Please enjoy this blog posted on behalf of the author, Bibiana Martinez Camelo, Head of Legal Operations, Bancolombia.
Organizations are always in need to optimize their resources and increase productivity of their different business units, including of course legal departments. But how legal departments can offer a better service to the businesses, and increase speed and quality while using the same resources in terms of people?
To approach this challenge, we must start by changing the mindset and creating multidisciplinary teams. A legal department as any other business unit requires to handle tasks that exceed the legal services themselves, and that can be better fulfilled and optimized by none-lawyers.
This is where Legal Operations teams come to play. As defined by CLOC (Corporate Legal Operation Consortium), Legal operations “describes a set of business processes, activities, and the professionals who enable legal departments to serve their clients more effectively by applying business and technical practices to the delivery of legal services. Legal ops provides the strategic planning, financial management, project management, and technology expertise that enables legal professionals to focus on providing legal advice”.
There are many areas where Legal Operations teams can create an impact and help a legal department to scale up.
Self-managed legal knowledge
Business units are always in need of a legal advice, however, not always the legal component of the request is complex enough to require a lawyer. In fact, there are many services than can be standardize and convert into products of legal knowledge, to be self-served by the Organization. From intranet portals, to chatbots or documents automation, implementing tools for teams to self-manage legal knowledge has a huge impact on the operation of the legal department and the perception of the service by the users, because requests will be solved instantly, and lawyers will free up time to attend other more complex matters.
Nowadays, there are many low-code alternatives that can be used to support the creation of these tools. However, even with a simple system, lawyers have a very important role in the construction of these knowledge products, because they standardize and create all the legal concepts behind. Only with this information, legal operations professionals can lead the implementation of such knowledge in the right tool.
Process improvement and automation
Requests for legal services can come by different means, from an email to a meeting or a WhatsApp message. However, is it optimal to receive service requests through so many different channels? The answer is NO. Not only it brings difficulties to track the status of the open cases, but it makes it difficult for the user to find the right channel and usually it leads to reprocessing and negative experiences.
Workflow automation tools are a great solution for this challenge. It allows you to control not only the intake of the requests, but also to generate data (for example service time or number of open cases) and statistics, and in some cases avoid manual tasks that can be handle by the system itself like the triage of the requests.
Data driven culture
Another example is business intelligence. We all know it is important to take informed decisions based on real data, measuring what matters and colleting the right information. However, legal departments tend to measure more qualitative than quantitative matters. To change this, the first step is to start measuring and generate relevant data based on the audience and targets of analysis. Once the data is collected and curated, it is ready to be processed and presented to the General Council who should be able to identify trends and efficiency opportunities and to connect the conclusions with the business units.
Transformation beyond technology
Finally, Legal Operations teams lead projects beyond technology itself. In fact, change management and transformation of culture at work are key concepts that should be handled together with the new implementations and projects to obtain outstanding results. This implies creating a new standard of communication between the lawyers and their users, prevailing a human center approach to all legal services, and being clearer in the concepts and knowledge built for them to avoid misunderstandings and future disputes because of a lack of clarity.