Whether your legal team is 1000 lawyers deep, a modest mix of lawyers and business professionals or a solo flyer with a robust outsourcing agenda — running “legal” within a business is a job onto itself! Yet, in most legal departments, it is more common to see the management of a legal team’s work and budget as only a small piece of the GC responsibility pie, rather than a full-time role.
21st Century Rise. However this is not the case for 21st century legal careers as first recognized by the Association of Corporate Counsel (“ACC”) nearly 8 years ago. The ACC Value Challenge Proposition and the showcasing of departmental excellence through cost reductions, higher predictability of matters and better outcomes, changed the conversation and behavior of departments and their suppliers. The Value Champions include those that add corporate operations as a function.
The ACC’s leadership gained the attention of major banks and big law firms and is a precurser to the formation of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (“CLOC”)..
Legal Professionals. We intentionally say, “legal professionals” and avoid the term “non-lawyers”. We are highlighting a particular Legal Operations Officer, who happens to have no legal training. Instead, Stephanie Corey, formerly Chief of Staff and Legal Operations Senior Director at Flex is equipped with a robust background in Finance, IT, Communications and Administration with experience working in Silicon Valley-based finance and investment firms. She also served 11 years as Financial/Legal Operations Manager for the Legal Department of Hewlett-Packard. During her tenure at HP she saw the legal department grow from 200-1200 and was promoted to Chief of Staff.
As Stephanie’s transitions and evolution unfolded, she become one of the founding members of CLOC discussing experiences, realizing they were all dealing with similar in-house challenges (like running RFPs, panel selection, e-discovery managment, among others) and that so much could be gained by sharing what not to do and what worked well.
Collaboration within and outside of one’s organization made the difference.
Leverage It. From HP, Stephanie joined Flex where she worked to build an internal Legal Operations role under GC, Jon Hoak. But when it came time to transition to a new GC, realizing this meant a significant loss of organizational knowledge and the time-consuming task of “training” a new GC, Stephanie’s “aha” moment prompted her to think “there has to be a better way…”. More specifically, how could she make transferrable and outsource the knowledge, strategy and function of legal operations?
Just over a year ago, Stephanie Stephanie and Jon founded UpLevel Ops, a consultancy with a rapidly growing client base and team. UpLevel’s approach to streamlining the work done by in-house law departments and law firms. It encompasses a wide range of expertise in Strategic Planning, Financial Management, Information Technology, Vendor Management, and Legal Data Analytics.
Process + Automation => Solutions. An example of what this means in terms of a common Legal Operations Officer task (one that will undoubtedly strike a chord with most GCs) is implementing or improving a contract management system (“CMS”). Clients can acquire the newest CMS tech and innovations, but without a business-tailored strategy for process assessment/improvement, implementation and organizational adoption, the solution will fail. Legal operations can change that outcome by providing strategy, process development and best practices (including avoiding the all-to-common approach of automating a bad process).
So what skills and experience matter for a 21st century Legal Operations Officer? Stephanie explains that individuals well-suited (tie and law degree optional) for a Legal Ops role are those who:
- Like finding solutions and fixing things
- Dive into problems, navigate and quickly grasp business concepts, relationships and dynamics
- Have experience within organizations and across departments
- Put the client first at every stage of the problem and solution design
- Are collaborative, not competitive
- Bring insight and in-depth knowledge of legal tools and technology
- Adapt quickly and can change course when something doesn’t work or scale up when it does.
Legal Operations brings about an exciting emphasis on collaboration and integration of the legal professional within the business.
More on this in our next “alt” legal career profile next month – The Legal Analyst & Data Science Expert.
Jason Moyse has served on global teams implementing major customer experience initiatives as a connector/doer/spark and key trusted advisor to the C-Suite, Senior Leadership and Governance Teams for legal and business matters.
Jason’s broad background includes private legal practice in high volume commercial litigation as well as serving as in-house counsel at Xerox where he reduced legal spend by 60% and increased recovery from litigation activities by 100% during his tenure.
A lawyer and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Jason is Manager of Legal Business Solutions on behalf of Elevate Services – a next generation legal service provider helping law firms and corporate legal departments improve efficiency, quality and outcomes through consulting, managed services, technology and talent.
A member of various boards centred on legal innovation, he is also the co-founder of Law Made – an agency serving LegalTech startups and Corporates to help the Digital Davids and Enterprise Goliaths dance together through access to capital, clients and markets. Previously, he co-created and executed on the vision of LegalX through the MaRS Discovery District. He has written numerous articles as well as hosted and key noted events focused on startups and the innovative NewLaw fusion of technology, design, process improvement, document automation and lean strategy as applied to legal and advisory services.