Hybrid Work & Technological Solutions


  • The rise of hybrid work has brought with it a host of issues organizations have not dealt with before, and technology is quickly advancing in key areas to address these issues.
  • Virtual private networks and security software are among the solutions developed to protect organizations from security threats on outside hardware and connections.
  • Hybrid work has created jurisdictional issues which organizations must be aware of; solutions which ensure valid taxation and immigration compliance are necessary for the abroad employee.
  • Communication and productivity within a global team must be as cohesive and malleable as in a physical office.

Digital Solutions in Legal Operations

In our previous article, Hybrid Work and Knowledge Management, we discussed hybrid work and knowledge management, and the issues which have arisen from advancement in these areas. Now that they have been identified, we must uncover how technology addresses the issues, and recognize which of those issues apply to your organization. The final step, to be discussed in a latter article, will be the implementation of those solutions into your organization.

For now, let’s start at the beginning – how does technology address the issues raised from hybrid work?

How does technology address security threats which stem from Hybrid Work?

Work at the office, or on-site, is done on a secure system. Remote work, of course, disrupts this control. The question becomes, how can a secure system be replicated in a non-secure environment?

Traditionally, organizations tried to answer this question and manage security through company-supplied laptops and phones. The organization can control how these are accessed and used, and can limit their functionality. When the hardware is the property of the organization, administrative roles can be established, standardized uses enforced, and restrictions implemented.

However, these portable workstations are extremely costly to maintain. An alternative solution lies in Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). VPNs have been around for a long time but became much more popular with the trend of allowing employees to use their own equipment. When connecting through local or personal internet, the VPN creates a secure connection which mimics the end user’s workstation. This mimicked workstation can be physically on the company premises or exist virtually on the company’s infrastructure. This allows for the organization to restrict access to applications and websites and grants an element of control to the business.

Organizations can also enforce or restrict software installation, either on personal or office-supplied computers. This software can offer virus detection or identify inappropriate behaviour. It can also include an automated “kill switch” if something suspicious is detected. There is software which can monitor, control, and report on usage and access, and some software can even enforce the use of a webcam, track eye-movement, record the screen, and measure keyboard usage. While these solutions can be negatively received (they can be overly invasive), they can also be the perfect solution for a specific business.

Physical protection (webcam covers, glare guards) can also answer security concerns arising from hybrid work, but this ultimately falls on the employee to behave appropriately, and not on technology to enforce. We will discuss this further in a future article.

How does technology address jurisdictional restrictions which stem from Hybrid Work?

Remote work allows for users to perform their duties in areas and jurisdictions beyond their own, or outside of the organization. While this is beneficial for the user, there are ramifications which must be considered; tax implications and labour laws must be adhered to, for example. To stay on top of this, the business must be aware of where the individuals are located. Policies and processes which tracks employee locations are effective for this, but technological solutions are also progressing. Providers like Topia deliver reporting and analytics on employee locations with the specific goal of solving tax issues and ensuring immigration compliance.

Hybrid work also allows for recruitment and hiring outside of your organization’s geographic area. As discussed above, remote access and VPNs allow for these users to do the work, but restrictions around teamwork and collaboration become a discussion point. Services like Microsoft Teams, various video conferencing solutions, and software like Miro help address these restrictions. These solutions have existed for quite a while but are today more relevant than ever. They are consistently improving, becoming more user friendly and effective, and so identifying which is right for your organization requires a strong and thorough comparative analysis.

The metaverse also warrants some discussion. While this technology is quite new, there is a lot of excitement around the possibilities it represents. This virtual universe will maintain consistency and remain persistent, something which could become more and more powerful in the future. While today, this might not be the direction your organization moving in, keep an eye on it for tomorrow!

How does technology address communication & productivity issues which stem from Hybrid Work?

As mentioned above, services like Microsoft Teams, various video conferencing solutions, and software like Miro help address these communication and productivity issues. But these tools only provide a means of communicating, and do not address some more overarching concerns. Communication restrictions from language barriers, time zones, and scheduling also require distinct solutions.

Because people can work from home, calls across time zones are more acceptable (people would rather take a 10:00 PM call at home, when facing a 12-hour time difference, than be in the office until 10:00 PM). Shared calendars and schedules are also critical for organizing internal meetings, but this requires consistent infrastructure across offices around the globe, or software which communicates between each area’s distinct solutions.

Connectivity can also be an issue. Today, everything relies on internet access – ensuring the proper reliability and power for your organization is critical. When users in the USA or Canada are working with users in China, lag and connectivity issues can become very problematic. Advancements in internet access are something to consider for your organization. Solutions like Starlink (satellite internet) seem likely to solve issues in locations which struggle with connectivity, but this is not globally accessible today.

