Legal Ops and the Changing Law Department
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It’s difficult to absorb how much the world around us has rapidly changed in a few brief years. Among those changes, we have seen an accelerated growth and demand for all things digital. Many organizations have begun working through modernization initiatives, while others have it on their roadmap. A recent survey of 1,200 mid to large-scale US companies revealed that digital transformation worldwide is expected to reach $1.78 trillion in 2022.<sup>1</sup>
This forward momentum has had many positive impacts on our daily lives, but it has also exposed serious vulnerabilities within organizations across all industries and business segments, particularly with information management.
The Love/Hate Relationship of Legal and Legacy
Legal is an industry that has historically been resistant to change. In the past, in-house legal departments, and law firms alike, have not wanted to share their sensitive content in the cloud. Instead, they wanted to have the safety net of knowing their content was on their premises, secured within their own perimeters and without the risk of the dark unknown that was so often associated with early cloud adoption. But that opinion has shifted. To maintain a competitive advantage, many in legal have chosen to move forward with digital transformation initiatives that have long been placed on hold. 80% of companies report operation improvements within the first few months of adopting cloud tech.<sup>2</sup>
The pandemic, in a big way, helped shape these decisions. The most notable change for organizations was the pivot to remote work. Business continuity became a sudden reality and companies were met with many obstacles. These challenges were due in part to outdated technology not designed to integrate with modern systems, or securely connect across platforms.
The Great Value of Legal Ops
Legal departments operations (LDOs) help empower in-house legal teams by contributing valuable strategy, insight, and technical expertise to better serve their companies and partnerships. LDOs are the lifeline of driving legal workflow efficiencies so in-house counsel can focus more time on actually practicing law to move projects and matters forward. The core discipline for legal ops is how to make things better; and while change is often difficult, it is imperative for businesses to continuously evolve as technology advances and markets respond. 70% of LDO respondents say their job is primarily change management.<sup>3</sup>
In a recent webinar around this topic, hosted by the Blickstein Group and in collaboration with Deloitte, the panel discussed key findings from the 14th Annual Law Department Operations Survey. The LDO survey provides valuable insight into many of the critical success factors of effectively managed corporate legal departments.
From the survey, LDO respondents were asked for their most important key performance indicators (KPIs). The top three on the list were:
- Actual spend vs. legal department’s total budget (42.6%)
- Value provided to the corporation (36.1%)
- Customer/client feedback (32.8%)
Matthew Hemmert, General Counsel at NetDocuments, was among the experts on the panel. The group discussed the value of LDOs being at the forefront of the movement for finding new and innovative ways to improve processes for changing law departments. Matthew was asked for his insight on the KPI results from the survey:
"The KPI’s used to be all about how much we have been spending, or how much budget have you eaten through, how much more are you going to ask for in 2 months, and how far are you going to go over that amount? So, to see #2 on the KPIs from the survey as value provided to the organization – I think that ties down into productivity, collaboration tools, and other things - rather than the true ‘are you hitting the monetary thresholds you’ve been given?’ Because if I go over that threshold, I’ve just diminished my organization – and that’s the old way of looking at things, even though we still see that as #1 on the list, costs, is significant as well. When I first went in-house in 2008, cost was absolutely the singular KPI. We never had discussions around the value, savings, timeliness of contracts closed, the time from quote to cash and all of these other things – those add value."
In any industry, you need an operations role for technology to truly take off. And while many in the legal industry are looking for opportunities to transform, legal ops professionals will lead that charge. Legal Ops are a critical component of legal technology truly making an impact for organizations, and in a world where so much depends on technology, the immense value of LDOs is finally being realized.
Are You Moving Forward?
Technology adoption has increased across the entire legal space, from corporate in-house to outside counsel and within the public sector. For some, preparation for disruption had been proactively established with modern technology already in place. These companies made the shift to virtual operations much more seamlessly and efficiently in comparison to those who were caught off guard.
We are in an era when customer and workforce expectations have never been higher. Leaders have been forced to rethink priorities, or risk being left behind in the tight race to be the best. As a result, the adoption of modern, cloud-based technology is on the rise, and for good reason.
Cloud-driven solutions can help organizations efficiently deliver differentiated products and services with advanced capabilities for secure remote access, speed, and agility – just to name a few. Cloud computing has as endless list of benefits that are not commonly found with aging technology. Legacy systems often struggle to provide the enhanced user experience of modern document management platforms. And with users being well-aware of advanced technology that can help make their lives easier, the advantages of the cloud are not only essential, but they are also expected.
Ask yourself: Is your company rising to its full potential? At NetDocuments, we are changing the way legal professionals do work. Trusted by 3,500+ companies, NetDocuments is your cloud-first, cloud-only enterprise content management solution to secure, organize, and collaborate on everything that matters to you. Find out why top legal departments are increasingly making the switch to the NetDocuments.
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