Legal Operations: Are you heading in the right direction?!
The rapidly changing legal landscape offers great opportunities to improve the way legal departments work. That is: if you know where you are going. Otherwise you’ll be flying blind and throwing money out of the plane. So, what about you? Are your legal operations aligned with the company’s strategy? Are you heading in the right direction?!
In my previous blog I stressed the importance of a step by step approach and suggested the following steps to undertake:
1. Align with the company’s strategy
2. Design the legal services map
3. Define the desired state of the legal function
4. Perform an assessment of today’s legal function
5. Design the legal operating model
6. Implement the model
Align with the company’s strategy
General Counsel need to align their legal operations with the company’s strategy to add greater value. At the same time they have to make sure the individual team members are committed and know where they are going. Finally, the strategy needs to be communicated to all stakeholders. When taking this first step, keep in mind that legal operations is nothing more than unbundling some of the many roles and tasks of the General Counsel to mitigate the risk of role overload.
The starting point for this important step is to take a required amount of time. It simply takes time to thoroughly understand the strategy, the mission, the corporate values and the business operations of the company. In the end they serve as a framework for the design of the legal department’s strategy.
The right direction
The legal department's strategy, objectives and plan derives from the overall strategy and the General Counsel’s own mission statement. It identifies legal and regulatory demands, enables to set realistic goals, plan resources and manage expectations. It will function as a roadmap for the team and the rest of the organization. Therefore ideas and observations related to the overall strategy need to be gathered from a wide range of employees in the organization about the legal department, for instance by carrying out a survey or interviews of key persons. The result might look like a laundry list of demands, wants and needs, but it sure offers the necessary insights to make choices and head in the right direction.