The introduction of legal operations roles within law firms is a growing trend, with a recent appointee at Baker McKenzie highlighting the benefits such positions create for clients.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, David Cambria, who was recently appointed the global director of legal operations for Baker McKenzie, shared how these roles can help law firms provide more tailored solutions to clients.
While traditionally the role of legal operations has been thought of as something primarily seen in the in-house space, Mr Cambria said there are several ways the legal operations function in private practice can better service law firm clients.
The first, according to the global director, is that the use of legal operations in law firms helps to define “the practice wisdom that our professionals internally have in their brains” that is not natural or intuitive to lawyers in every instance “as to how they actually impart that practical practice wisdom to their clients in a way that’s usable beyond just a specific matter”.
Having the legal operations capability and thus the ability to deliver such services effectively and efficiently within a law firm can help an office of a general counsel to “explain why the things they are doing are actually an impact on their competitive advantage”, Mr Cambria continued.
He said legal operations can aid in explaining and talking about why decisions are being made, where it can be backed by data, processes and technology.
Further, Mr Cambria called the function “an enabler” for the genera counsel “to best position himself or herself to their C-Suite around the value that the law department is providing”.
“And at the end of the day, a lot of what the general counsel is trying to show their colleagues is the value they are providing to the underlying business,” he said.
The second way the legal ops function can provide better service resolves around the professional being “someone who understands the pressures that are unspoken or oftentimes not articulated well by the general counsel internally to the practice and what they are delivering”.
“Having those skills internally, [and] having someone to translate that or a team that helps translate that, really becomes a differentiator from one provider to the next,” Mr Cambria said.
He noted law firms need to be “very vigilant” about how they pull together different pieces of practice wisdom from areas of a firm “in order to come up with a holistic approach” to the use of legal operations.
Questions for firms utilising legal operations should include what the buyer is struggling with, how sophisticated that buyer is in terms of a legal operations skillset, and what the business objectives, strategies and goals are that a client is trying to go after, Mr Cambria said, while consideration should also be given to whether a client is actually ready to consume a lot of what is being talked about.
While acknowledging it as a challenge, Mr Cambria said it is “ultimately manageable, but one that actually takes time”.
“You have to be very thoughtful about how you go into the market and how you actually present to the different personas that you are dealing with on a regular basis,” he concluded.
Wondering how legal ops will impact on your work moving forward? Watch the free Lawyers Weekly webcast featuring Google's director of legal operations, technology and strategy, Mary O'Carroll, this Thursday 28 March.