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Jul 19, 2022

Legal Operations: 3 Ways to Materially Influence the Enterprise

Although certain perceptions between Legal and enterprise employees may seem fathoms apart, that only speaks to the remarkable opportunities to deeply connect, materially grow, and further protect your business.

Tucked within an 18th-century ode to transformation penned by historian and scholar Thomas Gray is a familiar saying: “Ignorance is bliss.”

Many of us, however, are not aware of how that famous poem ends: “ …where ignorance is bliss / ‘tis folly to be wise.” Read in its entirety, this line is not so much an excuse to avoid the truth for the sake of happiness, but rather a reflection on embracing the unexpected. Because ready or not, change will come knocking.

Recently released, chapter two of the Enterprise Legal Reputation (ELR) Report, a multinational study spotlighting how legal professionals perceive their interactions with internal clients, revealed that while 73% of Legal cites positive relationships with its internal clients, only 60% of enterprise employees feel the same. Similarly, Legal reported greater connections with every department than employees did: IT (78%), Procurement (76%), Sales (74%), and Marketing (73%) for Legal as opposed to just 38% for IT, 37% for Procurement, 43% for Sales and 37% for Marketing for employee respondents. And though nearly every legal professional (95%) considered their department efficient in managing service requests, three in five employee respondents (59%) characterize Legal as “inefficient.”

What accounts for these incongruities? This perception predicament — where what one sees does not necessarily match what exists — presents an undeniable Iceberg Effect.

Sometimes, what we don’t know can hurt us. But while Legal may only be seeing part of the equation, the ELR report also uncovered untapped potential and opportunities glittering below the surface for legal operations to shine a beacon on everything from topline revenue and innovation to competitive differentiation, brand image, and corporate culture.

Here are three ways Legal can melt the Iceberg Effect and connect more deeply across the enterprise:

1. Spark faster sales cycles.

Nearly seven in 10 (68%) legal professionals feel they excel at helping Sales effectively close urgent deals, and more than half (56%) of enterprise employees acknowledge that Legal jumpstarts sales and revenue operations.

Legal, by its very nature and trade, is directed by precedents. Its main purpose is to provide risk mitigation and enterprise stability. However, as an authority figure and natural business protector, Legal also has the power to be an extraordinary change agent. Time, as they say, is money. And by examining processes and developing optimized, forward-thinking policies, Legal can accelerate business growth and revenue generation by securing deals faster so that more can be made.

2. Ignite an inclusive culture.

People are the heartbeat and lifeblood of an enterprise. Innovation and intelligent solutions require creativity, communication, and the collaboration that comes from clever and varied voices.

The right competencies on a team are also required for true and lasting accomplishment, but in this era of “the Great Resignation,” employee retention is proving a major issue. Half of all legal professionals (49%) believe recruitment and talent retention require improvement (49%), and more than one in three (35%) respondents point to a need for better workload planning for the sake of operational efficiency.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives have consistently been linked to stronger work quality and competitive differentiation, and three in 10 legal professionals (29%) believe their companies are making DEI a priority in 2022. More than half (52%) also say they are increasing diversity via vendor partnerships, and in the United Kingdom especially, hiring practices are beginning to show incredible diversity. A more connected, values-driven culture can thaw the Iceberg Effect in a truly meaningful way.

3. Navigate the latest in tech.

In addition to hiring and retaining talented people, another necessary transformation for Legal to melt the Iceberg Effect and achieve material success is the integration of innovative technology, including contract lifecycle management (CLM), eBilling, and matter management tools that embrace automation, machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI).

However, half of all legal teams globally deem their current technology insufficient (47%) and outdated (46%) – despite the desire to streamline inefficiencies and boost productivity.

So, what’s holding up Legal’s tech revolution? Nearly half (44%) of legal professionals admit their department is averse to change, 39% blame a lack of budget, and 25% say they simply do not have time to learn new technology. Perhaps most surprising, and simultaneously concerning, two-thirds (67%) feel executives are unsupportive of Legal’s modernization, even if it means providing better client service and customer experience.

Although finding and incorporating the right tech can be a challenge, identifying recurring pain points and wish lists, devising an enterprise-wide implementation plan, and working with an experienced partner — as well as ensuring data security, privacy compliance, and a best-practices cybersecurity response plan — can provide tremendous operational cost savings and efficiency.

Steering your enterprise towards greater success

Ignorance is rarely bliss. In the end, it is knowledge that is power.

By banking on collaborative partnerships and insights to accelerate sales cycles and generate topline revenue, procuring diverse service providers and vendors to build an inclusive culture, and dissipating the gap between “old school” legal practices with the introduction of modern digitalization, Legal can demonstrate a distinct impact on materiality and efficiency and further protect, promote, and elevate its brand.

Even more, Legal will melt the Iceberg Effect once and for all, extracting new opportunities to connect more deeply throughout the enterprise, delivering exceptional business acumen and innovation, and evolving into a true leader to support and inspire the next generation of law.

Read the ELR Report to learn more about how legal professionals view their relationships with internal clients in comparison to the image enterprise employees have of their legal departments.

*The ELR Report is a third-party, multinational study of 4,000 enterprise employees and 500 corporate legal professionals across the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany intended to showcase relationship dynamics and perceived image between corporate legal teams and enterprise organizations.

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