Grading Legal on Operational Excellence

HBR Consulting knows the difficulty legal departments have evaluating their processes. At CLOC, group leaders will try to help operations professionals make the grade.

In the fast-changing world of legal operations, it can be tough for the heads of the legal department to know where their practices stand compared to peers and where there is room for improvement.

The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium’s (CLOC) annual institute in Las Vegas will allow general counsel and legal operations professionals to discuss the nuances of running an efficient and data-driven legal department. One session featuring HBR Consulting, which advises law firms, law departments and corporations, will give in-house legal professionals the opportunity to evaluate how their departments are doing on a continuum and drill down into key areas for improvement.

The session, “Architecting Operational Excellence: Blueprints for Success,” will ask participants to take a survey to discern how their departments are progressing in key areas of operations. Then, they’ll join smaller groups to discuss breakout areas such as outside counsel management and strategic planning.

“It’s really going to be very dynamic; it’s going to be very relevant to each individual department and their situation,” said Lauren Chung, managing director, law department consulting at HBR, who will be speaking at the session.

Marc Allen, a director at HBR Consulting, will also help lead the session. He said HBR is seeing some broader legal operations trends that will likely be a part of the conversation at CLOC.

On the technology front, Allen said that many departments have adopted once novel systems for e-billing and matter management, but now they are focusing on the next step—organizing and mining the data produced by these systems to drive real operational improvements.

Allen added that clients are moving to department-wide dashboards as “single flexible platforms” that bring together the information sourced from the department’s different technology tools and present that data in a way that drives in-house decision-making.

“It’s not about a lack of data anymore,” said Chung. “It’s really about how we’re leveraging that data to make impactful decisions that drive how the department will progress.”

The CLOC session will also touch on outside counsel management, an area where Chung and Allen see the convergence trend—legal departments hiring fewer firms to do the company’s body of legal work—still going strong.

But what the more sophisticated legal departments are doing, the consultants said, is using data analysis to make sure that the leaner list of firms is delivering.

“So, you’ve got preferred firms,” said Allen. “But are they actually providing value?”

Allen noted that with tech-enabled billing systems, legal departments can mine the data to see how the rates they are getting from their law firms compare to the market, how alternative fee arrangements are working, and whether the firm meets time, performance and cost goals. Then, they can bring this information back to the firms via periodic reviews.

“A lot of it is starting to pull together those overall firm scorecards and revisiting [the data] in a meaningful way,” Allen explained.

Chung and Allen hope that they can not only teach attendees about how to move forward with their legal operations programs, but learn a bit as well that they can take back to their own clients.

“The success of the session really depends on the level of engagement of the audience,” Chung said, “but our experience with CLOC is there is a high level of engagement and enthusiasm.”

Legaltech News and other ALM magazines will be presenting insights from legal operation’s leaders leading up to and during the CLOC Conference. Stay tuned for more in the coming days.

Originally published on Corporate Counsel. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Contributing Author

Rebekah Mintzer

Rebekah Mintzer is one of the staff reporters at Corporate Counsel and Law.com. You can email her at rmintzer@alm.com or follow her on Twitter 

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