I landed back in the UK from the Consero Legal Operations Summit in Dallas, Texas buzzing about the Legal Operations professionals I had the pleasure to share a conference space with. I promised people who couldn’t attend that I would record some learnings for all to share. As Mindcrest specializes in privacy regulations, I will keep these anonymous, suitably generic and a mix of things we experienced both during the panel sessions and during our one-to-one sessions with clients whose valuable time we really appreciate.
1. You've Got to Have a Plan
It is clear that Legal Operations personnel are at various stages of their company journey. Some are at the data gathering and discovery stage. Other, more seasoned professionals were wanting to benchmark themselves against their peer group and were more than happy to share their successes and failures. Finally, a small minority didn’t quite know what they wanted to achieve other than to "make things better" for the legal team and other business functions where they worked. This group struggled to articulate their problem cases and simply wanted to know what other companies are doing. We spent some time with these people explaining how to establish a Legal Operations strategy that was aligned to the strategy of their organisation, how to convert this strategy into a series of actionable goals and how to evaluate what to do first. Any good Legal Operations consultant can help people work through and frame a plan of action, supported where necessary by the business case to get supporting budget.
2. You Cannot Fix Everything, Everywhere, All at Once
When you eventually manage to articulate the things which you can influence, you then should prioritise what you can START, STOP, CONTINUE and CHANGE. The key here is not to try and fix everything all at once but rather pick a few things and do them well. There isn’t really a blueprint for this, and different people had different ways of tackling this. Some look for the quick wins whereas others fill the Legal Ops "jar" with small, quick projects and perhaps one or two big ones. My preference is to be a bit more forensic about prioritisation and score the opportunities for making things better on an effort vs impact basis. If something is low effort but high impact, then it should be at the front of the queue.
3. Become a Corporate Hero
Impact can be supercharged if it positively affects functions cross-business. If a contracting solution can close sales faster, then that is a win for both Legal and Sales. To advance your Legal Ops mission, start by asking what is the thing that Legal Operations can do to lean into organisational goals. Again, think and act big and follow the money! If what you do can save money or make money quicker, then the business case is virtually pre-written. Consider whether your actions will a) Improve Efficiency b) Reduce Cost c) Reduce Risk or d) Improve Quality and Consistency. If they will, then - if you ask in the right way - your organisation should support these.
4. Think About the Other Benefits
When considering Legal Tech, an underestimated benefit is the amount of data that is collected using the system. Some systems are good at doing this automatically whereas others require effort and real planned focus…
5. … But it’s Not JUST all About the Tech
There was a large amount of tech vendors at the conference and a lot of interest in what this could do, particularly around the current and future role of AI. Companies need to be careful to ensure that the legal tech they employ is fit for purpose and fits with the organisational tech roadmap. A big part of the role of a Legal Operations professional is to create an environment where legal tech will flourish, and user adoption will be optimised.
There are two main points here. Firstly, there is a LOT of pre-work to ensure that you are solving the problems in the right way, not least because legal tech needs optimised processes, scale, budget and time. The second point relates to how much time and effort you put into the implementation. Please treat the carefully considered purchase of the tech as the first rung of the ladder as there is a direct correlation between the amount of time that is spent on change management and the successful roll out of a project. Do nothing but plug and play and you will get a PATELP (a Poorly Adopted, Tech Enabled, Lousy Process).
6. Rapid Fire Round
This conference was chock full of great information and other smaller takeaways, including:
- Spend plenty time engaging with key stakeholders and, in particular, make IT and Finance your friends. Explain what you are doing, why and what support you need.
- Identify your allies and early adopters and make them ambassadors for your success stories.
- Potentially run a low-tech, easy-to-implement Proof of Concept to establish your business case before seeking larger funds.
- It is okay to fail (if you learn from it).
- Don't lift and shift into tech. Spend time and effort refining and optimising processes before anything else. If you don't know how to do that then you should engage consultants who can help – it will be money very well spent.
To learn more about how Mindcrest can help you on your Legal Operations journey, contact Craig Chaplin here.