Only full GC support can extend to the recruitment of gravitas and the seat at the executive table needed to realize the transformative potential of the role. A recognised and empowered legal operations expert should be informed and fully involved in strategic decisions involving the Ministry. Those with a legal background are a natural complement to the role, with their implicit understanding of the processes and the language used an advantageous starting point. However, Brenton and Franke agreed that legal qualifications are by no means a requirement, with financial, technological, business and leadership backgrounds also seen as a good foundation for space. I always suggest that the operations manager start with the internal operating budget and the budget of the external consultant. Implement a supplier management program (Management of External Lawyers). Negotiate rates with companies. Look at which companies do what kind of work and at what cost. Evaluate regulations and total case costs. Understand drivers at the macro and micro level. Take a look at how the internal team is staffed. Then try to reorganize the department, make sure you have experienced lawyers who lead the strategy with external consultants, negotiate rates with firms, implement mandate agreements, implement billing policies. Evaluate where, how and if you should consider alternative tariff arrangements.
If you do these things, the company will almost always see a reduction in expenses. This is a long way from years ago, when the in-house counsel, a kind of general superintendent, used outside lawyers to handle much of the difficult legal corruption. In 2018, it is becoming increasingly common for corporate general counsel to run an in-house military that resembles a top-notch law firm in size – with some legal departments spanning up to 1,000 lawyers, others even more. “In some companies, the problem is that the business professional is a `non-lawyer`. I am not a lawyer. I recently spoke at an expert panel at a conference and stressed that I was part of it. My good friend and colleague (a lawyer) trained me and suggested that I never say “no lawyer” again. I think the topic is related to change management. No one likes to change or be told what to do, and lawyers are no exception. Although the number of Legal Ops positions on the market is increasing, they can be difficult to fill. The 12 skills require not only a diverse set of skills, but also a personality requirement for the job description – to be tough, but also gentle and compelling. But instead of getting discouraged, more and more legal professionals are opting for this burgeoning profession – so much so that an industry association has formed to support them.
The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) began seven years ago as a group of about 40 informal meetings and has grown into a 1,000-member global legal association that is expected to reach 2,500 attendees at its annual conference in the United States later this year. CLOC`s ambitions go beyond spearheading a corporate efficiency offensive and extend to comprehensive sector development. Its 12 core competencies are a starting point for further refinement and development and work on both promoting and communicating best practice models. CLOC even hopes that its content could be disseminated outside the profession, as it plans to work with law schools and other training providers to develop a formal program for legal operations and to provide legal services in a business environment. CLOC has identified six key players in this ecosystem: businesses, law firms, legal services subcontractors, technology companies, law schools and regulators. It is already opening its annual conferences to participants in non-legal transactions, with the intention of adding a CLOC membership category for law firms in the near future. “Many of my colleagues in companies with qualified operational experts already own the service delivery. Freeing up the GC, focusing on mitigating current risks and anticipating future risks, while helping to make the business as profitable as possible, should be the goal of every lawyer. Centralizing operations and service delivery within the operations team gives the GC the opportunity to be more strategic,” says Arrowsmith.