Three Examples of In-House Legal Operations Excellence

It’s no secret that in-house legal operations faced a 2020 that was anything but business as usual. As the pandemic stretched on for far longer than anyone expected, companies found new ways to do business, accommodating employees who were now working from home and implementing technology solutions that would streamline processes and replace manual tasks and in-person activities.

In-house legal operations professionals took the lead at many companies to figure out how to see organizations through the pandemic. In some cases, this meant overhauling processes and procedures that had been in place for years or even decades. Simply put, legal operations teams became the masters of the new normal.

Following are three examples of how legal operations flipped conversations from uncertainty to success during challenging times.

1. Building a Technology Roadmap for Legal Success

Even the world’s most well-established corporations faced unprecedented challenges and found new ways to surpass them.

When the pandemic hit, fast-food giant McDonald’s made responding to it and helping employees adapt top priorities. The McDonald’s in-house legal operations department placed other company goals aside if they didn’t immediately contribute to its crisis response. Their first step was to survey the organization’s various business and legal teams to identify their technology needs and wish lists. From there, legal operations created an aspirational roadmap for getting the most effective technology into the hands of the company’s global teams.

Three overriding needs emerged from the survey:

  1. A rebalancing of workloads
  2. A reduction in workloads
  3. A means for self-service

Using sophisticated platform technology, the legal operations team created systems to address each of these needs – ones that were flexible enough to quickly respond if needs shifted or changed. At the end of the day, a platform approach allowed McDonald’s to build the workflow and collaboration solutions needed to respond to the COVID crisis and keep the company moving forward.

To listen to the McDonald’s story, visit here.

2. Embracing Enterprise Legal Management

Handling domestic business was hard enough for most companies during the pandemic. But corporations with an international presence faced additional unique challenges – especially if they didn’t have the right technologies.

Jaguar Land Rover North America (JLRNA) is a perfect example. As a multinational corporation, JLRNA routinely has to respond to international legal service requests. Unfortunately, though, they lacked the technology to do it efficiently during the onset of the COVID-19 crisis.

JLRNA’s in-house legal operations team acted quickly to implement a sophisticated enterprise legal management solution that was customizable, allowing them to track and manage all the different areas of the company in the ways they needed to. Within the enterprise legal management system, they also created a document repository for storing contracts and capturing contract data and a system for submitting legal service requests. By replacing rudimentary matter management processes with an ELM solution, JLRNA legal operations provided the company with a seamless transition to a new way of doing business that could adapt.

You can hear JLRNA share their journey in this podcast.

3. Adapting Existing Solutions to Meet New Problems

Much of the focus in discussing how organizations navigated recent challenges has been on the adoption of new technologies. For some in-house legal operations, though, the answer was to leverage tools and solutions that had already been implemented. That was the case for publishing company Pearson.

Pearson had already implemented a comprehensive contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution to help contain costs. In 2020, that CLM solution served as the foundation for Pearson’s legal department to create the Transaction Services Center (TSC), an effective means for handling high-volume, low-risk standard agreements. This freed up internal counsel to focus on more complex agreements and activities that helped support the business. Having a comprehensive CLM solution enabled Pearson to better handle legal service requests, review and approve contracts, and respond to legal advisory requests, at the same time achieving savings, increasing efficiency and gaining unprecedented visibility into contract portfolios and internal workloads. The results were so impressive, Pearson won the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Value Champions Award.

You can hear Pearson’s story here.

No one can predict for sure when the pandemic and its effects on business will end. Until it does, in-house legal operations professionals will continue to play a crucial role in guiding their organizations to success. The stories above are just a few perfect examples of how ingenuity and technology make that possible.

You can read more about corporate legal departments transformations in this eBook:

Lean Into LegalOps: The Ultimate Guide to Legal Operations in the New Normal and Advice from Transformative Corporate Legal Departments.

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