By: Kassi Burns, Esq., RCA
VP of Legal Professional Services, Cobra Legal Solutions
In this installment of the CLOC Global Institute series, I’m sharing key takeaways from the session Strategic Planning for New Legal Operations Leaders. In this post, we look back to the beginning of the legal operations journey with guidance by Rachita Maker with Tata Communications. In her session, she shares her experience as a new legal operations leader.
Similar to many statements made in previous sessions, Rachita begins by reminding us that legal ops is a continuous and collaborative journey. Collaboration must be made within the legal department and other departments (IT, finance, marketing) and groups (vendors). The recommendations discussed in this session can be used by all legal departments, regardless of a company’s size, as most of these challenges run true whether your company is a small start up or an established multinational organization: doing more with less.
From a planning perspective, Rachita began with a 30/60/90 day plan. This gives structure to your integration plan. Begin by looking at bigger themes and build around them (e.g., processes and tools) and then looking at sub-functions and stakeholders. Leverage the identified stakeholders, across multiple departments, to help devise strategies for those plans.
As you move from 30 to 60 days, plans should become more detailed. Initially focus on process in those first 30 days then use the next 30 days to detail those processes. Identifying early wins (e.g., lunch and learns for the legal department) can help build credibility within your legal department. In tandem with that it is important to avoid over-promising. As the new person in legal ops, people will come to you with their pain points. It is important to not slip into solution mode, but instead stay focused on process during these early days. Understanding internal legal department dynamics should be a priority ahead of external relationships.
Moving from 60 to 90 days and onward, where the focus moves to solution mode, use of the SWOT analysis will help you identify processes and areas of improvement. Looking into automation and AI tools to create time and cost efficiencies should be considered but it’s important to remember that sometimes a simple tweak to an existing process can lead to significant cost savings.
For anyone new to their role, there are some key building blocks of legal operations to consider: improve processes, drive automation, build a metrics-driven organization, increase communication and collaboration, and enhance external relationships. Leveraging these will help with some of the challenges that affect all legal departments, such as controlling legal spend and establishing knowledge and process management systems.
Creating an execution plan for legal operations strategy can set the stage for successful solution implementation. Start by establishing the corporate objective, then the functional objective, and then on to goals, target completion dates, and review process. This plan should also include the project owner, key stakeholders, cross-functional teams, milestones, and key actions. Setting out an execution plan can then be used to set legal operations priorities.
We hope this installment on sessions from the 2020 CLOC conference provides insight and guidance from leaders in the legal operations space. As legal departments face more challenges, collaborating with colleagues to find paths of efficiency is more important than ever for successful legal ops implementation.
If you missed it, check out the first installment in this blog series, Contract Data Storytelling: Key Takeaways – CLOC 2020 Global Institute Snapshot