18 July 2023

Essential steps for building and managing a high-performing legal operations team

Author: Sacha Kirk Insights Resources

As the legal landscape evolves, the function of legal operations is no longer a luxury but a necessity for progressive law firms and in-house legal departments. This crucial role amalgamates the knowledge of law, business, and technology to streamline processes, increase efficiency, and drive organisational value. The question, however, is how to assemble and manage an effective legal operations team?

Here, we share insights into creating a robust legal operations team and nurturing it towards achieving high performance.

Building a Legal Operations Team

Identify the core functions

The first step to assembling a formidable legal operations team is identifying your core functions. Understand what tasks are routine and could be automated or outsourced versus those that require unique legal expertise and should be managed in-house. Common focus areas could include legal technology management, vendor management, knowledge management, financial management, and data analytics.

Define the roles

Once you have the core functions in place, it’s time to define the roles. Each role must have a clear purpose, responsibilities, and measurable metrics to track performance. For instance, a legal operations manager would focus on overall strategy, a legal technologist could work on implementing and managing technology, and a legal project manager would coordinate and track major projects.

Recruit strategically

The importance of hiring the right people cannot be overstated. An effective legal operations team comprises diverse professionals with different perspectives, skills, and experiences. This might include legal professionals with a strong understanding of business operations, tech-savvy individuals with a law background, or business analysts with a knack for data. It’s also crucial to consider soft skills like problem-solving, communication, and adaptability.

Invest in technology

Investing in legal technology tools is necessary for an effective legal operations team. Implementing legal tech solutions like matter management systems, document management tools, legal project management software, and AI-powered legal research tools can greatly enhance productivity and decision-making. As a legal operations technology company, we advocate investing in solutions that suit your unique needs and can scale with your growth.

Ensure regular training and development

Keeping up with the ever-evolving legal and tech landscapes is a must. Regular training and development opportunities for your team ensure they stay current with trends and best practices. This could take the form of workshops, webinars, or industry conferences. Encouraging continuous learning and professional growth can significantly contribute to the team’s effectiveness.

Promote a collaborative culture

Promoting a culture of collaboration within the team is vital. This can be achieved by encouraging open communication, recognising and appreciating each other’s work, and fostering an environment that supports innovation and creativity. Collaboration tools can further enhance team communication and workflow management.

Establish metrics for success

Lastly, establish clear metrics to measure success and determine whether your legal operations team delivers value. These could include metrics like legal spend per matter, cycle time for contract review, client satisfaction levels, or the adoption rate of new technologies. Regularly reviewing and analysing these metrics can provide insights into where improvements are needed.

Managing an Effective Legal Operations Team

Once your team is in place, how do you manage it to achieve high performance?

Set clear expectations

Each team member should clearly understand what is expected of them. This includes their role, responsibilities, performance metrics, and how their work contributes to the team and the broader organisation.

Encourage communication and feedback

Encourage open communication and feedback within the team. Regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, and an open-door policy can go a long way in promoting a transparent and supportive work environment.

Empower decision-making

Empower team members to make decisions and take ownership of their tasks. This can foster a sense of responsibility, boost morale, and enhance productivity.

Recognise and reward performance

Recognising and rewarding performance can motivate team members and drive them to excel. This can be done through verbal recognition, bonuses, promotions, or other tangible rewards.

Promote work-life balance

Lastly, promote a healthy work-life balance. Burnout can result in decreased productivity and increased turnover. Hence, it’s essential to encourage breaks, flexible working hours, work from home days and annual leave.

Conclusion

Building and managing an effective legal operations team is not a one-off task but an ongoing commitment. However, by following these best practices, you can assemble and nurture a team that drives efficiency, adds value, and contributes significantly to your organisation’s success.

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