Legal operations is a growing function in innovative, fast-moving legal departments. It manages improving the efficiency and processes for the legal team, including optimizing workflows and improving contract management, technology, and data support. Because this is a fairly new specific area of expertise for legal teams, the key characteristics for this type of hire are not entirely defined across the board and different industries.
Here’s a guide to the core qualities you want in a legal operations hire, and how to express those needs in your company’s job description.
Core qualities in first legal ops hire
While this is an ideal quality for any hire in your organization, it is a quality that is crucial to the legal operations role. As a team member whose task is to improve the overall ins and outs of the legal team’s processes and workflow, proactively looking for ways to enhance things is key.
For example, spearheading automated initiatives. Whether it’s e-billing or online contracting, digging into technology systems that improve the overall workflow of the legal team is a must. Hiring someone with a legal background and penchant for operations—better yet, a passion for technology—is a good place to start. In fact, some legal operations folks got their start as paralegals.
Data-driven: Immersed in evolving legal innovations
The legal world is ever-evolving, and a passion for being at the forefront of innovation is significant to your legal team moving forward with the times, particularly for businesses at high-growth companies like e-commerce sites.
Qualities to include in a job description could include a background in research, analytics, and administrative work supporting a mid to large-size legal team. Forty-nine percent of respondents in the ABA’s 2019 TECHREPORT and Legal Technology Survey Report on legal tech trends say they have used legal analytics in the past year to help better their workflows across the board. Having a dedicated operations team lead that champions leveraging new and existing data to improve the legal team’s processes and daily tasks strengthens this best practice across the entire organization.
An example would be leveraging a technology tool that provides visibility and insights into contract management so you can proactively manage risk. What if you could see who accepted what, when, where, and how without involving anyone technical? What if that tool also allowed for developer-free integration capabilities? Having an operations manager to source and implement tools that make attorneys’ jobs easier is an easy, simple step to efficiency in 2020.
Strategic: Thinking outside of the box
A true asset to the legal department is a legal operations manager that understands the legal organization’s role, its goals, and thrives on developing creative ways to meet said goals—and how it’s done. Having a strong business acumen sets a candidate apart from others. This person must know how to work collaborative with not only the legal team, but departments across the entire organization.
Sample Job Description
We’ve provided a sample job description below as a boiler-plate template. Cater towards your business’ specific needs, and download our guide, Building A Legal Ops Department from Scratch, for more tips.
We are seeking a motivated individual with a passion for innovating to join our growing legal team. This position will work closely with our legal department as well as other departments across the organization. As a legal operations team member, your role will consist of development enhancements to existing workflows and processes, as well as creating new ones that benefit and help scale our growing business.
Identify technology tools that our legal team can use to improve their daily tasks and project workflow
Manage budget for new and existing internal and external initiatives
Data analysis around external engagements and ways to improve them or make more efficient
Collaborate with cross-functional teams like sales, finance, IT, and more to improve internal communication and ways we work together
Set goals and metrics that align with our business’ high-velocity growth goals
Passion for digging into existing and new data, identifying ways to improve processes and workflows.
B.A. or B.S, and 2+ years of legal project management (preferred)
Self-starter that’s motivated by new challenges and opportunities
Proven ability to work with multiple teams successfully across an organization
Technology-savvy and passion for new and innovative tools
Building out a legal ops department from scratch
Building out a mature legal ops function is more than making one (crucial) hire. Read up on how else to prepare your organization for a legal ops department in our eBook, Building a Legal Ops Department from Scratch.