What Legal Operations Does and How It Gets Results

We were honored to be one of the contributors to the “Legal Operations: Getting More from In-House Legal Departments and Their Outside Counsel” study by the Boston Consulting Group and Bucerius Law School. While Legal Operations is typically known for being a new function or role within a law department, law firms are now hiring legal operations professionals or contracting with law companies like Nimble to have professionals internally to “talk the legal operations talk” with law departments.

This quote from the study really sums up the importance of legal operations to legal organizations:

Our study findings send a clear message: Legal operations is garnering increased attention, and for good reason. It helps legal departments overcome the daunting challenges facing them, and can transform those departments into even more valuable strategic partners to their organization. Enterprises that have successfully set up a legal operations team are already seeing measurable business benefits—including higher-quality legal work, impressive time and cost savings, and greater ability to retain top legal talent.

And while this quote focuses on benefits to a law department, we think these benefits can also be realized by law firms that focus on legal operations. Just yesterday, Baker McKenzie announced the addition of two additional (and prominent in the legal consulting space) people to its growing legal operations team with the mission to re-engineer the law firm’s delivery of legal services. Legal operations is not a fad. It’s bringing the business of law to the practice of law.

The study gives a great overview of the key things that a legal operations function does for a legal organization. Here are some quick bullets but you should read the study for more in-depth discussion:

What Legal Operations Does

  • Vendor Management

  • Risk Management

  • Knowledge Management

  • Finance/Budgeting Management

  • Technology Management

Legal Operations Has 5 Enabling Levers

  • Data Analytics

  • Technology

  • Strategic Planning

  • Intra- and Inter-Functional Collaboration

  • Process Standardization and Optimization

Legal Operations Generates Measurable Business Results

  • Higher Quality Legal Work

  • Improved Resource Efficiency

  • Improved Legal Risk Profile

  • Better Talent Retention