Exploring the growing trend of legal operations executives - an interview with Christine Coats, VP of Legal Operations at Oracle

Exploring the growing trend of legal operations executives - an interview with Christine Coats, VP of Legal Operations at Oracle

The last decade has witnessed an ever-increasing presence of the legal operations executive within in-house legal teams. Christine Coats, vice president of legal operations at Oracle and board member and financial officer for the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), discusses the value and benefits of a legal operations executive (LOE) as part of the legal team.

What are LOEs and how do they fit within legal departments? Who do they generally report to?

Normally, LOEs work alongside the general counsel (GC) in a legal organisation and report to the GC directly. Our role is to help the GC reach goals and outcomes and realise their strategic vision. We do this by driving efficiencies in the operations of the legal department and by liaising cross functionally.

Why are weseeing a trend towards the appointment of LOEs? What benefits do they provide for in-house legal departments? Equally, what may be some drawbacks of having an LOE?

At the CLOC, weare seeing an increasing trend for organisations to appoint LOEs, partly due to the growing recognition of the value of the role. In 2005, my career as an LOE at Symantec was not a fully recognised role, no-one knew us. Now, the LOE role is an esteemed function in the legal department.

It used to be the case that you needed at least 50 people in the legal department before it was considered necessary or advisable to have an LOE. This is no longer the case, the role has evolved to the LOE becoming a significant executive contributor in small to medium legal organisations to the GC.

LOEs have also grown in professional stature. They have progressed—in American organisations for example—from being directors to vice presidents to a critical component on leadership teams. Many LOEs now have sizable teams themselves. When I joined Oracle in 2015, I had three people on my team. I now have a full team of dedicated highly qualified professional skilled legal operations employees.

LOEs benefit their organisations by helping

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