“Most of us spend time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important,” according to Stephen R. Covey. The sentiment of the late author was reflected in the third habit – put first things first – of his bestselling book, 7 Effective Habits of Highly Effective People.
Benchmarking is an effective and data-driven way to determine what action items belong on the top of the list. In corporate legal departments determining priorities is coupled in the shadow of tackling more responsibilities with the same, or even fewer resources.
It’s not unusual for legal departments to have their budgets reduced by as much as five to ten percent in a single year, yet still be expected to maintain the same or greater performance levels. On top of budget pressures, general counsels are often challenged by how to manage risk, improve compliance, save time and get the best possible legal outcomes.
Such challenges demand that corporate legal department attorneys look for ways to use technology and data to improve processes, uncover greater cost efficiencies and deliver better results.
Common Denominators in Law Department Maturity
The white paper breaks down the three drivers of corporate maturity as follows:
1. Technology. The path to high-level maturity requires enterprise-level systems that capture information, drive workflows and automate tasks. These systems help establish processes and make it more efficient to route matters, documents and information between parties inside the department and with external vendors. Examples include matter management, e-billing, document management and contract management.
2. Analytics. Legal analytics is the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns of data: Data that can look at outside counsel spending and the outcomes achieved in certain matters. Data that can tell how long matters are taking and how they’re performing against budgets. Examples include legal spend analysis, outcome analysis and counsel assessments.
3. Processes. The series of actions or steps taken to achieve a particular end – the processes – are the third driver of operational maturity. Examples include budgeting, law firm assessment and panel management.
The full paper examines outcomes – three very different approaches to improving legal department operations in unique organizations – in a case study format. It closes by noting a holistic examination – and plan of action is the most assured path to making breakthrough progress:
Corporate legal departments that have successfully achieved operational maturity learn that the greatest savings come not just from deploying technology or changing a few processes, but from making comprehensive changes.
The complete white paper is freely available for download with registration.
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3 Outcomes of Improving Legal Department Operations