What is legal operations?
Legal operations (also known as “legal ops”), most simply put, is the business support of the legal function.
It involves a multidisciplinary approach to managing a legal organization or department, with the goal of improving efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Though core competencies can vary, they often include such functions as organizational planning, project management, people management, and legal technology.
Legal operations functions encompass all tasks required to achieve success from a business perspective and support teams in providing high-quality and efficient legal services to their internal or external clients.
Legal ops can be present in law firms and in-house legal departments. Ideally, each legal department should be run as if it were its own business. A properly functioning legal ops program ensures that the legal organization is scaling, is strategically focused, is delivering on commitments, and has a seat at the table with the other business units within a company.
Legal ops programs cover areas such as hiring and career development, knowledge management, technology, project management, and more, which are now responsibilities of general counsel and legal departments, regardless of company size and revenue. Many departments or firms may not officially have a legal operations function, but likely already have people supporting aspects of legal operations, whether recognized or not. This is often the precursor to establishing a defined organization or role to discharge the legal operations function.