Financial control: Lexis report digs into legal ops key priorities

Given the rapid rise in legal operations professionals manning the gateway to the in-house legal world, any insight into their key priorities can be said to be useful and a new report from LexisNexis CounselLink examines just that.

The study, conducted in partnership with Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), finds that metrics used to assess financial outcome and achieve financial control are highest in legal ops professionals’ list of priorities by a country mile.

Given three key legal department metrics to rate in importance: financial control; outcome and/or risk management; and operational efficiency, financial control dominated the top six.

Total department spend vs budget was rated highest, followed by outside counsel spend. Budget forecast and accrual accuracy was next, with outside counsel spend by matter vs budget in fourth place. In fifth and six place were outside counsel spend savings achieved and cost per matter (OCS + settlement costs).

Also in the top 10, legal ops professionals said metrics measuring satisfaction with law firms (ie law firm scorecards) are important; department workload cycle time (turnaround for NDAs etc); use of alternative fee arrangements; outside counsel cost compared to peers; and cost per phase of a matter (ie case assessment discovery.)

The picture is different, however, when LexisNexis asked respondents to rate their satisfaction with their ability to report on the various metrics.

Here, while legal ops professionals report a fairly high level of satisfaction in their ability to report on core areas such budget and outside counsel spend, their overall satisfaction was in some cases well below 5/10 or even 4/10 when it came to metrics for measuring law firm satisfaction; workload cycle time; AFAs; outside counsel cost compared to peers; cost per phase of matter; outcome satisfaction per matter by unit (ie hourly); and diversity of firms or outside counsel.

Perhaps most interestingly, there is a direct correlation between these areas where legal ops professionals feel less satisfaction in their ability to report, and those where they said there was very little automation. Clearly automation does exist and there are opportunities to enable legal ops professionals to report more easily on these metrics, but the fixation on spend is the big giveaway. 

You can see for yourself here: