Legal operations: How legal teams are adapting to meet new challenges

Legal operations: How legal teams are adapting to meet new challenges

 

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact on organisations, legal departments have a vital role in safeguarding and supporting their companies. Often taking on far heavier workloads.

This week, on Tuesday 30th June, LexisNexis held another of our in-house counsel events – our Flying Solo COVID‐19 discussion forums – hosted in partnership with Radius Law and F‐Lex.

 

Poll insights

Findings from our in-house community polls have revealed:

  • Efficiency and reducing risk are the top two ways legal teams believe they can show value to their business
  • 57% of those surveyed said that they will drive increased efficiency from their teams with a greater use of technology
  • 49% of those surveyed stated that they had ‘not given specific attention to legal operations
  • 50% stated their key challenge in delivering value was that they ‘spend too much time of repetitive tasks that add little value’
  • 75% of in-house lawyers would prefer to continue working mostly from home for the long-term.
  • 25% stated that limited visibility of peer and law firm activity was a key challenge
  • 50% felt that time spent on repetitive tasks impacts on the value they can deliver

 

This week the peer discussion was centered around: “Legal operations: how legal teams are innovating and adapting to meet new challenges”.

  • How to ensure legal are top of mind and involved in strategic commercial projects from the start
  • Articulating the purpose of the legal team to manage expectations of colleagues
  • How to maintain stakeholder engagement in your organisation and with external parties
  • How to promote the value of the legal team across the organisation
  • Nurturing junior talent within the legal department

See below for some of our key takeaways from the session:

 

Accelerating change

We heard from Dinesh Jadav, Head of Legal Operations at Royal Mail, who said he felt that Covid-19 had accelerated the need for change. Timelines which previously had been forecasted for 3-5 years, had seen immediate changes, and legal would be at the forefront of managing that change. He noted that the operating in Royal Mail has changed significantly, with fewer letters and parcels being delivered.  

 

Creating impact

On the topic of the need and the imperative for a legal team to be delivering impact on the organisation, Manu Kanwar, Co-Founder of LexSolutions, a legal operations consultancy. He said that legal teams needed to separate their role into different areas:

Business impact – the day to day, how things are resourced and making sure things are being done

Strategic impact – future-proofing, innovation and process improvement

Cultural impact – why we’re doing this, how we’re doing this and also the wellness of employees, particularly at a time when the workforce is feeling somewhat disparate and facing their own personal challenges

 

He likened being a legal counsel in a pandemic to being thrown overboard – your immediate response is to ensure you ‘keep your head above water’ and that the business impact is protected, then once employees are online with the technology that they need to fulfil their roles, the strategic impact can be addressed.

He said that at his organisation, and speaking with his clients, one of the important things he had noted was the importance of taking time to ‘step back’ (assess the cultural impact) during the pandemic, and to review everything again, and to ensure the legal team’s objectives are aligned with the business.

 

Reducing risk & increasing efficiency

Madeleine Graham, Senior Product Manager at RELX, stated that for users of LexisNexis products, reducing risk and increasing efficiency are two key ways that are commonly cited as ways that they can demonstrate value to the organisation. She mentioned that in the Solutions Team at LexisNexis, they look at various ways that they can do that and run experiments on this topic consistently.

According to Madeleine, the current way legal and professional services teams are looking to add value is by turbo-charging their content, as well as LexisNexis content. Additionally, considering the current pandemic, they are looking to use this content in a consistent way in the Microsoft environment, and collaboration tools across the Microsoft suite.

 

Marrying tech and law

Madeleine also highlighted the importance of lawyers being comfortable with data and analytics as ‘that partnership will be essential going forward.’ The legal tech offering that LexisNexis provides indeed reduces the time that you need to spend on those repetitive tasks, and therefore freeing you up to put some real thinking power into data and analytics, and showing your value to the organisation.

 

We will be holding more events in month or so – please do sign-up to be involved in future discussions and networking opportunities. 

 

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About the author:

Amy is an established writer and researcher, having contributed to publications, such as The Law Society, LPM, City A.M. and Financial IT. Her role at LexisNexis UK involved leading content and thought leadership, as well as writing research reports, including "The Bellwether Report 2020, Covid-19: The next chapter" and "Are medium-sized firms the change-makers in legal?"