Legal operations: everything you need to know

Legal teams are swamped with work. The 2021 EY Law Survey states that 76% of law departments find it challenging to manage current workloads.

That’s where legal operations comes in handy, helping the legal department to do more with less, by optimising and making legal more efficient.

A lot of businesses have recently jumped on the bandwagon and established a legal ops function. Numbers speak for themselves:

Whether you are looking to establish a legal ops function or planning to scale one, this guide is your go-to source. In this piece, you’ll find everything you need to know about the topic today. 

We will cover:

  1. What is legal operations?
  2. Legal operations roles and responsibilities 
  3. Why you must digitalise your legal department
  4. Legal operations technology
  5. How to build the legal function in a scaleup

What is legal operations?

Legal operations is a function that supports, enables, and optimises the in-house legal department. They plan legal functions, boost tech innovation, and bring value to the entire organisation. 

This is how our CEO, Nils-Erik Jansson defines legal ops 👇🏼

If you boil down legal operations in one word, I would say it’s efficiency.

Nils-Erik Jansson
Co-Founder & CEO

Our Legal Engineer & Compliance Manager, Jenny Hall, adds 👇🏼

To me, legal operations is everything that is not “standard” legal work like the actual contracting or negotiating.

Jenny Hall
Legal & Compliance Manager

Legal operations roles & responsibilities

No two legal operations teams are alike. Depending on the industry, company growth rate and many other factors, legal ops roles can be defined differently. 

Yet, a common way to structure your legal ops team is according to the following breakdown.

Legal counsel function:

  • Reviewing & negotiating contracts
  • Creating contract templates
  • Conducting legal research
  • Providing any kind of legal advice

Legal operations function:

  • Responsible for contract management
  • Enabling legal & compliance reporting
  • In charge of legal & compliance project management
  • Providing any kind of legal & compliance training

The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC®) surveyed more than 200 organisations and revealed some of the most common titles a legal ops leader may have. These include Legal Operations Director (27%), Legal Operations Manager (23%), and Head of Legal Operations (9%).

When it comes to the responsibilities of a legal operations professional, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. After the first year in legal ops, our Legal Engineer & Compliance Manager Jenny shared her reflections:

Legal operations responsibilities will vary depending on the company. Every legal operations role is different, and may focus on different areas, like financial management, or the use of technology. For me, legal ops starts and ends with finding where legal is inefficient and handing over the solution or new process to the legal team. Those inefficiencies depend on their context.

Jenny Hall
Legal & Compliance Manager

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