So, how do we implement?

We have identified several technological solutions to various problems which have arisen because of hybrid work, but that is only half the battle. How do we know which of these are right for our organization, and once we identify the right solution, how are we going to implement it? Stay tuned for our next article, in which we will discuss the realization of the solution into your organization! Until then, let us know what you think in the comments, and be sure to check out our Blog for other articles on Legal Operations!

Hybrid Work and Knowledge Management


  • The question of how technology can support the Legal Department is driven by the needs of the legal department. This article discusses two key issues technology is trying to solve – hybrid work and knowledge management.
  • Hybrid work has been intensified by the pandemic, and presents unique security threats to the organization (both physical and digital), jurisdictional restrictions, and issues around a restricted talent pool.
  • Because legal operations is so new, it is difficult to know exactly what works and what does not – there is a limited sample size!
  • The questions around knowledge management are: how to acquire and log data, how to convert data into knowledge, and how to maintain knowledge cohesively.

Digital Transformations in Legal Operations

How can technology support Legal Operations? This question has always been asked by the Legal Department, but now it has been amplified by the Great Resign, which has created more emphasis on hybrid work and knowledge management. We have already addressed some answers to the question of technology support Legal Operations in previous articles – in Resourcing and Knowledge Restraints, we discussed how technology can leverage functions, enforce business rules, and reduce the likelihood of human error. In Transparency Through Collaborationwe examined technology’s role in supporting integration with other departments. There are also tools available, such as Onit and Changepoint, which can be used to automate processes and streamline collaboration.

But introducing technology into Legal Operations is not as easy as paying a bill. Implementation requires a thorough understanding of your department. From the onset, you must have set paths, clear responsibilities, and defined expectations. Without this understanding, your implementation will flounder.

The process begins by recognizing what the right digital transformation is for your organization. Once the C-Suite and Board have given this direction, you’ll have to start asking questions. What are the issues that trends and innovations in technology are trying to address? Which of these issues apply to us? Of the applicable issues, how does technology address them? Finally, for the IT team, what does it look like to implement a solution?

This is a discussion too large for a single article. For now, we will address two key issues which technology is trying to solve: hybrid work and knowledge management.

Hybrid Work

Although hybrid work has been a factor for years now, the issue became solidified with the onset of the pandemic. Now more than ever, employees are working from home, and this is not expected to change. Going forward, organizations are likely to have some employees in office, some from home, and many rotating throughout the week. This new dynamic in the organization presents substantial security, jurisdictional, and talent concerns.

Hybrid Work: Physical and Digital Threats Resulting from Hybrid Work

Technological/digital security is easy to control in an office. The organization maintains the network and can address security concerns concretely. Working from home, however, means that employees will be on computers which are not a part of the organization’s secure system. Access to confidential information will be granted on insecure lines. Solutions to technical security include personal VPNs and strict rules, such as no outside internet, or office-supplied laptops.

Physical security, on the other hand, is the issue of data entering the individual’s home, or place of work. Documentation and paper copies which would normally be secured technologically become available to anyone who happens to be in the area. An office is a restricted area, with restricted access. This does not exist for the employee working from home; even the computer screen can be viewed over the shoulder by people from outside of the organization.

Hybrid Work: Jurisdictional Restrictions and Remote Work

Another issue stemming from hybrid work is jurisdictional – people are free to work everywhere, but legally, this is not necessarily true. If an employee is working from a public location (ie. Starbucks), is the data safe? If your company offers flexible work locations, how are you addressing the decisions/requests of employees to work outside of their home or home office location? Is it legal to do the work in a foreign country/state/city/province? Not necessarily! Different jurisdictions represent different rules, tax implications, and labour laws.

Hybrid Work: The Restricted Talent Pool

Tools and roles today demand specific talents and specialized individuals, and because of this increased demand for specific skills, the talent pool has become limited. There are fewer individuals available with the specific skillset required to address your organization’s needs. Because of the hybrid workforce, individuals are free to work or move to areas outside of your geographic area. While this does mean that you are able to hire outside of your locale, doing so will result in exclusively remote work for that individual.

The Tip of the Hybrid Work Iceberg!

There are lots of other issues arising from the hybrid workforce. There will be communication concerns, undefined work hours, and issues around work tracking. How do you address availability issues stemming from time zone differences? How do you track productivity? Are employees as effective as they are in a closed work environment? Does communication over technology suffice? How do you address non-verbal communication? Is team culture/morale the same as it would be in an office? We will discuss all of this in coming articles!

