Peer to Peer: ILTA's Quarterly Magazine

Issue link: https://epubs.iltanet.org/i/1489228

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29 I L T A N E T . O R G L egal operations teams are tasked with improving the operational performance of the law departments that they support. However, in an environment where time is limited, resources are under pressure and many projects are critical, how can legal operations leaders ensure their people spend time on the most value-adding activities? This article highlights how legal operations teams could increase their chances of success by narrowing focus to a limited number of high-impact projects and initiatives. With the backdrop of an uncertain economic climate, this article provides a practical framework for legal operations professionals to identify common and uncommon sense, while reducing common and uncommon non-sense 1 . This framework helps to increase user adoption, refocus team efforts on a simplified set of priorities and manage costs for the organization. Legal Operations Teams Many Legal Operations teams are early in the maturity cycle. Some organizations do not have any legal operations professionals. Others have a small number of employees but lack an end-to-end framework to manage a broad array of technology, processes, and data. In this context, it can be difficult to get started. For others looking to develop a strategy to help with the operational design and implementation of a legal operations function, it can be easy to look at what others are doing. However, this does not sufficiently consider the context of your environment: the culture, legacy of previous change interventions, leadership, current processes, capabilities, and governance among other factors for consideration. Imitation can only go so far. While there is some benefit in learning from what others have done, a cookie cutter approach to legal operations design and implementation will be sub-optimal. To achieve competitive advantage, we need to more critically consider whether what everyone else is doing is right for the context we find ourselves in. We also need to look beyond conventional wisdom, to what others are not doing, but could be valuable for the law department and its internal customers. The Correlation of Change and Failure Statistics show that two-thirds of change interventions fail. While the statistic that such a large proportion of change interventions fail is one that should be questioned more critically, it is true that many change interventions fail to fully realize the benefits that were originally envisaged. Why is this? This is particularly challenging for proactive law departments looking to make change happen through legal operations. While change is difficult for us all, lawyers are not known for openly embracing change. This is because lawyers are trained to be risk adverse. Change equals risk in every lawyer's eyes. However, if you're a leader looking to make change happen through legal operations, you need to look beyond common sense, to create a program that mixes the best of your internal capabilities and ways of working, with those of what others are doing in the market. At the same time, you want to limit your organization's own idiosyncrasies that sometimes get in the way of making change happen, and not fall foul to what everyone else is doing – for ultimately little benefit to the organization. A decade ago, a business book 2 from Jules Goddard and Tony Eccles put forward the notion that the application of "uncommon sense" – thinking and acting differently from other organizations – is the secret to competitive success. Newly formed legal operations teams looking to stand out and make a difference need to step away from what everyone else is doing and identify elements 1,2. Goddard, J. and Eccles, T. (2013). Uncommon sense, common nonsense: why some organisations consistently outperform others. London: Profile, Impr. , Cop.

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