By Matt Ryan, Legal Files Software Senior Consultant
In the previous blog post we discussed legal operations as a buzz phrase. Rather than being a new and intimidating concept, legal operations refers to a multidisciplinary approach to optimize legal services delivery to a government entity, university or business. This approach involves 12 core competencies.
- Litigation support
- Cross-functional alignment
- Strategic planning
- Financial management
- Vendor management
- Data analytics
- Technology support
- Service delivery
- Knowledge management
- Growth and development
- Records management
These 12 aspects encompass everything that your legal department needs in order to deliver superior legal services to the university, government agency or company (enterprise) that you serve. As we mentioned before, this might seem overwhelming to organize, but you can find tools to help. When your department implements effective enterprise legal management, you can streamline workflow, automate processes, manage information and improve reporting.
After 25+ years of helping legal departments, the Legal Files Software team has discovered eight steps to a successful implementation of legal operations. This article will cover the last four steps of this important process.
Step Five – Managing the Information
You’re no stranger to the massive amount of information that comes into a legal department. From documents and emails to contracts and institutional knowledge, it can be difficult to keep all of this information in a single, organized location. However, it is critical to keep all data and documents where everyone in the department can easily access them. It is just as important to maintain strong security measures for this information. It might seem like an impossible task to accomplish all of these goals, but it can be easy with enterprise legal management.
After successfully implementing legal operations, you will find that all of the information you need is easy to input, organize, search for and track. No longer will you need to dig through a home-grown system of network drives to find what you’re looking for. An enterprise legal management system will allow your department to easily find and retrieve the documents and data you need.
You may be wondering how you can find the right system for your department. The Legal Files Software team has nearly three decades of knowledge of the best practices in legal operations that we can use to direct you to the right legal operations software. Your legal department can also look to other departments to learn from their successes and failures. Another great way to see the latest and greatest in legal operations is to attend legal conferences, such as the 2018 Annual Corporate Legal Operations Institute in Las Vegas.
Step Six – Get Reporting in the Dashboard
Although most people first think of case law and words, reporting and data analytics are surprisingly important to the modern practice of law. Legal departments need to take data and meaningfully analyze it for both daily and big picture reporting. Each legal department will have different reporting needs. A legal aid organization will not need to track the same information that a university does while a corporate legal department will have very different tracking needs than a government agency.
Earlier in the legal operations implementation process, you will have determined what your legal department needs to track. Using this information, you can determine what type of enterprise legal management software is right for your department. You’ll want the most critical pieces of information to appear directly in the dashboard so that you don’t have to dig for them and you can access them with just a glance.
Visiting a legal conference or speaking with an enterprise legal management provider can give you a clearer idea of what is available and what solutions will work best for your specific legal department. You want to find the best fit for your enterprise before you commit to a program.
Step Seven – Consider ROI
ROI, or return on investment, is a popular phrase in both the corporate and the legal worlds. This little phrase packs a big punch and encompasses several different measures, including workload, spending versus savings, risk management and response time. The right enterprise legal management system can provide metrics to determine the value that is being provided to the organization. It can also help the organization avoid potentially costly issues. For example, with the growing number of harassment complaints in industries across the country, successful legal operations can help an organization prevent wrongdoing and mitigate risk.
Speaking to legal professionals in different organizations and meeting with representatives at legal conferences can help you see the value that the right enterprise legal management system can offer to your organization. If you’ve struggled with any of the above-mentioned issues in the past, you’ll further understand the value of such a system.
Step Eight – Facilitate Organizational Change
Switching to a new enterprise legal management system doesn’t happen overnight–or at least it shouldn’t. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Such a transition needs to happen gradually to ensure that the change is as positive and streamlined as possible for the organization and the staff. This gradual process ensures competency and high adoption rates.
Legal Files Software takes the approach of partnering with a legal department to guide its employees through the multistep process. The goal is to slowly make changes and move to the next step once the department has mastered the previous step. By rolling out just a few features at a time, legal department employees can build competency before moving onto more complex features. The complexity of the system is determined by the needs and objectives of your legal department. The system is designed to manage what matters to you.
If you missed the first blog in this two-part series, be sure to go back and review it. You can also visit Legal Files Software at the 2018 Annual Corporate Legal Operations Institute in Las Vegas to learn even more about how the right legal operations can change your legal department