Legal department operations (LDOs) have gained immense popularity, with legal departments realizing the need and importance of having legal operations professionals on the team. With growing expectations from legal departments to operate like a business, reduce costs and optimize resources, manage hundreds of contracts and complex compliance regulations; having a Legal Department Operations (LDO) manager has become an urgent need for the legal department to be able to cope up with the expectations while promptly handling responsibilities. This has made the LDO a position of interest with the role evolving all the time and becoming more and more central to the smooth functioning of the legal departments.
In order to handle the pressure and responsibility of running the legal department like a profitable business and maintaining positive relationships with all stakeholders, LDOs need to have a certain set of skills to deliver successfully. Let’s discuss these below:
1. Collaborate effectively
Legal departments operations (LDOs) are the link connecting legal departments with the rest of the organization. They are responsible for making the other departments understand the role and importance of the legal department and creating a smooth flow of communication between departments. The LDOs are not just responsible for internal relationships alone but often have to collaborate and develop lasting relationships with external vendors as well. All departments seek the help of legal teams for contract management including contract authoring, reviewing, negotiating and post-award analytics and compliance management. By effectively collaborating with the other departments and developing a strong rapport with varied teams, the LDOs increase the efficiency and visibility of legal departments, reduce friction between departments and make coordinating with the legal department easy and effortless.
2. Be a torch-bearer for innovation
The need for LDOs has increased significantly in recent times with increased expectations from legal departments and ever-changing technology landscape. In such a scenario, it is important for the LDOs to be ready for change and have an innovative and open mindset. Legal operations should be aware of the latest changes and technological advancements in the market, narrow down the most suitable technologies and be able to propose innovative ideas to keep the legal departments at par with the rest of the organization. Many tools like e-signature, advanced contract lifecycle management, e-billing, etc. should be considered to aid legal teams, automate simple tasks and achieve greater efficiency, transparency and better contract compliance despite the ever-changing regulatory landscape.
3. Handle budgets effectively
One of the most important functions of legal operations is to handle the budgets for the legal department and to get a budget approved where there isn’t one. Legal ops need to understand the current and past budgets, plan for process and technology upgrade, reshuffle resources for increased efficiency, and think ahead to advocate what’s best for the department. The LDOs then need to convince the finance team for an appropriate budget that would benefit the department as well as the organization in the long run.
4. Learn and develop best practices
Legal operations professionals are the harbingers of best practices and need to continuously keep a track of and pick up the latest industry best practices. They need to always be on a lookout to improve the working of legal departments and develop appropriate best practices to ensure the same. With contracts forming a large percentage of corporate legal department’s responsibilities, following industry and peer best practices can ensure a lower risk of manual errors and non-compliance. Furthermore, to ensure employee satisfaction and nurture the internal talent, they should plan and execute appropriate CEC and re-skilling trainings for their departments.
5. Evaluate key performance indicators (KPIs)
One quality that the legal ops professionals should cultivate is to have a COE mentality driven by KPIs. Developing measurable KPIs or metrics is the most effective way to measure and quantify the performance and success of a department. By configuring key performance indicators, the employees have a benchmark to reach for and have a direction to work towards. Moreover, pre-configured KPIs (a feature in CLM software) make it easy to monitor contracts’ performance and ensure all contracts are on track. KPIs can also be used by the legal ops professionals to streamline processes, measure success and alter course effectively to achieve success.
These top 5 skills make legal operations professionals indispensable and help them manage their department effectively and profitably. With ever-growing responsibilities and expectations from the legal department, the time is ripe for legal ops professionals to hone their skills and be ready for the ever-evolving and challenging role their profession demands.