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10 Ways to Transform your Legal Department

Dec. 3, 2015, 8:00 PM

Editor’s Note: The author of this post is the CEO of Mitratech, a provider of legal and risk management software.

By Jason Parkman, Chief Executive Officer, Mitratech

In the wake of the economic recession, many corporations have faced increased scrutiny into their financial decisions. Higher expectations, decreased budgets, and a growing workload are prevalent in every function of the organization, but legal departments have experienced the greatest shift in these dynamics over the past decade.

Once seen as cost centers, corporate law departments have shifted their reputations from that of an inefficient cost of doing business to driving value for their entire organization. In this era of innovation, the general counsel has become a trusted advisor on the executive team and acts as a valued business partner, driving positive bottom-line business results by optimizing legal spend and performance.

Given these dynamics, legal departments are looking for a blueprint to handle these increased expectations, so we recently published a whitepaper, Ten Ways to Transform Your Legal Department: A blueprint for becoming the best-run business unit in the organization .

This article briefly summarizes five of the ten ways to transform your legal department, but download the whitepaper to read all of the best practices and tips from leading legal departments and industry experts.

  1. Visualize and Measure What Success Looks like

Creating a vision of success means deciding which metrics should be captured and developing a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to drive that vision. KPIs should be measured daily, weekly, monthly, and annually to decide what is working and what is not.

  • 2. Hire a Director of Legal Operations Focused on Operational Excellence

From our vantage point, we are seeing our top performing legal departments (those with high innovation, incredible efficiencies, and massive decrease in annual legal spend) implement and utilize a dedicated director of Legal Operations. Without a doubt, the need for this position has reached its tipping point.

  • 3. Embrace Innovations in the Legal Services Model

According to Eyal Iffergan, Founder of Hyperion Global Partners and Hyperion Research, “Investing in process management technology is one way law departments do more with less while codifying policy, standardizing procedures, and ensuring compliance with corporate mandates. Technology can help identify and minimize risk.”

  • 4. Think Globally

The power of compliance resides in the legal department, so the general counsel must act as a key advisor and partner to the global organizations. In our previous white paper, “ General Counsel: The Global Corporation’s Next Agent of Change ,” we heard from Sonya Bland, Director of Technology Solutions for the Global Legal Department at HP. “Understanding the real requirements of each individual country is very hard but paramount to success,” advises Bland.

  • 5. Create a Legal Technology Roadmap through Collaboration with IT

We often come across companies that want to become more strategic with the use of an advanced legal management solution. However, without a systems roadmap in place many legal departments find themselves working in a cycle of short-term needs, thus never accomplishing their long-term goals. In order to structure communication between the IT department and legal operations, a technology roadmap is designed to act strategically when making an investment decision.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, the scope for in-house legal departments’ responsibilities has expanded greatly in recent years. General Counsel are asked to advise on subjects that spread beyond pure legal analysis, providing an opportunity for in-house lawyers to use business judgment as well as legal knowledge.

Taking the above steps certainly requires commitment and time from the entire team, but the road less traveled provides a wealth of reward. Those that truly invest in creating a best-run legal department have thoughtfully capitalized on these changes to drive innovations in the industry. This department-wide transformation creates tangible results through improved efficiency, enhanced productivity, and increased business value for the entire organization.

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