t need legal operations yet.

We’re too small for a formal legal operations manager.

We’ll wait until our department has matured before considering legal operations.

We don’t have budget to invest in a legal operations platform.

If you’ve said any of the above at one time or another, I challenge you with a simple question – Why?

Legal Operations Isn’t ‘New’

Let me start by saying that legal operations has been around for longer than you might think. Our friend Liz Way, former Operations Director of Legal and Compliance, shared that early in her career, legal operations was generally referred to as an office manager within the in-house legal department. There wasn’t a lot of technology, so the job was primarily focused on making sure the day-to-day operations of the legal organization ran efficiently.

Fast-forward to today and the legal tech landscape has grown exponentially with legal operations evolving alongside. It’s now a highly-respected and strategic role that’s responsible for everything from strategy and vendor management to staffing and budgeting.

Innovative groups like CLOC and ACC Legal Ops, along with a wave of industry thought leaders and legal technology providers, are amplifying the voices of legal operations professionals and demonstrating the extreme value they provide to the legal department.

A Path Walked Before

Some may be hesitant about the rise of a formalized operational function within legal, but it is not unchartered territory (and definitely not a fad).

I know from experience. I started my career in what is now referred to as marketing operations and saw a similar transformation.

Over a decade ago, before the formal title of marketing operations in many organizations, marketers like myself were tasked with developing processes, building a data governance program, managing and implementing technology,  and having an overall ‘finger on the pulse’ of everything going on in the department.

A quick timeline for comparison:

Sound familiar?

3 Levels of Legal Operations

Just because you don’t have someone on your team with the formal title of ‘legal operations’ doesn’t mean you aren’t already investing in it! Just like in my experience, you probably already have someone who is focused on the technology you use as well as the processes you are building and enforcing.

That being said, the question I challenge you with now is — How mature is your legal operations function?

At SimpleLegal, we like to think of legal operations in three levels:

Interested in Learning More about Legal Operations?

Check out our comprehensive guide, Legal Operations 101: A Blueprint for Modern Legal Departments or head over to www.simplelegal.com. SimpleLegal is a leading legal operations management platform, helping modern legal departments run a more efficient legal department.

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