Legal Operations Skills and Technology for Improving In-House Efficiency

icon-contractIncreasingly, corporations are embracing the benefits of employing legal operations managers. Acting as crucial change agents, these specialized personnel streamline in-sourcing, drive contracting efficiency, and empower in-house lawyers to spend less time on paperwork and more time practicing law. This article explores the future prospects for legal operations professionals, the necessary legal operations skills they need to succeed in their roles, and how technology complements those roles.

Job Outlook for Legal Operations Professionals

A legal operations manager earns anywhere from $72,208 and $95,215, depending on candidate experience, employer size, and geographic location. Last year, six out of 10 corporate law departments employed at least one legal operations professional, according to the Association of Corporate Counsel’s annual survey. What’s more, 40% of survey respondents said they plan to increase the number of full-time legal ops team members in the coming year.

Legal Operations Skills

A person working in legal operations is not only interested in law, but also enjoys researching and implementing new technology. Most legal operations professionals have a college degree—either a BA, BS, or MBA—and work as a paralegal for about five years before transitioning into a management role.

Necessary legal operations skills include:

    • Analytical skills: the ability to crunch numbers and monitor key performance indicators

    • Communication skills: acting as a liaison between lawyers and executives

    • Problem-solving skills: have extensive knowledge of technological solutions 

    • Leadership skills: including the ability to work independently as well as part of a team

    • Negotiation skills: with the ability to build consensus around proposed initiatives

The Intersection Between Legal Operations and Technology

Legal departments are often viewed as the bottleneck of corporate growth. However, legal operations managers who do their jobs well have the power to change that perception. How? With the right legal automation technology. 

In addition to the aforementioned legal operations skills, professionals must understand how to drive efficiency and bring costs down through the use of best practices and technologies as both are crucial for business growth. 

JD Supra lists “strengthening the law department’s technology acumen” among the top 10 legal trends for the coming years as businesses seek to enable in-house teams to succeed in challenging and more demanding environments. 

Legal automation technology complements legal operations skills by helping to:

      • Free up time: The average company’s contract review turnaround time adds 10% (6.5 days) onto the launch of a new product or service, resulting in $7 million in annual revenue losses. Replacing slow, inefficient processes with automated technology can complete a week’s worth of work in a matter of minutes.
      • Reduce costs: A medium complexity contract costs companies nearly $20,000—up 40% over the last several years. Every time a contract is unnecessarily escalated to senior legal counsel, its cost significantly increases due to the higher hourly labor rate. The 17% industry turnover rate compounds those costs as companies lose a significant amount of investment every time an attorney (and his or her knowledge) leaves the company.
      • Accelerate growth: While the $20,000 per contract figure is impressive on its own, its implications are staggering when considering that the average Fortune 1,000 company completes 20,000 to 40,000 agreements every year and global companies complete well over 100,000. Today’s legal operations managers are under tremendous pressure to reduce both turnaround times as well as the costs of reviewing each document while increasing revenue.

      • Improve service: Faster review cycles mean faster sales flows and response times. Some legal software allows for more efficient document version control and tracking—enabling team members to see exactly where they are in the process. Enhanced visibility and trust improves cross-party relationships while tech-enabled assistance builds more congenial negotiations that are free from error and bias. 

LexCheck: Technology for the Modern Legal Ops Team

A legal ops tech stack can include a wide range of platforms from document automation, vendor management, and eDiscovery to compliance monitoring, time tracking, and data security management. While all of these areas are important to some degree, the biggest drain on legal departments’ time tends to be recurring tasks such as contract review. 

In fact, the EY Law Survey found that 20% of in-house counsel’s time is taken up just creating and reviewing employee contracts and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). General Counsel anticipates that while headcounts will increase by 3% over the next three years, workloads will increase by 25%—placing even more pressure on legal operations managers to find new ways to improve in-house efficiency. 

LexCheck focuses on pre-execution contract review and negotiation with an award-winning solution that ensures compliance and reduces risk.

Here’s how it works:

    • Uploading a newly drafted contract into the system is as easy as sending an email. 

    • From there, artificial intelligence (AI) returns a fully redlined and risk-assessed contract that has been compared to the corporate legal playbook and proprietary best practices.

    • Changes can then be implemented at the click of a button or forwarded back to the appropriate parties for more advanced revisions. 

    • Using natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning models, the system can also make suggested changes and provide contextual links that aid in multi-party negotiations. 

On average, legal teams using LexCheck see a 99% decrease in legal playbook training costs, a 90% decrease in review times, a 70% decrease in escalations to senior counsel, and a 33% reduced time-to-execution. 

With so much time saved, legal teams can focus on performing more meaningful work to improve contract language, strategic positioning, and client relationships. As the time and cost of conducting business decrease, the scale of the organization’s ability to grow and thrive skyrockets. 

Currently, the use of such technology is a key differentiator and plays an integral role in improving in-house efficiency. In the future, it will become a core part of every legal department’s standard operating procedures.

Improving your legal operations skills is easy when you have the right technology. Contact us at sales@lexcheck.com to learn more about our automated contract review solution, or request a demo to see it in action.

gary-sanghaGary Sangha | Founder & CEO

Gary Sangha is the Founder and CEO LexCheck. He's a serial entrepreneur and an academic. Gary previously founded Intelligize, a legal technology company that was acquired by LexisNexis. He's affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University and started his career as an attorney at Shearman & Sterling and White & Case.