The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) states that legal operations is a multi-disciplinary function that optimizes legal services delivery to a business or government entity by focusing on core competencies, which are broken into three levels: foundational, advanced and mature.

Regardless of where your legal department stands in relation to these competencies, the session titled “Building a Mature Legal Operations Function” at the 2018 Annual CLOC Institute provided some valuable insight to move your department along its path to improvement and maturity. The session addressed the challenge facing many legal departments to act tactically but think strategically. If your department is in the early stages of maturity, for instance, the session advised that you seek some quick wins to demonstrate progress but do not lose focus on the larger strategic development plan.

As your legal department continues to advance, there may be issues within the department that can impede progress. One common issue comes when the team, or certain members, are focused only on today and operating reactively. A second area of concern is that people will not let go of the “that is the way we always did it” mindset. And a third challenge that most teams will face comes at the intersection of unlimited possibilities and limited resources.

The session encouraged specific approaches to minimize these challenges and give the department an opportunity to reach greater potential. For example: as your legal department begins to make changes, identify easy wins and share those within the department and with key stakeholders to build support and confidence in the changes. You should instill a safe environment supporting your legal department colleagues as they try new things and encourage them to look for helpful lessons whether the new idea is a success or falls short. An additional approach is to create a project management mindset within the team to help eliminate unnecessary process and become more efficient. And finally, continuous and open communication within the legal department and the organization can help provide clarity of your department’s objectives and goals.

The advantage of evaluating the maturity level of your legal department during the Annual CLOC Institute conference is the opportunity to tap into the repository of knowledge, skillset and experience from the legal operations professionals and vendors who can help your legal department become a more mature function within your organization.