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Corporate Law Departments

In Practice Sidebar: How General Counsel can maximize the value of legal ops

Rose D. Ors  CEO of ClientSmart

Rose D. Ors  CEO of ClientSmart

Operational excellence is the disciplined approach to getting work done faster, smarter, and more efficiently. Proactive general counsel empower their legal operations team to help deconstruct and then redesign the work that should get done and by what means. These general counsel also understand that they must signal their full support for these change initiatives.


Check out our In Practice interview with Donny Ching, leader of Shell’s Global Law Department, about how his department leverages the value of its legal ops


Below are six ways general counsel can enable their legal operations team in the law department’s journey towards operational excellence:

      1. Sponsorship — Provide visible, active, and consistent support of both adaptive and transformational change initiatives. One powerful way to signal the importance of the legal operations role in the law department is to have the head of the legal operations team report directly to the general counsel and be a member of the department’s leadership team.
      2. Culture — Encourage bold, creative thinking by establishing practices that encourage the team to “shoot for the stars.” Reward outcomes tied to performance goals while also communicating that failure is part of innovation.
      3. Talent model — Build a team of professionals with diverse mindsets and skills by adopting a multi-disciplinary talent model that includes, among other roles, project managers, pricing specialists, designers, technologists, digital design specialists, data engineers, and data scientists. Proactively identify what new skills and disciplines the team needs to continually innovate and improve.
      4. Team pairing — Bring together different teams with diverse ways of approaching the same challenge. Like individuals, different groups bring their specializations and biases with them. A healthy exchange of rival approaches can lead to a wider lens and richer levels of creative problem-solving. Examples include pairing legal operations teams with business units like finance, procurement, or IT. It also includes pairing teams of lawyers and paralegals with legal operations.
      5. Standardize & automate — Embrace what is today the most rapid and cost-effective way to scale legal support: the standardization and automation of commodity work (such as high-volume, low-risk, low-value work). Automation is a strategic lever that frees lawyers to focus on higher-value work and moves the law department closer to being digital-ready.
      6. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) — Leverage analytics in decision-making and performance management. Work with the team to establish or revise KPIs to track department performance tied to the business’s growth goals (for example, accelerating the contract review process). Do the same to manage, track, and benchmark the operating performance of outside counsel. Combined with other metrics, KPIs provide a lucid picture of the value obtained from all legal service providers.

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