Knowledge Management

The Great Resign has also intensified the need for knowledge management. Employees have been leaving their jobs in droves, and as a result, in-house knowledge is not the same, or as reliable, as it once was. This, in addition to the rapid accumulation of data and the relatively new face of Legal Operations, present unique issues for technology to address.

25% have implemented knowledge management tech

Knowledge Management: What Works in Legal Operations?

Because Legal Operations is a relatively new concept, there are also fewer experts and experienced individuals than there would be in similar roles of a related field, such as IT. This means that there are not a lot of proven methodologies – everything being used is new, and sample sizes of data is relatively small. While we do have an idea of what works and what does not, this knowledge will inevitably evolve as Legal Operations grows.

Knowledge Management: Knowledge Retention in a Fluctuating Environment

This significant fluctuation in people at the organization means that new hires, which include contractors, outside counsel, and new lawyers, will not have the organizational knowledge to rely on that those of the past did. This trend has led to the idea that “knowledge management is more important than lawyers”, and we are seeing this reflected in the numbers.

As people leave the organization, and as projects ends, accumulated knowledge should not disappear. Keeping up with knowledge at the rate it is acquired is extremely difficult to manage – things move rapidly, and if knowledge is not updated actively, it quickly becomes lost. It is not enough to simply log new developments – these changes must be aligned with existing knowledge protocols, so that old information does not fall by the wayside.

Knowledge Management: Converting Data into Knowledge

The other side of the knowledge management issue is the rapid acquirement of new data. To adequately turn this data into knowledge is a major task. If you have backlogs of information and no way to comfortably access it, this information and potential knowledge will essentially be lost. The issues that technology is trying to address here are threefold: how to acquire and log data, how to convert data to knowledge, and how to maintain knowledge in a logical and cohesive way.

Stay Tuned for our Next Article!

In this article we have discussed two key issues which technology is trying to solve: hybrid work and knowledge management. In our next article, we will dive deeper into how technology addresses these issues. Until then, let us know what you think in the comments, and be sure to check out our Blog for other articles on Legal Operations!

Transparency Through Collaboration


  • For Legal to achieve transparency (which we define as how you are doing things, and why they are being done) there must be collaboration up (with the C-Suite and board), across (with other departments and vendors), and within the Legal Department itself.
  • Upwards collaboration requires that the C-Suite and board communicate a clear vision to Legal, who can then develop strategies which align to that vision.
  • Cross collaboration demands that departments consult with each other in shared processes to support the organizational goals and visions.
  • Collaboration within the Legal Department requires that Legal Management communicate the department’s strategies clearly, so that the department can complete work which is aligned to that strategy.

Transparency & Collaboration

In our previous article, we discussed including Legal at the decision-making table. This allows for Legal to move From Reactive Entity to Consulted Partner, which streamlines the introduction of new business decisions into the organization.

This introduction is critical for Legal to function as a business and provide value to the organization. But to find success here, there must be transparency, and this is achieved through collaboration at the top, across departments, and within Legal itself. As we discuss these three areas, consider your own organization and where your Legal Department’s collaborative efforts fall. To get to where you need Legal to be, you must first clearly understand where Legal is.

Collaborating Up – Legal at the Table

Including Legal at the decision-making table is the first step towards upwards collaboration, which creates transparency across business functions and enables a holistic approach to achieving organizational goals and objectives.

Legal joining conversations and contributing to business decisions means that Legal will be participating in discussions beyond their typical scope. It also demands that Legal becomes engaged in prework –analysis on various outcomes and potential solutions, instead of only reacting to a decision. Discussions around Compliance, Ethics and Privacy, Business Risk, Environmental Social and Governance, and even Cybersecurity, will now actively involve Legal.

For Legal to be successful at the decision-making table, there must be a relationship between each party which allows for free, uninhibited communication. There can not be hesitation to discuss issues and threats, and there can not be resistance against these communications. Legal should be attending board meetings and discussing operational issues, business decisions, and strategy development with the C-Suite.

Legal’s role in these discussions is to help make better decisions by addressing legal concerns pre-emptively. Proper implementation in this role will reduce risk and streamline processes by preventing rework; decisions will be made with the legalities in mind, instead of to be considered later. Improper implementation will result in repercussions in the form of rework or risk to your reputation when legalities have not been adequately considered.

This intention must be clearly understood by all parties, as collaboration demands mutual effort. Resentment and misunderstanding will work against the organization, but once universal buy-in is achieved, upwards collaboration enables transparency.

