LET’S TALK LEGAL OPERATIONS
TechLaw.Fest 2020 shines the spotlight on the disruptors transforming in-house departments and law firms alike.
This year marks the 12th since Ms Mary Shen O’Carroll was hired by Google as the tech giant’s first-ever legal ops hire. Her legal operations team now comprises more than 50 members and boasts a varied skill set, ranging from knowledge management and IT to internal process improvement/consulting and outside counsel management. Armed with these, the team supports Google’s 1,200-strong legal juggernaut by allowing it to concentrate on legal work.
Allowing legal professionals to return to their primary focus of practising law is widely seen as a way of increasing operational and financial efficiencies. But despite this, Ms O’Carroll admits that there is still a lot of confusion and haziness about the very concept of legal ops. Just five minutes into a recent podcast on the subject, she quips, “It’s the classic question we get asked over and over again: what are legal operations?”
That question usually gets a different answer every time, depending on who you ask. But Ms O’Carroll hopes that will change with the introduction of the CLOC Core 12. Spearheaded by the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium, of which she is the president, the initiative lists 12 functions that loosely define the scope of legal operations. They range from business intelligence to firm and vendor management; together, they showcase the various efficiencies that a legal operations team can bring.
Take the concept of practice operations, which is one of the listed core competencies. Lawyers from in-house departments can sometimes be frustrated by the many hats they have to wear; they may have to even handle tasks that don't require a legal degree. But beyond merely recognising these inefficiencies, a legal operations professional should also know how to tackle them. The CLOC Core 12 prescribes the creation of flexible and efficient teams trained and experienced in practice-specific operations such as eDiscovery and contracts management. This can bring more speed and efficiency to overall legal output.
Given these benefits, it should come as no surprise that legal operations are no longer just synonymous with in-house legal departments. Increasingly, law firms and alternative legal service providers of all shapes and sizes are also getting in on the action, showing that legal operations are here to stay. If you’re still unfamiliar with the term or have questions about its future or compatibility with your set-up, fret not. Legal Operations take centre stage at the first two panel discussions of TechLaw.Fest 2020:
· 1000h – 1130h: Skills at Scale and the Legal Function (Featuring Ms Mary Shen O’Carroll and Mr Bill Deckelman, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, DXC Technology)
· 1200h – 1330h: Essential Legal Operations Mythbusting (Featuring Mr Vivek Khanwalkar, Manager, Legal Services, Quislex; John Knox, Partner, Global and APAC Legal Managed Services Leader, Ernst & Young; Loretta Yuen, Executive Vice President, Head Group Legal & Regulatory Compliance, OCBC Bank)
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