Correction: FTI Consulting launches expanded corporate legal operations practice 

Corrected on 21 October:  We initially said that FTI is launching a legal operations practice but it is expanding the offerings from its existing practice.

FTI Consulting has become the latest to announce that it is expanding its legal operations capability, with its practice now helping corporate legal departments with a range of areas including business strategy alignment, legal technology adoption, processes and spend management. 

FTI says that its team will deliver assessments with actionable roadmaps for program improvement, alongside comprehensive services and technology that support the entirety of legal operations transformation. 

The importance of legal operations has grown significantly in recent years, with economic and business drivers placing increasing emphasis on the need for corporate legal departments to streamline processes, reduce operating costs and implement automation. 

According to a Blickstein Group study, nearly half (44%) of legal departments report that they need to update their core technologies to do this. However, 60% of legal operations professionals said in the same study that business process improvements are their number one challenge.   

“Every legal department is unique, from the industry challenges they address to their technology stack and resourcing strategy,” said Meredith Brown, a senior managing director and global co-leader of FTI Technology’s Corporate Legal Operations practice. “Our mantra is that we meet our clients where they are, whether they need help in a particular area — such as strategy alignment, staffing, technology, process improvement or measurement — or in a particular phase of their legal transformation journey. For many legal departments, they know they have operational difficulties but don’t know where to start. These challenges often lead to false starts, stalled projects and frustration. To address this, we’ve expanded our assessments offering, so that clients can understand exactly what’s needed to drive improvement.” 

Others to have launched legal operations practices in the last couple of months include Shearman & Sterling, while KPMG in September launched a Legal Function Assessment Suite, which will help in-house legal teams to analyse their processes and work out what technology is most suitable to help them become more efficient.

Led by KPMG’s Legal Operations and Transformation Services (LOTS) team, the new ‘target operating model assessment’ will be applied via surveys across the business to obtain sufficient data to work out how a legal team is currently operating and the changes that they can and should make. Alistair Griffin, who is head of legal technology and a director in LOTS told Legal IT Insider that legal teams often find themselves in a catch 22 situation where they don’t have the data to make the case for legal technology, or the legal technology to generate that data.

You can read about Shearman’s new offering here.

Comment: Legal operations practices are turning out to be a bit like buses. Under-resourced in-house legal teams are now almost spoilt for choice when it comes to advice on how to run their department and what technology to select. Much like I observed when Shearman launched its legal operations practice this month, in many ways it is a surprise that the legal team needs to go outside of the organisation to be told how to adopt their legal technology better, particularly when it comes to enterprise systems such as Salesforce or Microsoft. But they most definitely do, and with business process improvement the number one priority for most, we can probably expect to see more organisations launch or expand their legal ops practices.  

Legal Operations by Shearman – What it is, and what it’s not