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ANALYSIS: Legal Operations Remains a Mystery to Many Lawyers

May 3, 2021, 9:00 AM

In Bloomberg Law’s 2021 Legal Operations Survey, one-third of respondents indicate that their organizations have not adopted any specific legal operations practices. But can this really be true?

It seems more likely that lawyers do not understand what legal operations practices encompass. Unfortunately, this gap in understanding can limit the resources that organizations are aware of and result in less informed legal operations-related decision making.

Legal What? Translation Please.

Legal Operations is a relatively new field in law, but its core tenets have existed for as long as law firms and legal departments have been around. Understanding legal operations as a concept allows lawyers to know whether certain organizational practices fall within the scope of legal operations. This context enables them to seek additional information and legal operations resources to streamline and improve their organizations. Without this knowledge, they may pass up valuable resources and increase inefficiencies.

Organizations define legal operations differently (albeit similarly), but Bloomberg Law groups legal operations functions into six broad categories:

The use of legal technology, business management principles and practices, organizational planning, and even outside legal services are all part of legal operations. From a bigger-picture perspective, running a law firm in general and employing lawyers and support staff are parts of legal operations.

Because of this, it seems that most—if not all—law firms and legal departments certainly have adopted at least a few legal operations practices during their existence.

Nevertheless, many organizations do not believe that they have adopted specific legal operations practices, indicating there is still work to do in educating the field on the subject.

Resources Abound

Despite being a relatively new field, there is a wealth of information, data, and viewpoints about legal operations—often just a search away.

There are some easy steps that a lawyer can take to better inform their legal operations decisions: join legal operations groups, such as CLOC, Legal Operators, and ACC; engage with your bar association’s legal operations group; and ask other organizations about their practices.

Consider utilizing the legal operations materials and information at your disposal when implementing your next policy, selecting a legal technology service, or making a business decision. By better informing your organization’s legal operations practices, your organization will benefit from the experiences, knowledge, and research of others.

You might even be able to identify and select more legal operations practices when you participate in next year’s Legal Operations Survey!

Bloomberg Law subscribers can find related content on our In Focus: Legal Operations and In Focus: Legal Technology resources.

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