Implementing Legal Ops in Your Corporate Legal Department

— Juliet Edjere

For many lawyers, the term "legal operations" can conjure images of faceless efficiency robots zapping the soul out of the legal practice. I get it.

Coming from a legal background myself (though now happily ensconced in the tech world), I understand the apprehension. But here's the thing: legal operations (or "legal ops" for short) isn't about sucking the life out of law – it's about making it more effective, efficient, and yes, even more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Think of it this way: legal ops is like that amazing legal assistant you always dreamed of having. The one who anticipates your needs, streamlines workflows, and frees you up to focus on the high-value strategic work.

Sold? Let's dive into some best practices for implementing legal ops in your corporate legal department.

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Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

Define Your Goals: Start with the "Why"

Before diving headfirst into legal tech, take a step back. What are your department's biggest pain points? Is it skyrocketing legal spend? Maybe it's drowning in manual contract reviews? Identifying your goals will help you tailor your Legal Ops approach.

For example, if efficiency is your main concern, consider automating contract lifecycle management. This frees up lawyers for strategic negotiations and reduces the risk of human error.

Building Your Legal Ops Dream Team

The next step is establishing your A-team. Now, this doesn't necessarily mean hiring a whole new squad of specialists. You can leverage existing talent or consider a hybrid approach. Here are some key roles to consider:

  • Legal Operations Professional: This person (or team) is the quarterback, overseeing process improvement, technology implementation, and data analysis. Think project management meets data wizardry.
  • Legal Project Managers: These project managers keep track of deadlines, budgets, and resources, ensuring everything runs smoothly.

Measure Twice, Slice Once (Data is Your Ally)

Metrics are your friend. Track key performance indicators (KPIs) like turnaround times, legal spend, and matter resolution rates. This data allows you to identify areas for improvement and demonstrate the value of legal ops to the business.

Embrace the "People + Process + Tech" Triangle

Legal Ops isn't just about fancy software. It's a three-legged stool where skilled people, optimized processes, and the right technology work together.

  • People: Don't worry, robots aren't taking over the legal profession (yet!). But you do need the right people in the right roles. Consider establishing a dedicated Legal Ops team or upskilling existing staff.

  • Process: Take a good, hard look at your current workflows. Are there bottlenecks? Redundancies? Legal ops thrives on clear, documented processes. Standardize what you can – think contract approvals or eDiscovery procedures. This not only saves time but also ensures consistency.

  • Technology: Legal ops isn't just about people – it's about harnessing the power of technology. There's a whole universe of legal tech solutions out there, from contract management platforms to AI-powered due diligence tools.

    From contract management software to legal research platforms, there's a plethora of tools available to automate repetitive tasks and improve communication. Don't be afraid to explore – but remember, technology is a tool, not a replacement for good legal judgment. Choose solutions that complement your existing processes and team skillsets.

Change Management: It's Not Always Easy

Let's be honest, change can be scary. Transitioning to a Legal Ops approach might require a shift in mindset for some lawyers accustomed to the traditional way of doing things.

Here are some tips for a smoother transition:

  • Communication is Key: Clearly communicate the benefits of Legal Ops to your team. Communication and buy-in from legal leadership are crucial. Show them how it will make their lives easier and allow them to focus on more strategic work.
  • Start Small, Scale Up: Don't try to overhaul everything at once. Pilot a new technology or process in a specific area, and then expand based on success.
  • Celebrate Wins: Recognize and celebrate the positive impact of Legal Ops initiatives. This will help build buy-in and momentum within your team.

Change is a Journey, Not a Destination

Implementing legal ops is a marathon, not a sprint. As your department's needs evolve, so should your Legal Ops strategy. Regularly assess your processes and technology stack to ensure they're still aligned with your goals.

Expect bumps in the road and resistance from some. Focus on the benefits – increased efficiency, cost savings, and happier lawyers!

My Personal Take: A Win-Win for Everyone

As someone who understands both the legal world and the tech world, I believe legal ops is a win-win. Coming from a tech background, I see Legal Ops as a natural progression. It's about leveraging the power of data and technology to make legal departments more efficient and effective.

While there might be some initial resistance, the potential benefits are undeniable. It allows lawyers to practice law the way they were meant to – strategically and creatively. And for the business? Streamlined processes, better cost control, and a legal department that functions as a true partner.

So, embrace the change, and who knows, you might just find yourself enjoying the legal world's version of a tech upgrade, and watch your corporate legal department become a master of efficiency.


I'm Juliet Edjere, a no-code expert focused on design, product development, and building scalable solutions with no coding knowledge.

I document all things product stories, MVP validation, and how designs, data, and market trends connect.

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