Legal operations have become an increasing priority as organizations prioritize finding new ways to increase efficiency in the legal department. Legal operations teams are responsible for several responsibilities, including technology investment, metrics, management of legal expenses, strategic planning, compliance and risk assessment. To stay on the transformation path, the legal department needs to take a more business-like approach, which is why having a mature legal operations team should be a top priority for many organizations. But how do legal operations teams fit into all organizations? Hyperion’s MarketView 2021 report on corporate legal management provides insight on this topic.
The Hyperion Research report contains valuable insights into how the market views the role of Legal Operations Teams. Not surprisingly, the pandemic presented unique hurdles, as legal operations managers had to quickly shift priorities and make unanticipated decisions about people, strategy, and vendor partnerships. Almost 60% of legal operations managers surveyed said technology investments had been halted. It was an equal split between shrinking and postponing investments in new legal technologies. While some viewed this as a temporary hurdle, the majority of respondents believed their legal technology budgets would suffer long-term effects. Since an element of uncertainty will be present over the next few years, some long-term strategic objectives will need to be reconfigured to accommodate flexibility. This could include the suspension of lower priority investments, exploration legal staff partnerships and increased use of collaborative tools for remote work.
Looking beyond the pandemic and focusing on how far legal operations have come to maturity, the report revealed perceived weaknesses, but with a clear path to bridging the gap between perception and the ultimate goal of become a transformational business partner. While it’s true that legal operations teams have moved from being an advisory only role to one that is also rooted in leadership, many still don’t see these teams as an equal partner. The report concluded that the market appears to view legal operations as a ‘work in progress’, with 41% of executives finding improved business operations, but only 23% concluded that their legal operations teams have a strategy and vision. well developed. In the company survey, 25% appreciated the legal department and 21% said the legal department was more than just a service for them. At first glance, these percentages are surprising. But by examining the operational metrics followed by legal operations teams, it becomes clear that these sentiments do not mean legal operations teams are not delivering value. They are still on the way to becoming a transformational business partner both internally and with external vendors.
Break down metrics
The report looked at legal spend, process / efficiency, workload / utilization and diversity from a quantitative perspective (ranked according to most tracked metrics). Qualitative performance captures value, results / results, benchmarks and quality. Looking deeper into quantitative and qualitative performance measures, 13% of respondents did not track qualitative measures at all, and those who did represented only a small fraction of 33% or less for each category. These figures are significant and speak volumes. Without qualitative measures, business leaders do not have enough intelligence to help them make strategic decisions. Simply put, legal operations Teams and the business as a whole need to track things like results and quality to fully understand what is working and which areas need a more refined strategy or where to shift investment priorities. When this becomes a more important focus, legal operations teams will be able to offer more than just tactical information and better anticipate investment needs, even in times of uncertainty.
Simply put, all of this means that many organizations seem happy with how legal operations teams improve business operations and strategic planning when they focus more on creating value for the whole business based on the consistency and quality of the data. This will help legal operations teams continue to move towards greater operational efficiency and be seen as a more equal partner. The report concluded:
âThis shift in mindset also requires a shift in approach, increasing the importance of capturing the attributes most important to the business, such as quality, value and results. By adding qualitative metrics to the quantitative metrics already in place, Legal Ops teams have the opportunity to improve their operational framework and redefine service delivery to the business. Additionally, newly collected qualitative data becomes a valuable part of the strategic planning process, providing baseline data that can lead to the development, execution and evaluation of long-term plans.
Legal operations teams should take this into consideration and start changing their approach. Develop a plan on how to take into account the current and anticipated effects of the pandemic and adjust investment decisions accordingly. In addition, develop long-term plans so that new investments or partnerships that can generate value for the organization can be adopted and implemented quickly. Proper planning and tracking of more qualitative metrics will undoubtedly propel legal operations teams into a more widely respected role within their organization and improve overall strategy and components of the operations vision.
To download the full Marketview report, click here.
The content of this article is intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions.