If you missed it in December, Blickstein Group’s 2019 Law Department Operations Survey has been widely circulated today (8 January) and finds that a majority of legal teams are successfully improving how they operate but much work remains to be done as they strive to overcome a variety of challenges for law department transformation.

With 33% of legal operations professionals being new to their roles within the last one to three years, this suggests “considerable opportunity and room for maturity evolution.”

Survey participants reported business process improvement, cost containment and savings, and management of the budget as top challenges, followed closely by concerns over the management and retention of
department resources, staying abreast of technology, and managing outside counsel. In her executive summary, Heidi Rudolph, managing director of Morae Global says: “I would say technology is one of the commonalities across all these issues.”

Survey participants reported improvements across the board in the effective use of technology, as compared with the 2018 survey results. Notably electronic signatures and e-billing were both ranked as 8s on a 10-point scale for the first time in the 12-year history of the survey.

However, contract management and document management, despite some improvements, continued to trail behind all other technologies for effective use. “It’s not that they are less useful, but rather that they are not being utilized to the fullest,” says Rudolph.

Interestingly, more than half of participants said they now take a quantitative approach to their work – slightly more than 52% reported having a formal metrics programs this year, up from 46% last year, with the programs also reportedly growing in maturity.

Nearly half of survey participants said they are planning or actively developing a strategy to address how they integrate, evolve and replace existing systems in support of their legal department needs and processes.

However, David Cambria, chief services officer at Baker McKenzie and chair of this survey’s advisory board said legal operations professionals still struggle to define themselves and often remain at odds with legal operations professionals within law firms. “Unfortunately, in some cases, those differences are only becoming more entrenched,” he warned, adding, “This is not productive and can be harmful to our clients, their businesses and our own profession.”

You can download the report here: https://abovethelaw.com/2019/12/the-2019-legal-department-operations-survey-report/