Collaborating Across – The New Scope of Legal     

Where upwards collaboration is about understanding how the Legal Department can support the goals and vision of the C-Suite and Board, cross collaboration is about how the departments support the organizational goal through shared processes. Transparency here is about what Legal doing and how this supports what the other departments are doing. If there is no transparency, departments will fall victim to being siloed – doing work independently of each other, likely resulting in practices which don’t fit into the overarching plan.

In these silos, the flow of information between departments becomes trivial. This restricts knowledge and, in turn, restricts the ability to make sound decisions. Changes to a shared process in one department won’t be readily addressed in neighbouring departments, and so the process itself becomes ineffectual.

Cross collaboration also includes communication between the Legal Department and any external partners or vendors. In these channels, collaboration hinges on Legal’s ability to communicate requirements clearly and in an ongoing manner. There must be an open flow of information to ensure a valid product is delivered.

Again, it is critical to achieve the buy-in of all parties involved. Information must be readily exchanged and available, and there can not be a sense of secrecy or distance between departments. Transparency here means making decisions known, consulting with related teams, and notifying related departments of changes. Eliminating the silo/serial/waterfall approach to business decisions, and instead making them collaborative and fluid in the exchange of information, ensures a cohesive approach to organizational goals.

Collaborating Within – Managing the New Legal Department

The evolving perspective of Legal demands that there is a change in the operation of the Legal Department itself. There will be a trickledown effect – revisions to the operations and strategies within the department will result in changes in responsibilities, workflows, and attitudes.

Legal should be reviewing and revising its existing practices. Are we only doing something because it has been done this way historically? Is there a better way? Is there a need for change? Transparency here is about understanding why and how these changes are happening. You must look at your operations from a fresh lens, revise appropriately, and effectively communicate the reasons to the department. Continuous improvement demands the revalidation and redevelopment of existing practices.

If Legal doesn’t make these efforts, the department is likely to be doing extra, outdated, or unnecessary work. In the best-case scenario, there will be an over-utilization of resources, which can result in issues such as employee burnout. In the worst-case scenario, you will be employing obsolete practices which do not align with organizational goals. While these obsolete practices were likely valid at one point, as the organization evolves, the processes must evolve with it. What worked before may not serve the same purpose today, and it is important for this to be clearly communicated to ensure collaboration and a unified strategy within the department.

Transparency Achieved

A recurring theme in our Legal Operations Series is that of achieving transparency – discovering why you are doing things, and how those things are done. In our next article, we will discuss trends in technology in the Legal Department, and how these tools can be used to support collaboration and transparency.

Until then, be sure to check out our infographic on Collaboration Through Transparency, which highlights the relationships Legal has within the organization, and summarizes Legal’s role in supporting collaboration up, across, and within. Download the infographic here!

From Reactive Entity to Consulted Partner


  • When Legal functions as a reactive entity (which is presented business decisions after they have been made), the department’s due diligence leads to pushback and rework for the decision makers.
  • Rework is a cardinal sin in organizations today; the demand for change and speed does not allow for wasted time and effort, and affects not just the organization, but partners and vendors, as well.
  • To minimize rework, Legal must be moved to the decision-making table, where they can consider the legalities proactively, resulting in better decisions, streamlined processes, and reduced throwaway effort.
  • Transparency (why you are doing things, and how those things are done) must exist across the organization – The Legal department must be transparent, and the decision-making process must be made transparent to Legal, as well.

Legal as a Reactive Entity

The Legal Department has historically been a Black Box – a place where information enters, and it is unclear what happens to it before exiting the other the side. When a new business decision lands at Legal’s doorstep, it enters the Black Box and is frequently met with pushback. This lack of transparency (how things are done, and why they are done) presents a problem to the organization, as it has led to the misperception of Legal as a roadblock.

The pushback is a result of Legal asking questions about legal implications which have not been considered until this point. Even if these questions lead to a positive result, it takes time to get there. If these questions and considerations lead to any changes, then things begin to move in reverse. Either way, Legal being informed after the decision is made results in work to accommodate that decision, and these decisions come from every department across the organization.

Issues raised by the Legal Department frequently result in rework for the decision makers, who must go back to the drawing board. This rework is a cardinal sin in organizations; the demand for change and speed in business today does not allow for wasted time, and not only does rework affect your organization’s time and effort, but it also affects any partners or vendors who are involved in the decision. The threat of pushback from Legal represents a threat to your reputation and partnerships, as well. As a result of this pushback, Legal becomes scapegoated, but this issue is not the department’s fault. This is a collaboration issue.

The solution is to move Legal up in the decision-making process. By shifting Legal from a reactive entity (which is presented business decisions after they have been made), to a consulted partner at the decision-making table, Legal is able to ask questions which would otherwise not be considered until much later in the process. Instead of being expected to accommodate new decisions, Legal becomes a proactive part of the decision-making team.

Legal’s Role at the Decision-Making Table

When closing a deal, the business typically doesn’t care about the legal details – it cares about dollars, cents, and value. The legal implications are an aside to be resolved afterwards. But this way of thinking does not work; legal implications are complicated, and there are no one-size-fits-all solutions to variable decisions. The legal team should not be expected to bend the legal solutions to the decision; instead, they should be expected to bend the decision to the legalities. This can only be accomplished when Legal is at the decision-making table.

By shifting Legal from a reactive entity to a consulted partner, the roadblock misperception is resolved. No more net-new decisions arrive at the Legal doorstep, and thus throw-away effort is minimized. The situation wherein a deal is made, agreed upon, and then legal due diligence prevents the deal from moving forward (ie. conflict of interest) becomes a thing of the past. Legal doesn’t have to push the decision back because they do the pushing proactively.

Not only does having Legal represented at the decision-making table eliminate the roadblock, but it also streamlines the process. Legal due diligence comes as a precursor, not a response. Operational efficiency is improved, turnaround time is reduced, the speed of decision making is increased, and the quality of those decisions are enhanced (“Yes, go ahead” versus “Yes, go ahead, but these are the things to keep in mind going forward”). Having Legal as a consulted partner mitigates organizational risk, and decisions move forward with a more thorough plan (more on this in a coming article!)

Transparency to Drive Conversation

Once Legal has moved from a reactive entity to a consulted partner, transparency (why you are doing things and how those things are done) will be critical to finding success. All parties involved must understand why Legal has become a part of the conversation, and they must understand how Legal is expected to achieve the desired outcomes of mitigating rework and streamlining decisions.

This transition in roles requires collaboration between Legal, other departments, and executives. For this to function correctly, every role must be understood. We have discussed how Legal must become transparent, but from the Legal perspective, decision-making has also been opaque. This must become transparent as well.

In our next article, we will dive deeper into Legal’s role at the decision-making table, and discuss how we can achieve transparency through collaboration with the C-Suite, across the other departments, and within the Legal department itself. Until then, be sure to check out our Blog for more Legal Operations discussions!

Resourcing & Knowledge Constraints


  • Globalization has led to organizations doing work outside of their jurisdiction, which means that legal departments must do work in jurisdictions outside of their area of expertise.
  • By creating transparency, which we define as what work is being done, why the work is being done, and how the work is being done, we can achieve integration within the legal department and collaboration outside of it.
  • The supply of tools which manage standardized work and leverage business functions is substantial, but implementing the right tools correctly into your organization requires transparency.
  • Working in jurisdictions outside of their own has led to a surge in offshoring and outsourcing legal operational work. To capitalize on these opportunities, organizations must clearly understand how their legal department functions.
  • Transparency in the legal department is critical for the business to optimize the value derived from tools, outsourcing, and offshoring.

Achieving Integration and Ensuring Collaboration Through Transparency

Globalization has created a surge in organizational interaction and integration worldwide and has transformed the way business is done. Organizations frequently do work in countries and continents outside of their own, and this demands that organizations have knowledge in all the areas in which they do work. This increase in unique requirements has directly affected the responsibilities and expectations of legal departments.

To solve this demand for global knowledge capital, an enormous number of tools and vendors which supplement legal departments have emerged. Software exists for all kinds of operational work, from process management to data allocation and decision making. Outside counsel is also much more regularly relied upon for expertise in areas outside of an organization’s jurisdiction – differing laws and regulations demand different knowledge sets.

To work in this global economy, implement the correct tools for your organization, and hire the right counsel, organizations must first understand their legal department. Without transparency (which we define as what work is being done, how it is done, and why it is done), integration and collaboration are not possible.

Tools to Alleviate Standardized Work & Leverage Legal Functions

Countless tools have been developed to support Legal Departments for the purpose of removing overhead work, unnecessary tasks, and non-value-added effort from legal professionals. These tools leverage functions, enforce business rules, and ultimately reduce the likelihood of human error, which allows professionals to focus on the work itself, rather than the way the work is done.

Another outcome of these tools is that they have revealed areas where Legal can be providing value, which the department did not recognize before. Integration with other departments, automation of processes, and streamlining of decision-making frees up the time of legal professionals. But to implement these tools, the existing system and processes must first be understood – software requires set paths, set expectations, and set responsibilities. Once these are clear, the ability to remove human labour and automate standardized work becomes incredibly powerful.

Freeing up the time of lawyers is the primary benefit of the implementation of tools, but also relieving the responsibilities of legal professionals and administrative work is substantial. With correct implementation, time and money is saved across the board. This allows for individuals to spend their time on value-added activities. But to discover and implement the right tools for your organization is a matter of understanding how your organization functions and where it requires support. This understanding only comes with transparency.

Offshoring and Outsourcing Legal Processes

Globalization has created opportunities for organizations to work in new jurisdictions, frequently in other countries and continents. Working in these different areas presents unique challenges – different jurisdictions have different laws, expectations, and means of operations. Performing this work requires expertise which in-house professionals likely do not have; their knowledge and experience lies in their place of operation. And even if they do have the expertise, accreditations might not align; can a lawyer in the United States perform legal work in Kenya? The answer is not always clear, and as a result, organizations rely on offshoring and outsourcing their legal processes in these areas.

For clarity’s sake, outsourcing refers to the reliance on a third party who specializes in what needs to be done. While cost efficiencies are a factor here, this work is also typically beyond the expertise of your organization, and as such, is a requirement. Offshoring, on the other hand, is the sending of in-house jobs overseas. This is typically not due to a lack of expertise, but specifically for cost saving and resourcing constraints, and relies on skilled people from the global talent pool to reduce turnaround time. This frequently entails repetitive administrative work and standardized business processes which can be completed elsewhere to reduce costs and relieve effort on the in-house team.

To get value out of both offshoring and outsourcing, transparency in the legal department is required. Without understanding the processes and documentation within the legal department, it is extremely difficult to coordinate who is responsible for what, or how to choose a vendor. Only by clearly analyzing the existing department, their processes, and all their connections can you adequately plan for and decide on outsourcing and offshoring options. Determining who is responsible for what, and tracking all the movement within that determination, is complicated even with transparency. Trying to achieve this without transparency is near impossible.

Should we do the work in-house? Does it make sense to outsource, or to continue outsourcing? Should we hire in-house counsel? Without transparency, without documentation, and without clearly outlined processes and requirements, these questions are difficult to answer. But with the relevant knowledge in place and an understanding of the legal department at hand, you can begin to answer these questions and lay the foundation for long-term success.

Integration Within & Collaboration Outside

The demand for tools, offshoring, and outsourcing options was accelerated by globalization. Organizations recognized that there were opportunities in jurisdictions beyond their own, and as a result, people in these jurisdictions recognized an opportunity for work. Today, the number of tools available is substantial, and there is a seemingly endless global pool of offshoring and outsourcing options.

This onslaught of opportunity for all parties involved lead to organizations better understanding their Legal Operations. Optimal implementation of the tools and collaboration with the resources available demands transparency. What services do we need? Which tools provide these services? Which offshore or outsourced resources meet our needs? Organizations recognize that Legal can be providing value to the organization, which means Legal is viewed as a business that provides value, rather than simply a function of the business.


Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for our next article! Until then, be sure to check out our Blog for more Legal Operations discussions.

More Efficiency With Fewer Dollars


  • Legal departments face budget cuts and downsizing, yet are expected to accomplish more work and deliver more value
  • By creating transparency, which we define as what work is being done, why the work is being done, and how the work is being done, we can ensure greater efficiency in the legal department
  • Establishing formal processes and minimizing standardized work allows for legal professionals to become more productive
  • Transparency is obtained through detailed analysis by a team of internal resources and external professionals
  • Transparency allows for more efficiency in the legal department, and encourages the shift from legal as a function of the business to legal as a business which delivers value to the organization

Optimizing the legal department with transparency

In recent years, there has been a shift in what is expected of Legal departments. It is no longer enough for Legal to simply deliver on requests; today, it is necessary for Legal to create and deliver value for their organization. This shift of the Legal Department from a business function (which delivers on requests) to a business (which delivers value) is a result of several factors, one of which is the increasing demand of the organization to spend less money. Budget cuts and downsizing which traditionally target areas such as Technology and HR now include Legal, as well.

Despite these cost constraints, there are more responsibilities being imposed upon the department. Legal today is explicitly relied upon for strategic planning and business advice and is expected to weigh in on decisions made by almost every department across the organization. There are no extra work hours in the day, so how is it possible to accomplish more work with fewer dollars and less staff?

The solution is to be more effective and more efficient, and to ensure that existing practices genuinely deliver value. To accomplish this, the Legal department must first become transparent – the business must understand what Legal is doing, why Legal is doing it, and how this work is done. Once this transparency is obtained, there must be a strategic evolution in how the Legal Department operates to create transparency in not just Legal’s current state, but the department’s future state, as well.

Creating Efficiency Through Transparency

Legal has historically been a black box – an entity which is not clearly visible or understood from the outside (more on this in a following article). This means of operation is no longer sustainable. To improve upon efficiency and productivity, the department must be fully understood. Legal’s operations, processes, and knowledge management (means of creating, sharing, using, and organizing information) must be transparent. This means that for everything the department does, we must understand why they’re doing it, how they’re doing it, and how it supports the business’s overarching mandate. Only once the existing systems are clear can we begin analyzing and improving upon those systems.

When we look at the existing systems cohesively, we can begin to implement tools and processes to increase efficiency. Templates and playbooks can be developed to enforce standardized approaches to varying situations. Processes can be automated; data and document storage can be formalized. Establishing these protocols results in fewer decisions to be made and fewer discussions to be had. Streamlining knowledge management allows for the Legal Department to do its work without getting bogged down in the process.

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to amending your legal operations. Every organization functions differently and must have solutions developed to suit their individual needs. But for all organizations, the first step is to obtain this efficiency is through transparency.

Streamlining Operations to Increase Productivity

By addressing the processes and knowledge management systems within the Legal department, we can allocate the right work to the right people so that everyone is making the best use of their time. Establishing templates, playbooks, and automated processes (discussed above) removes operational work from lawyers, which allows them to spend their time on the legal work itself. Their responsibilities during each stage of the process become clear, saving both time and money for the organization.

Having established formal processes also ensures that outlier issues and net-new projects will be more manageable. The operational work becomes a question of modifying an existing template or process, rather than establishing and developing a whole new system. Project costs become easier to estimate, timelines become more reliable, and legal review becomes more predictable.

By revealing the existing system and evolving it into an effective and transparent one, legal professionals become more efficient and more productive; their time is spent doing the legal work, rather than deciphering how and when to do it.

Obtaining Internal Transparency through External Resources

The process of unveiling the Legal department’s operations should not be left to lawyers; their training is in different areas, and their time is better left to legal work. Similarly, legal employees might have a good understanding of how the existing systems work, but they might not be in the best position to uncover all the connections, perhaps due to office politics, or perceived conflicts of interest. It is human nature to become emotionally attached, and the perspective of internal people will always contain some form of bias. External resources will not have this personal connection to the organization and will be able to bring a removed perspective to the team.

External resources take a detached, holistic view of the organization, which can be difficult to achieve from the internal perspective. There must be a level of detachment to ask the right questions, and to be sure that all areas are adequately investigated. Internal teams are prone to looking too intensely into factors which do not require a deep dive, and can feel pressured to not ask questions around certain areas (for example, they might feel they are expected to already know the answers). External resources have implicit permission to ask these ‘dumb questions’, because it is understood that they have to learn everything. To do the job right, external consultants must form a partnership with internal employees; their job is not to provide answers, but to ask the right questions so that the team can find the answers together.

Transparency Allows for Efficiency

Transparent Legal Operations allow for Legal Departments to be more efficient with fewer dollars, and to minimize their operational work. These systems are designed to save time and effort, to increase the effectiveness of legal professionals, and to enable legal professionals to ask the relevant questions at the ideal time. Effectively, Legal departments can accomplish more with less.

Because of this revelation in the Legal Department, more integration with the business, surrounding departments, and clients became possible. This inevitably led to further evolutions in legal operations, contributing to the shift from Legal as business function to Legal as a business.

Improved operational efficiency created the opportunity for Legal to do more than just deliver on what is asked of them; it enabled them to start providing value to their organization. Today, this perspective of Legal as a business is no longer a potential by-product of change. It is the goal, and achieving this goal begins with transparency.


Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for our next article! Until then, be sure to check out our Blog for more Legal Operations discussions.

Legal as a Business

The Shift of the Legal Department from Business Function to Business

Legal departments have historically been considered a function of the business; an area which requires funding to deliver on client (in this case, business partner) needs, and an area which does not directly generate revenue for the organization. However, in recent years there has been a shift in how Legal departments are viewed. It is no longer enough to simply deliver on what the client is asking for – instead, Legal departments need to create and deliver the value that the client needs. This transition from business function to business is the cornerstone of modern legal operations. Client needs are changing, and legal needs to provide more value, and evolving value, to keep up with client demands.

