“For most IHLs the pathway towards a better future necessarily comes down to something far less complicated than the “available budgets” – ultimately, it comes down to something as simple as “choice”, which costs nothing.”
The case for implementing a legal operations focus/competence is literally overwhelming – any legal department with two or more team members will benefit from a legal operations agenda.
The “highlight benefits” that a basic competency in legal operations can bring to your IHL and the business it supports include:
• Performance Leverage: achieving far greater support outcomes with significantly less consumption of financial resources and human/lawyer time;
• Strategic Focus: allowing lawyers to focus on enabling and driving the more strategic requirements of the business, including revenue generating projects;
• Impact: enhancing the IHLs focus on impact activities which enable the realisation of key corporate objectives;
• Purpose Validation: emphatic rebuttal of the historic notion that IHLs are cost centres that do not build or protect business value;
• Cost Control: delivering far greater transparency and predictability to legal spending and the management of financial resources;
• Fuller Resource Utilisation: the ability to visualise the full spectrum of existing resources and develop resource-specific optimisation plans;
• Technology Leverage: using technology to optimise and accelerate processes, limit unnecessary lawyer involvement in administrative and low-risk matters, enable client self-service and drive a richer QA function;
• IHL Tools: the deployment of IHL tools that promote optimal performance of business processes, output consistency and key data capture which in turn helps drive informed decision making;
• Data Insights: collecting and analysing data to enable informed decision making and to validate decisions and resource allocations/requests;
• External Partners: establishing performance managed relationships with selected external vendors/partners to maximise the value they deliver;
• Perpetual Improvement: establishing continual performance feedback loops to perpetuate cost, efficiency and performance improvements;
• Environmental Controls: delivering an enhanced ability to anticipate and plan for challenges before they arrive and respond with greater efficacy when they do arrive;
• IHL Career Diversity: broadening and diversifying the vocational pathways available to IHL team members well beyond traditional IHL norms – which in turn enhances performance and increases retention and satisfaction rates;
• Project Management: enhancing your ability to delegate project management to better placed and more appropriately priced resources;
• Business Enabling: the IHL team can enhance the “business-making” capabilities of every part of the business it supports, making it a vital business enabler;
• Risk Management: a far more efficient allocation and management of risk and monitoring of compliance obligations;
• Enhanced Resources: R.P.L.V. decision-making drives the increasing quality of departmental tools (e.g. existing precedents), and their recognition as being essential for delivering enhanced legal team performance;
• Internal Client Relationships: greater engagement with internal stakeholders, delivering an improved internal client relationship and overall engagement, particularly as internal client service levels start to improve;
• IHL Morale: marked increases in IHL team morale, resulting in a more energised and engaged workforce; and
• IHL Value Recognition: by achieving maximum legal resource leverage, legal operations help to promote the legal function as a key part of the overall fabric of the organisation.
How readily can the benefits of legal operations be realised?
The short answer is “very readily” – it just takes IHL leaders to make the decision to “get on with it”.
Fortunately, for those IHL leaders willing to embrace IHL Transformation, the challenge is not nearly as great as it might appear at first glance due to the following factors:
• Systemic Inefficiencies: much legal industry activity has been traditionally conducted in such an inefficient fashion that achieving massive productivity gains from existing resources is actually not that difficult;
• Legal Innovation: we all now operate in an environment that offers a steady stream of new technologies and innovations, which increasingly make substantially elevated IHL performance imminently feasible; and
• Self-authorship: self-authored change is always more effective – few will know your business and all of its foibles as well as you - and such change will be recognised as “initiative”, not corrective action imposed from above.
The reality is that the level of inefficiencies that exist inside most IHLs means that even the most basic legal operations agenda can, without much effort, activate many of the above benefits.
The options to create IHL efficiencies are myriad – there is real cause for excitement about the many foundational steps that are still to be taken and which can massively drive performance improvement across all IHLs.
Added to this is that the benefits of bountiful legal technology developments come at a time where the increasingly technology savvy Millennial generation is assuming increased IHL leadership – and they will choose change.
So for most IHLs, the pathway towards a better future necessarily comes down to something far less complicated than the “available budgets” – ultimately, it comes down to something as simple as “choice”, which costs nothing.
• Preparing a basic operations agenda is something any legal team can do
Even in the face of an overwhelming case for change, we all recognise that lawyers, whether by dint of genetic pre-disposition, or vocational conditioning, are not always known for the agility of their decision making.
As such, for IHLs to benefit from legal operations, the process starts with a willingness of IHL leaders to embrace and champion in the initiative – unless of course they have already lost the ability to shape the future of their IHL.
As such, in Part E we want to spend some time examining what IHL transformation can mean for IHL leaders - clearly anything new comes certain risks, including risk that can be personal in nature:
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