According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the legal services industry in the U.S. is expected to generate $288 billion in revenue by 2018, a 13 percent increase from 2014. Besides legal transcription outsourcing, legal departments and law firms rely on external support for legal research, document drafting, paralegal work and other tasks to save time and focus on their core tasks.
Today, corporate legal departments have to deal with dynamic businesses and a rapidly changing legal landscape. According to a Thomson Reuters report, this had led legal departments to embrace legal operations (legal ops). In fact, legal ops have emerged as the new buzzword for legal departments to deal with rapidly growing global regulatory requirements, new security threats, increased workloads, and challenging business goals. Embracing legal ops can enhance efficiency and productivity, and cut costs, and improve risk and compliance management.
Legal departments need to function like any other business entity. They need to optimize time management, focus on efficiency, improve responsiveness, conserve resources, enhance productivity, and deliver value. Embracing legal operations allows them to do all of this. Legal operations refer to optimizing expertise, resources, methodology, and process to improve the delivery of legal services. Similar to legal transcription services, embracing legal operations frees up legal departments to concentrate on matters that need their specialized expertise.
The rapid growth of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) is a sign of the importance of great legal operations, according to a recent Above the Law report. Thomson Reuters cites Connie Brenton, chief executive officer, CLOC as saying, “Legal operations professionals are vital to helping in-house teams improve the way in which they deliver legal services, which is why we see a growing focus across the industry on legal operations.”
Legal operations professionals perform tasks undertaken by in-house lawyers along with their technical duties or by other business support functions. According to CLOC, the 12 core competencies that legal operations professionals need to have are:
- Financial Management: This includes financial planning, management and reporting, budgeting, forecasting, etc.
- Vendor Management: Legal operations teams handle external vendor relations, including overseeing vendor rates, billing and compliance with company policies and billing guidelines.
- Cross-Functional Alignment: This involves supporting expansion to the legal department’s effectiveness and alignment with other aspects of the organization.
- Technology and Process Support: Legal operations professionals oversee technology programs and manage the department’s technology resources vital to improve the legal department’s productivity.
- Service Delivery and Alternative Support Models: This involves analyzing and improving the way legal services reach end-users.
- Organizational Design, Support and Management: Legal operations can improve the organization structural efficiency.
- Communications: By improving communication between the legal department and other parts of the organization, legal operations allow for greater insights and increased collaboration.
- Data Analytics: Legal operations teams can help the legal department mine vital information from data and make the data readily available.
- Litigation Support and IP Management: By providing effective litigation support, legal operations professionals help corporations manage their intellectual property concerns.
- Knowledge Management: Legal operations managers help legal departments capture, distribute and effectively use the knowledge they generate.
- Information Governance and Records Management: Legal operations professionals can ensure safety of sensitive data and optimize legal departments’ records management.
- Strategic Planning: Legal operations help align the functions of the legal department with the corporation’s goals and benchmarks.
Digitization obviously plays a key role in legal operations. However, the Above the Law report notes that legal departments need to implement “secure, robust, and bottom-line-friendly” technology solutions to meet their growing operational challenges. Further, as not all legal departments are identical, a one size fits all approach would not work when it comes to technology. Implementing the right technology can save time in generating reports for clients, storing and referencing matter documents, timely and efficient invoice generation and billing, and more.
As the importance of legal operations increases, legal transcription companies can expect a surge in the demand for their services. Reliable companies provide quality audio transcription services to document sensitive legal material accurately and promptly, helping law departments meet their digitization goals and drive operational efficiencies via legal operations.