Get to Know Your Team
One of your first priorities can also be your most effective! Take some time to discover how your legal team currently works; their strengths and weaknesses. Make sure to have in-depth conversations with your own team. Items of particular importance are:
- General impressions from team members
- Team dynamics
- 1-on-1s with your legal team
- Your own interview questions (“What do you like about your position?” “What do you wish you could change about the department?”)
Then use this information to understand the team’s goals and common themes for improvement.
The Legal Department Interactions with Internal Clients
The role of Legal Ops professionals is to help legal teams with new processes when they need a change, but that’s not the only asset they provide. Legal Ops professionals should understand how legal teams interact with other departments by shadowing interdepartmental meetings and taking notes on what is and isn’t working. This process can help identify bottlenecks and other issues (which allows for solutions to be discovered!).
An effective Legal Ops professional will be a part of the c-suite and high-level business operations. This is important in order to make sure the legal department is demonstrating its continued value and support to company-wide initiatives. This can also help the company know when it’s best to involve the legal department during any given project.
After the first two suggestions, you’ll have a good grasp on how your legal team uses current tools and processes including who is doing what, at what time, and how.
Now that you know what’s going on, it’s time to create process maps to determine what is working and what needs improvement. Process maps can take a while to complete, but the work will help everyone identify any shortcomings in the way things are currently done.
Create (Or Improve Upon) a Tech Roadmap
Since legal tech is tied closely with the evolution of the operations of legal teams, it's become a main focus for many Legal Ops professionals. Successful Legal Ops professionals are versed in the latest data and technology tools. They keep their team (and company) informed.
If your legal department has manual process issues: Use your first month to create a technology roadmap outlining goals and must-haves for the next 2-3 years. Your main focus should be on tools that provide comprehensive data on the department operations and overall expenditure. Then, look for patterns, and find reallocations for your departments’ money to drive greater output.
If your legal department is already using tech, create a list of those tools and meet with your team to understand the full usage and potential (with their pros and cons). This re-evaluation will help determine what is essential and helpful for your team. This can be particularly helpful for legal departments who haven’t made a change to their technology for several years.
Legal Operations = Connectivity
Use your first 30 days to observe your legal department’s strategy and overall mission as this is crucial to understanding your next tasks. Be open-minded and curious during this time, so you don’t push towards ineffective solutions too fast.
In order for any department to work well, you’ll need to focus on connections between legal professionals and between departments. Maintaining good relationships will not only allow everyone to be at their best in their work, but ensures investment in the overall company goals.