In times of economy uncertainty or turbulence, the legal field can be significantly impacted. When faced with this challenge, the first thing many legal firms may be tempted to do is cut costs by reducing legal operations headcount, but this isn’t always the smartest decision. By utilizing the principles of legal operations, organizations can work towards cost savings as a key priority using more strategic methods that can benefit the organization in the short term, as well as avoid putting the business at risk in the long term. Here are four ways leveraging legal operations can actually help organizations navigate tough times, while maintaining productivity and efficiency.
- The importance of establishing a core set of values and mission for the legal department can’t be understated, especially in times of economic volatility. According to a 2023 Axiom Survey Report, GCs agree that having these values in place makes it easier for them to navigate challenges. They recommend that a mission statement be thoughtfully crafted and codified, acting as an enduring “North Star” for the legal department. By adhering to this structure, the entire organization is strengthened. And as the report indicates, in-house surveys have also demonstrated that having a mission statement in place can actually reduce the negative impact of economic stressors on the mental health of legal team members.
- Having the right technology in place can be helpful in ensuring your organization is running as smoothly as possible during difficult times. The explosion of generative AI is ushering in a new era of unprecedented technologies that will be not only more powerful than their predecessors, but also easier to use and implement. In addition, legal operations professionals are positioned to be an important AI prompt engineering resource for legal departments. Those educated on how to effectively use conversational AI can provide help with document review and analysis, basic content generation, and other routine administrative tasks. Utilizing these emerging technologies can allow legal departments to handle a larger volume of work without needing to add additional headcount, which can be difficult to get approval for during economic downswings.
- The field of legal operations was built on streamlining processes and maximizing resources, which is especially valuable when resources are scarce. By automating repetitive tasks and enabling smoother, faster workflows, a company can spend less while speeding up the process of closing deals and in turn generating revenue more quickly.
- Strong vendor management is also key during these uncertain times. By building beneficial relationships with legal service providers, organizations can maximize efficiencies and minimize costs. Negotiating favorable contract terms, consolidating vendors, and using strategic partners can help streamline processes and improve outcomes.
Overall, it is recommended that leaders in the legal field understand that seeking short-term gains by implementing easy cost-cutting measures can undermine more effective long-term strategies that provide the organization with strength and stability. By leveraging and enabling legal operations, legal firms can remain resilient even in tough times.
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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