This shift has necessitated that Legal looks for opportunities to streamline their processes, decrease rework, and identify opportunities to create value. However, making these changes is not a quick fix. Despite being a necessary component of the business, Legal has always been a black box; an entity which is not clearly visible or understood from the outside. Decisions are presented to Legal, but it is not evident where that information goes, or how funding is allocated.

Under this veil, Legal has been operating as a reactive entity. The business will make a decision, the Legal department will be informed of the decision, and Legal is responsible for accommodating that decision. How that decision is accommodated is not clear; it simply enters the department and comes out the other side. Legal is not fully understood and not well integrated into the business.

It is no longer enough for Legal to operate under this veil, as a function of the business. Legal must now show value to the organization and create value for their clients. But why has this shift occurred? What necessitated the change from Legal as a business function to Legal as a business?

Delivering More Value with a Reduced Budget

Organizations are always looking for ways to save money, and whether this takes the form of budget cuts, downsizing, or outsourcing, the first areas to be targeted are the supporting functions, or those areas which do not directly generate revenue. These areas traditionally have included departments like Technology and HR, but Legal has begun to fall into this category as well. To accommodate this cost-cutting, Legal departments are required to adjust. Creating more efficiency within the department becomes critical; it both streamlines processes and adds value.

The issue though, is that efficiency can not be measured and improved when we can’t see how Legal operates. How can organizations make changes to Legal, and improve Legal, without understanding it? The solution to budget cuts and cost saving becomes transparency. What is the Legal department doing, and how are they doing it? What is their spending, and how is it allocated? How is information moved within the department? Only once these questions are asked and answered are organizations able to understand and improve upon Legal’s efficiency.

Meeting Resourcing & Knowledge Demands in a Globalized World

The ever-increasing number of tools and vendors available has enabled organizations to see how Legal can operate and where the department can provide value. Whereas in the past Legal required human labour, today there are countless service providers with tools that help leverage all kinds of functions. These solutions often replace the need for staff, have the potential to save substantial amounts of money and time for the organization, and remove the likelihood of human error and risk.

Along the same vein, globalization has resulted in organizations working across cities, countries, and continents. Each jurisdiction has their own laws and requirements, and the knowledge expertise to work in these varying jurisdictions requires external resourcing. Knowledge capital must be employed to address change and growth, and outsourcing is necessary to fill this need. But the implementation of tools and knowledge capital requires integration within the department, as well as collaboration with other tools, individuals, peripheral departments, and external partners.

The question becomes, how can we know what tools and knowledge capital we need when we don’t know how Legal operates? How can we adequately implement without understanding the department’s functions and workflows? Transparency, again, is paramount. The organization needs to understand how Legal works and where it’s pain-points are; only then can it develop and improve upon efficiency. The lines have become blurred, and to determine the best option requires transparency.

Circumventing the Legal Roadblock & Building Operational Efficiencies

Legal departments have traditionally been a time sink. Decisions are made by the business, and Legal is required to weigh in on those decisions after-the-fact. This increases the timeline after the decision is made, and any changes or objections made by the Legal department further slow the process. Legal ramifications must be understood before the decision becomes reality. This is true for many facets of a business – HR, deals, purchasing, finance, marketing – Legal’s interpretation is necessary with them all. So, when the due diligence of Legal is a serial process instead of a parallel one, it costs the business both money and time.

This raises the question of how to remove the Legal roadblock. How does the department adjust to stop slowing down the project? The solution is to improve operational efficiency by moving Legal up in the decision-making process. Instead of providing Legal with the decision and awaiting their response (potentially resulting in throwaway effort), Legal must be involved in the actual decision making. Having Legal function as a stakeholder reduces turnaround time, reduces time spent after-the-fact, and allows projects to be analyzed along with the process. Ultimately, when Legal due diligence is completed in parallel with a project, it reduces risk to the organization.

To make these adjustments to Legal’s operations requires that the Legal department joins the conversation and collaborates with their peripheral departments. Legal must understand what is going on around them, and the other departments must understand what Legal’s role is, as well. Once again, transparency is the critical factor in establishing this shift. And we need to look at this shift in two ways; from the Legal perspective, projects have historically been under a veil, as well. To have Legal act as a stakeholder, Legal can no longer be left in the dark, either.

Unveiling the Legal Department

Ultimately, the shift of Legal from a business function to a business is due to several factors, but the first step in making the transition lies in transparency. Legal departments can no longer operate on their own, as an enigmatic but necessary function within a business. They must be recognized and analyzed, so that the organization can understand what value they currently deliver, how they deliver it, and where that value can be improved.

In our next articles, we will dive deeper into the problems which have necessitated the shift from Legal as a business function to Legal as a business.