Lawyers today are expected to operate more tasks as well as handle more data than ever before. That’s where legal operations come to rescue. Also known as “legal ops,” these teams help corporate legal departments adopt technology, improve legal processes, and plan strategically to ensure their success from a business perspective.
Legal ops teams bring business and technical expertise to legal departments so that lawyers can spend their time focusing on substantive legal work. For any corporate legal departments, the support of legal ops not only reduce costs but also make costs more predictable. These days, more and more organizations are catching on to the advantages of adding legal ops professionals to their legal departments and leadership teams.
Through the blog, we will discuss the basics of legal operations and explain the dynamic between legal ops and IT teams, and discuss how legal technology can help legal ops optimize their results and decrease their reliance on IT.
In general, legal operations is a type of business discipline that supports a wide range of non-legal needs in a legal practice. Legal ops professionals handle the big-picture business aspects of legal services so that lawyers can focus on legal tasks. Their operations are typically multidisciplinary, bringing skills in areas such as project management, strategic planning, finance, and technology.
Even law firms have their own legal ops, where they hire lawyers to perform different operational tasks, rather than employing business professionals. However, this scenario is changing. Legal ops are typically part of an organization’s legal department. However, their composition can vary, depending on the organization’s size and needs.
The main purpose of a legal ops team is to make the legal department more efficient and effective. They accomplish this goal by implementing technology and standardized processes that can save time, all the while, freeing lawyers to focus on providing high-quality legal services. Legal ops acts as a bridge between the legal department and the rest of the organization.
The relation between legal ops and IT
Legal departments already have heaps of data to tackle. With the emergence of pandemic, change in working environments, collaboration tools and chat applications became norms, resulting in more data to get discovered. But lawyers are not the only ones to get burdened under the rise in data volumes. It is the IT teams, which already have their hands full with other responsibilities, for instance data security, ensuring the software is updated, handling issues related to remote work connections etc. with lawyers being dependent on IT teams to provide them assistance in their tech work, the burden only get high. This is where legal ops come, to reduce the lawyers’ reliance on IT by streamlining access to data, and they do this by simply following an easy approach, leveraging the right technology.
A number of legal tech tools can give legal ops teams more control over their data, streamlining the entire eDiscovery process.
As the legal industry catches up on broader trends of replacing on-premise IT approaches with software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud platforms, the eDiscovery process will become much more efficient. The ability to store data in one easily accessible place and eliminate upfront costs through flexible pay structures will simplify the process, reduce costs, and bring better results.
Other tools like workflow automation and artificial intelligence (AI) can also save time and add value from the earliest stages of the eDiscovery process. Even when some level of coordination with IT is required, these tools can expedite eDiscovery at all stages.
Automated workflow tools enable legal ops teams to choose workflow templates that are best suited for each project. These workflow templates map out who is responsible for each piece of the process—for example, whether in-house counsel can collect certain data without IT’s assistance—and the timeline each person must follow in completing the portions for which they are responsible. Techniques like data mining can drastically reduce the documents that must be collected for review and take it a step further by making suggestions for new keywords or search terms that could lead to better results.
When legal departments have more direct access to, and control over, the data they need, they can achieve better outcomes in less time without relying on their overextended IT teams.
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