What is Legal Operations and How Does it Help Legal Departments

| May 3 2023

The role of Legal Operations is becoming increasingly important in today's fast-paced and complex corporate legal department. With more companies expecting their legal departments to contribute to their overall vision and mission, as well as their bottom line, a greater emphasis has been placed on managing and optimizing these departments.

As businesses grow, so does the amount of contracts, documents, and data that need to be dealt with. This requires the use of advanced tools and technologies to streamline and optimize operations. However, most attorneys are not trained in these areas and end up spending more time on non-legal tasks. This is where a Legal Operations manager can be of great assistance.

Legal Ops covers a wide range of areas, including strategy, finance, technology, and more, all of which can help corporate legal departments improve their operations.

Strategy: Action without strategy is a wasted effort. That’s why legal operations professionals should develop a strategic plan that aligns with the overall goals of the organization and ensures that the department is working towards a common purpose.

Operations Management: Effective operations management is key to the success of any legal department, and legal operations professionals should develop processes and procedures that improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase the quality of legal services provided.

Financial Management: Effective financial management is crucial for legal departments to operate within budget and optimize their resources. Legal operations professionals can offer expert guidance on financial matters, such as budgeting, forecasting, and cost management.

Technology: Gone are the days of paper documents. Today, technology is essential to the modern legal department, and a legal operations professional can bring expertise regarding the use of legal technology tools, data analytics, and cybersecurity.

Vendor Management: External vendors can be a risk when it comes to company data, intellectual property, and legal matters, and in-house legal teams need to manage these relationships effectively. Legal operations professionals can play a vital role in vendor management, including vendor selection, contract negotiation, and performance management.

Data Analytics: Legal departments have access to a lot of company data. By using analytics, many insights can be gained that inform important decisions not only for the legal department but for the larger business. These analytics also play a tactical role when understanding organizational data as part of investigations, litigation, or compliance audits.

Knowledge Management: Many businesses possess a vast amount of institutional knowledge, but struggle to access it effectively. This is where knowledge management comes in. Legal Operations professionals can offer support and advice on knowledge management, including document management, information governance, and knowledge sharing.

Process Improvement: You can have the best talent and technology, but without repeatable processes, legal departments won’t operate to their fullest potential. Legal Operations roles are integral to managing process mapping, process redesign, and process automation.

Change Management: Managing change is another component that legal departments need to take into consideration in order to effectively adapt to new challenges and opportunities. And Legal Operations plays a key role in facilitating communication, training, and stakeholder management.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are on the rise in many large organizations, and these efforts often involve oversight from legal. Legal Operations can support these efforts by managing policies, programs, and training.

Project Management: Legal departments are continually asked to do more with less by their company’s executive team, so projects must be managed effectively to ensure that they are delivered on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards. Legal Operations managers are excellent at taking on project management responsibilities for the team, which allows the attorneys to focus on practicing law.

Communications: Effective communication is essential to the success of any endeavor and the same holds true for corporate legal departments. Legal Operations managers often act as communication liaisons between the many stakeholders working with in-house legal teams, such as IT, the C-Suite, outside counsel, and technology vendors.


In today's business world, legal departments are expected to do more than just avoid legal disputes. This is why specialists in Legal Operations are needed now more than ever to develop best practices that improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase the quality of legal services for their internal clients. 


Want to Learn More? Download Hanzo's Guide to Legal Operations!





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