Editor’s note: This is an installment in the “Reference Manual of Legal Tech Lists,” an eBook set for release this spring. Read the prior installments here, and feel free to pre-register for your copy of the complete eBook using the form below.
Legal operations has the potential to serve as a powerful tool for problem-solving in a General Counsel’s arsenal, provided that we overcome prevalent false beliefs.
UpLevel Ops created this list of nine widespread misunderstandings GCs have about legal operations.
- Legal operations professionals are ‘just support staff.’ One of the most common misconceptions about legal operations professionals is that they are simply administrative assistants. In reality, legal operations professionals are highly skilled and strategic professionals who work closely with the general counsel to develop and operationalize the legal department’s strategy. They optimize legal department operations, manage legal spend, streamline processes, and implement technology solutions.
- Legal operations professionals are unnecessary for smaller legal departments. Another misconception is that legal operations professionals are only necessary for large legal departments. However, legal operations professionals can help any legal department improve efficiency, reduce costs, and better manage risk.
- Legal operations professionals only focus on technology. While technology is an important aspect of legal operations, legal operations professionals also have expertise in process improvement, project management, data analytics, and vendor management.
- Legal operations professionals are a threat to the traditional legal role. Some may view legal operations professionals as a threat to the traditional legal role. However, legal operations professionals work closely with attorneys and other legal professionals to help them work more efficiently, allowing them to focus on higher-value legal work.
- Legal operations professionals are not needed for regulatory compliance. Legal operations professionals can play a critical role in helping legal departments manage regulatory compliance requirements by implementing effective compliance programs, managing risk, and providing data-driven insights to inform compliance strategies.
- Legal operations leaders should be paid less than attorneys. Legal operations leaders play a critical role in the efficient and effective functioning of a law department, often serving as the backbone of the organization. They are responsible for managing legal processes, implementing technology solutions, and driving innovation, all of which are essential to the department’s success. They possess a deep understanding of the legal industry and highly specialized skills and knowledge. Given their contributions to the organization, it is no longer unusual to see them earning the same amount as the other direct reports to the General Counsel.
- In tough times, it’s a better idea to cut legal operations heads first. Legal operations professionals will know department and company spend better than anyone else and in more minute detail and can help GCs think holistically through budget and staffing challenges. In tough times, the smart move is to double down on operational projects to drive revenue and company efficiencies.
- Legal operations professionals are just there to service legal department needs. A key part of a successful legal operations role is representing legal in project collaborations with other teams around the organization to drive overall company objectives. Think about it: If Sales and Finance both have operations teams and no legal operations person is at the table, do you think decisions will be made with Legal’s needs considered?
- I don’t know what a legal operations person would do for my team. If you carefully consider just how much of the work and how many different types of work are needed to run a successful legal department, you have your answer. Much of this work does not fall within the practice of law — for example, budget planning and management, outside counsel spend management, technology infrastructure including litigation infrastructure and data analytics, onboarding, event management, facilities management, staffing and vendor management, data management, strategic planning, practice operations or process design. Legal operations teams can be a critical part of a GC’s strategy for ensuring Legal plays a key role in the organization.
Fill out the form below to pre-register for your copy of the complete “Reference Manual of Legal Tech Lists,” which will be sent to all registrants later this year! And as a bonus, registrants will receive a copy of the “Legal Tech-to-English Dictionary” from Above the Law and Wolters Kluwer — another piece of our growing legal tech reference library.
Stephanie Corey is a co-founder and CEO of UpLevel Ops. Stephanie also co-founded LINK (Legal Innovators Network), a legal operations organization exclusively for experienced, in-house professionals. She previously founded the legal operations trade organization CLOC (Corporate Legal Operations Consortium) and is a former executive member. Please feel free to contact and connect with her on LinkedIn.
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