Why Your Organisation Needs a Legal Operations Function

A legal operations function in your organisation can increase efficiency, streamline legal procedures and reduce outsourcing costs. Here’s what you need to consider and how to implement one in your legal department.

Overcome the burden of compliance

Legal compliance issues can become burdensome when regular changes to rules and procedures adversely impact your time spent on other business operations.

According to the ACC, 31 per cent of the 1300 chief legal officers (CLOs) surveyed said they’d been targeted by a regulator for a violation in the past two years. This means that there is a real risk that failing to keep up to date with regulation and compliance changes can ultimately have a costly and stressful impact on your business.

An in-house legal operations function can be primarily responsible for observing compliance updates and changes so that your time is not impacted by red-tape requirements. If you entrust experts in their field to do the appropriate legwork and stick to what you do best, it will save you both time and money.

Almost half of the CLOs surveyed in 2016 used legal operations professionals so that they could dedicate more time to strategy. In a recent interview, Saswata Mukherjee, Global Legal Operations Director at Unilever UK (a newly created role for the company in 2013) shared that part of his job is to work through Unilever’s legal networks, and support the strategy and vision of the legal group in terms of external legal providers, technology and learning.

“The simplification of processes is inherent in my role”, Mukherjee said. “We’ve looked at what we could stop doing, what we could simplify, and what we could outsource.”

Implementing a legal operations function in your department can therefore free up your time to focus on future planning and strategic management, without taking time out of your schedule to brief external counsel.

Save money and streamline collaboration

One of the key advantages of an in-house legal operations function is the ability to bring skills and costs into the structure of the organisation in order to boost productivity, focus resources and achieve cost savings.

Often, external legal fees include additional disbursements and ancillary costs, which could be more effectively managed in-house, while the cost of regularly using legal experts may be outweighed by the benefits of having those experts on an exclusive retainer within the organisation.

A business that is streamlined in its procedures, policies and goals works like a well-oiled machine. In-house legal operations professionals can help identify ways to improve budget management and develop a system of business negotiations, precedents, review procedures, reporting procedures, communication protocols and other tools.

This will not only help the business optimise its compliance obligations, but also reduce risks and protect business assets, including reputation and goodwill.

Improve project management

According to the CLO 2016 survey, ethics and compliance remain the most important issues to CLOs, followed by regulatory issues/challenges and cybersecurity. However, legal department tracking software can help you overcome many of these issues.

With legal tracker software, you can:

  • input, collate and review financial data
  • track budgets
  • bill clients electronically
  • meet your reporting obligations
  • identify trends, opportunities and challenges
  • reduce time-consuming paperwork
  • protect your data via a secure system; and
  • streamline the way your department manages matters and documents.

An in-house legal operations function can be a significant benefit to your business. With the right technology, staff and skills, it can ultimately help your business collaborate better, reduce risks, improve cost savings and free up your most precious resource – time.

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