In 2019, the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) nominated the Australia Post (AustPost) Legal Team as a finalist for its Large Legal Team of the Year Award. Indeed, as the ACC pointed out, AustPost’s legal team has had a good year, helping to deliver key strategic business and community initiatives, such as the Bank@Post refresh, international acquisitions, digital identification services and delivery service reforms.
Naheed Sanusi is the Legal Operations Manager at AustPost and a key driver of innovation in her Legal Team. Her legal department has been introduced to several cutting edge technologies over the last 12 months, including a roll out of Legal Tracker. We sat down with Naheed to talk about the legal ops space and hear what it takes to be a champion innovator for Australia’s renowned postal service.
Journey from Corporate Lawyer to Legal Operations Manager
The career path Naheed has carved for herself at AustPost was partly driven by her keen desire to solve problems proactively. During her time as an in-house Corporate Lawyer for the company, “reviewing processes and identifying all of the steps you go through to get a resolution” was a deeply satisfying aspect of the role. But Naheed wanted to explore that further.
Upon returning from maternity leave in 2015 and with full support from her Manager, Naheed’s position headed in the Legal Operations direction. At the time, the job title was something the industry was still choosing a name for.
“I think it’s really hard to articulate that there really wasn’t such thing as “legal ops” in 2015. It was a role that was still being defined and unclear what value such a role could bring to a legal function – but I could certainly see, given the opportunity, the benefits and value such a role could bring in harmonising a team and driving change”.
Today, Naheed is blazing her own trail full-time in the newly created position.
Driving efficiencies at the heart of the role
Part of being a successful Legal Operations Manager is managing change and showing people what’s in it for them – where is the ‘win?’ Naheed draws on a range of technologies to do this. Whether it’s recommending OneNote to make notetaking easier or rolling out SharePoint Online as a document management solution, Naheed sees the value in bringing in-house lawyers on the journey through the change process.
One legal technology software Naheed has implemented is none other than Legal Tracker, a Thomson Reuters’ solution. Naheed’s entire department has been trained up to use Legal Tracker and she’s the main internal point of contact on the product for AustPost’s law firm advisors and new vendors.
“What do I like about Legal Tracker? I like the visibility that it gives me across all of my legal vendors and the look and feel of the new user interface”– Naheed Sanusi, Legal Operations Manager, AustPost
“In addition to the standard reports that are available, I like the fact that I can customise the standard templates to generate data for reports that meet my business requirements. And delivering accrual reports on a click of a button has been a real game-changer.”
Always the future-thinker, Naheed continues to customise Legal Tracker’s setup to help streamline internal processes. For instance, she recently added the Legal Tracker App to Outlook Exchange and deployed this centrally to Group Legal – so staff could deal with matters straight from Outlook.
Then of course there are other benefits, accumulating over 12 months of data, they are using the data to measure if they are getting the best value from their law firms, are they resourced in the right areas to support their internal clients. Through this body of work, the focus is managing efficiencies and supporting business units to achieve their strategic goals. Overall, Naheed strives to get the best value out of her stakeholders through showing them the benefits that come with unifying processes.
Wisdom for the aspiring legal ops professional
It can’t be denied that joining the ranks as a legal operations professional is not for the faint-hearted. First of all, you have to be a legal professional possessing a high level of business know-how, along with an innovative mindset. In response to how she brings innovative flair to her role, Naheed replied:
“Probably energy. Energy, enthusiasm and just being really positive about what I’m doing. I feel my deep understanding of people’s perspectives helps me drive that change behaviour.
It’s been a long journey bringing people on board, making it really critical for me to have that kind of empathetic lens. I understand what they [those working in my department] do and the challenges that they go through. This allows me to show them, well, actually there’s a different way of doing this and there is a more effective way to get the same result.”
For those considering legal operations as a career goal, Naheed advises having a great deal of enthusiasm and drive.
“You’ve got to be resilient. You’ve got to look for change and be interested in managing change. Be interested in spending time with people to understand what their pain points are, and have a real goal to develop solutions that suit the problem.”
Naheed added that doing her own research and taking a human-centred design approach is what she continues to enjoy.
“That’s how you make real change and that’s how you develop real solutions. Real solutions that meet the problem.”
Liked reading about Naheed’s career journey? To learn more about our products built for legal departments of all sizes, familiarise yourself with the Thomson Reuters legal solutions hub.