Once upon a time, the law department was a much simpler thing. A man in a three-piece suit, sitting at a mahogany desk, writing a contract on a typewriter.
Things sure have changed. Today’s corporate legal department is diverse, technologically savvy, fast-moving—and global. If your business operates 24 hours a day, what can you do to make sure your contracts never sleep?
During a session at Legaltech West Coast on “Creating the Global Law Department”, panelists who have led top legal operations teams shared their advice for leading change management to build effective legal operations team. Here are their top tips.
10 Tips from Legaltech
1. When bringing in outside companies, don’t think of the process as vendor management—think of it as partner management instead. When you treat your vendors as trusted extensions of your team, you’ll build a more effective relationship and get more done.
2. Pull together your entire global team for discussion and buy-in up front. Don’t just limit discussion of new technology to a small team at headquarters. Without this discussion, your global team may not think the change is real until it’s ready to go live, and feature and change requests will come in at the last minute.
3. Make sure you know how you’re spending your money. Build analytics for your activities, and only invest in new legal technology that you can measure.
4. The most important measure of your technology is financial savings or improved top-line earnings, but not every activity is easily measured in dollars and cents. If you cannot measure financial results, use another valuable metric—increased efficiency, for example. Above all choose technology partners that care about your success, and work with you from the beginning to define the measures you will benefit from.
5. Listen to what your global team is asking for, and bring in the tools that will address the challenges of your team. This way you can be sure the change will be accepted when a new tool is rolled out.
6. Don’t let an outsized goal stand in the way of success. One panelist noted that an 80% adoption rate of a new technology would be a terrific outcome in her organization. Set a realistic goal for your team and organization, and don’t use someone else’s definition of success if it doesn’t make sense for you.
7. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Seek out peers from other companies and find out what they’ve done. Join associations, network, and go to conferences to learn more. And work with technology providers that will focus on your needs, in particular the outcomes you are hoping to achieve.
8. When designing a process, avoid the common impulse to name processes as “US” and “Non-US”. Even though this is often the relevant dividing line for a workflow, naming processes this way sets your global team members apart from the headquarters team. You want to use technology to make your team members feel more strongly connected to each other, not the opposite. Instead, take the extra effort to name processes according to every site where you operate, and acknowledge the important contributions of the entire global team.
9. A best practice identified by panelists is to have a dedicated project manager and business analyst attached to the legal operations team. Working closely with IT like this will ensure smoother technology testing and launch.
10. Don’t keep your contract lifecycle management system to yourself. Once you’ve launched CLM with one team, other teams will want the efficiency that it can provide. So be prepared to present to other internal groups about what you’re doing—you will impress your colleagues and spread your success across the company!
The panel included Stephanie Corey, Chief of Staff and Legal Operations Senior Director at Flex, Emily Teuben, Sr. Legal Operations Manager at NetApp, and Christine Coats, VP of Legal Operations at Oracle.