Onit is once again a sponsor of the Legal Department Operations (LDO) Survey. In its 12th year, this survey is the leading barometer for trends in legal operations. Onit Founder & CEO, Eric M. Elfman, contributed an article to the survey results package. Please read that article below and download the full survey results here.
Driving Disruption in the Legal Department: Legal Ops and Technology Lead the Way
By Eric Elfman
Legal operations is all about optimizing the legal department’s ability to grow and protect the company it serves. As such, legal departments are seeking a higher level of operational excellence. This is evidenced by their embrace of innovation, increased demand for automation of repetitive tasks and a workflow-centric approach and understanding of how to use technology to create operational wins.
Driving efficiencies and containing costs are two key reasons that legal operations is important and is growing so quickly. Legal departments were forced to adopt a more operationally focused mindset as a result of the Great Recession. The 2008 downturn was so severe, and efficiency and cost-cutting were considered so critical to the survival of the business at large, that it was no longer acceptable to spend freely. Since then, C-suites have increasingly been making their law departments behave more like other business units. This ultimately led to the rise of a profession dedicated to bringing business discipline to the law department: legal operations.
Legal department operations professionals (LDOs) handle the management of vendors, systems, strategic planning, technology, knowledge, financial issues and the myriad other tasks that plague the legal department. Legal operations are all about optimizing the legal department’s ability to support the business and is a multi-disciplinary function that optimizes legal services delivery by focusing on twelve core competencies. The competencies, developed by CLOC, are divided among three levels: foundational, advanced and mature.
Cost control and cost management have always been among the legal department’s greatest challenges. Economic downturns in recent decades served to exacerbate the “do less with more” mindset. In order to meet these intensifying challenges, many departments began increasing the workload of existing resources or bringing on more in-house lawyers. Others have built and started executing technology roadmaps. Technology has been optimizing legal operations in several key areas. Workflow and automation of processes deserve a spot at the top of the list. Data analytics is also important, as analytics can demonstrate the value of technology in the department and the value of the legal department to the business. Technology is assisting with the competitive bidding process on certain types of cases. Automating many routine tasks can shave hours off any busy schedule. Collaboration using technology gives a whole new meaning to “working together.”
Today’s state-of-the-art technology allows all stakeholders from anywhere in the world – including legal departments, other service providers, and members of the corporation’s accounting team and business units – to be on a single platform. Technology will increasingly play a prominent role, as more LDOs are discovering they can better fulfill their mission by leveraging well-chosen technology solutions to automate processes, track legal spend and deliver key decision-ready information. The increasingly robust alliance of legal ops and technology is now helping to forge the future of legal operations in amazing ways we could never have imagined a decade ago. Onit purpose-built our technology platform to help drive this alliance and enables customers to execute their technology roadmaps over time.
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