In part one of our four-part blog series on legal operations, we looked at some of the key reasons why legal operations have remained so important for corporate counsel teams. The need for in-house law departments is clear as crystal in a complex regulatory landscape – even compliant enterprises face perpetual liability risks.
In part two of this series, we addressed the main pain points associated with creating a modern legal ops department: Poor accommodations for the type of collaboration that’s necessary for these new business units to optimize operations and generate a return on investment. Proprietary enterprise intranets simply can’t supply the streamlined people-finding functionality that legal ops need in order to tap into the in-house expertise. The primitive, basic search queries of yesteryear (i.e. title, department, branch location) hardly supply the level of insight that legal ops need to turn their in-house law departments into a well-oiled machine.
And in part three of our series, we looked at the cornerstone of collaboration for corporate counsel. There is no industry, vertical or enterprise department that is impervious to cyber-threats, be they insider negligence, careless data governance, email phishing scams or something else.
In this last chapter, we put all of these parts together to supply a glimpse of what an optimized in-house legal operations team looks like, and the role that an expertise location and knowledge-sharing platform like The Firm Directory plays in this high-functioning department.
Making every dollar count
According to the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Chief Legal Officers 2016 survey, 53 percent of enterprise CLOs are now spending more money on internal legal resources (53 percent of their budget allocation) than external resources (47 percent). The inclusion of legal ops teams to support all legal-related functions is a strategy that Corporate Counsel contributor Monica Zent believes will save money long-term.
“Though it may seem counterintuitive, an investment in legal operations specialists, who take on tempering legal costs as a primary part of their work, will allow legal departments to better weather the current turbulence,” Zent wrote. “They will also ensure a leaner, better-equipped organization for the long run when the industry picks up again.”
A word of caution: These “tempering legal costs” cannot be left up to chance. Zent noted that the only way an enterprise can achieve tangible ROI from building up its legal ops teams is by incorporating technologies that can streamline efficiency. Fail to make smart investments in the right legal tech tools, and risk relinquishing the edge your CLO and supporting staff have worked so hard to mold. Making every dollar count is less about reducing overall spend than increasing overall value.
So what exactly does an effective legal ops department look like? Mainly, it should do all of the following:
- Improve velocity within operational workflows.
- Limit the need for spending on external counsel.
- Ensure that any necessary outsourcing is handled strategically and securely.
- Eliminate, or significantly curb, risks associated with legal collaboration.
- Make the absolute most of the expertise and in-house resources.
This all sounds simple enough in theory. In practice, it requires a system that puts all of the resources for legal ops teams, as well as the attorneys they support, into a single, intuitive platform.
Enter The Firm Directory
“The Firm Directory packs a lot into a single offering.”
To be fair, expertise location and enterprise collaboration platforms tailored to the specific needs of in-house corporate counsel aren’t exactly in abundance. This isn’t shocking considering the rejuvenation of in-house attorneys and supporting legal ops teams is a fairly recent trend (within the past few years).
Much like a strong in-house legal operation, the best way to assess the value of an enterprise collaboration platform is by its total cost of ownership, and The Firm Directory packs a lot into a single offering, including:
- Experience Finder/Role-Based Search: Allows for quick, in-depth searches for in-house expertise (as well as outside counsel) based on extremely granular parameters like division, language, case history and location.
- Secure Collaboration: The Firm Directory provides internal and external collaboration that is as secure as it is intuitive, enabling a knowledge-sharing platform that houses an organization’s tacit knowledge.
- Case Communities: Makes it possible to share sensitive case files and other classified information with stakeholders, internal and external, by creating specialized groups.
- People Pivot: Enables the creation of custom directories of lawyers according to very specific areas of expertise, from which their professional profiles can be quickly accessed, and outreach can be easily initiated.
- Mobile Web App: Perform any of the above functions from a smartphone or tablet with web-based functionality.
With all of these features at play, it’s easier to optimize a burgeoning in-house legal operation. The trifecta of a strong law department is made up of easy location of the necessary expertise and resources, secure collaboration and maximization of legal resources. The Firm Directory supplies all of this (and more).
This is part four of a four-part series about optimizing your in-house legal operations.
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