Not to be obvious here, but a business unit literally needs efficient operations to operate efficiently. But in legal departments, operations have historically been an afterthought and that has reduced the ability to manage legal technology disciplines, such as eDiscovery and contract management, efficiently and cohesively. Today, however, the practice of legal operations has become a discipline of its own, revolutionizing how legal services within the other disciplines are delivered. The discipline of legal operations today even has its own global community and consortium of experts to set industry standard for legal operations professionals everywhere!
CLOC and the Definition of Legal Operations
Chances are, if you’re in the legal industry today, you’ve probably heard of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC). CLOC was founded in 2010 to redefine the business of law and help set industry standards and practices for the profession. Today, CLOC has thousands of global members creating change and advancing the legal operations role across the entire legal ecosystem. They even have a yearly Global Institute conference in Las Vegas that is returning this May after a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic!
Where there used to not be an accepted definition of legal operations, CLOC has defined it this way:
“‘Legal operations’ (or legal ops) 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.”
Applying Legal Ops to Legal Tech Disciplines
Without an overarching legal ops “umbrella” to plan and manage various legal tech disciplines from a financial and technological standpoint, the provision of legal services can become disjointed. But an operations-oriented approach can help manage the challenges that organizations face today in each discipline, such as:
- eDiscovery: Challenges such as Big Data (including increased variety of data sources), growing cyber threats, and increased data privacy compliance requirements can lead to greater budget pressure to manage it all. An operations-oriented approach to address these challenges efficiently is an absolute “must” in today’s ever-changing world.
- Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM): Today’s uncertain business environment has complicated CLM and contract analysis within an organization considerably. Examples include the recent transition from the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) to the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) for interest rates, to Force Majeure clauses being exercised when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020 to the need to comply with data privacy legislation like GDPR. All these events have forced large-scale updates to enterprise contracts – and remember – a typical Fortune 1000 company maintains 20,000-40,000 active contracts at any given point of time!
Some level of efficiency can be gained within each discipline separately, but an operations-oriented approach across disciplines achieves a much greater w level of efficiency, especially when business processes and technology can be leveraged across disciplines like eDiscovery and CLM from a legal ops perspective.
With the challenges that organizations face today, it’s no longer viable to address disciplines like eDiscovery and CLM separately. Today, the legal operations professional has an expanding role and mandate – to tie the various legal tech disciplines together as a unified cohesive operation!
As we announced recently, Cimplifi will be conducting the session Legal Operations at the Crossroads: The Convergence of eDiscovery and Contract Analytics at Legalweek on Wednesday, March 9th, at 11:30am ET. Leading the session will be Marla Crawford, Cimplifi general counsel, who will be joined by Ari Kaplan, of Ari Kaplan Advisors. The session will offer insight into achieving digital maturity from eDiscovery to contract analytics, accelerating the legal department beyond discovery with people, process, and technology, and how to drive value in the legal department by driving change.
As part of the session, Crawford and Kaplan will be discussing the results of research conducted by Kaplan with 31 legal operations leaders, which focused on key trends in legal operations and the next frontier for the legal department, contract analytics and lifecycle management. To register for LegalWeek, click here!