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The state of legal operations: What top professionals are saying

iManage recently hosted a virtual Legal Operations Leadership Summit to bring top legal operations professionals together. Attendees hailed from a variety of Fortune 100 companies across several industries, including financial services/insurance, energy/utilities, entertainment, food & beverage, transportation, and retail.

Through a series of roundtable discussions and live polls, attendees shared their recent experiences as legal operations professionals, focusing on digital collaboration and the tools that make it possible. Read on to see what we learned.

Digital collaboration will continue to be crucial 

With coronavirus cases trending down and vaccination rates on the rise in North America, many companies are beginning the process of bringing their workforce back to the office at least part time. A majority of summit attendees (55%) have mixed feelings about returning to the office post-pandemic, with 35% not looking forward to returning at all. Based on these responses, it appears a hybrid work environment is likely to continue, meaning digital collaboration will still be essential for success going forward.            

Virtual teamwork is the norm

Attendees expressed that working remotely during the pandemic has impacted the way their teams work together. With employees now scattered across different home offices, utilization of digital tools like Microsoft Teams rose sharply. As the use of conversation apps like Teams increased, information governance and secure document handling became key issues. Many participants discussed the need to maintain a secure single source of truth for documents while enabling users to collaborate effectively.

Collaboration spans the organization

Although attendees work with departments across their companies, survey results from the session showed that participants collaborate and exchange documents with finance/accounting (53% of responses) and procurement/purchasing (55%) teams more than other groups internally. They also work closely with compliance (41%), HR/people ops (34%), and operations (41%) teams.

Collaboration with these teams is essential to everyday legal operations functions, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Many participants expressed that document management and security can be tricky when dealing with other departments, who may be using enterprise content systems, network drives, or other tools to store files.                    

Corporate it is an important partner

Alignment between enterprise IT and the corporate law department continues to improve, with 73% of respondents rating their relationship with corporate IT as good or excellent. Attendees ranked security and governance as the area where their team was most aligned with corporate IT, which is good news for a group that deals with as much sensitive information as legal operations. However, some participants felt that their ability to innovate was limited by larger corporate IT priorities.

Decision-makers need data

The ability to demonstrate business value from legal operations solutions and processes was a hot topic of discussion. Participants identified several best practices for building the business case for legal operations, including defined business outcomes (54% of responses), user adoption and satisfaction (42%), hard-dollar ROI calculations (24%), and anecdotal feedback (18%) to show value to decision-makers or stakeholders.                                                                                                

Join us next-time

In a post-event survey, 100% of participant survey-takers said they would attend an event like this one in the future. We look forward to welcoming back return attendees to our next summit, as well as new ones. Follow us on LinkedIn to stay up to date on future offerings for legal operations professionals.

About the author

Gia Tammone-Park