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What are the steps to take when moving into a legal ops leadership role?

A high-level strategy, assessment of the business’ maturity and an appreciation for the importance of change management are all needed if one is to succeed when stepping into a leadership role in legal ops, argues one counsel.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 05 November 2019 Corporate Counsel
Shell Australia


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Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Shell Australia projects and knowledge management counsel (integrated gas, upstream, central legal services) Alison Clegg said it is integral, right off the bat, to assess what the current level of maturity the organisation has in each area of legal ops.

“This will also help you decide what to focus on first. Also, assess which potential work streams are going to take a long time versus any work streams which can be implemented fairly quickly – pick a mixture of things to get started on,” she said.

“Finally, think about how you want to be perceived in your new role to help your success – act consciously to make this perception a reality!”


When it comes to creating and executing a new strategy, she said: “I think an overall high-level strategy is critical because it is your sales pitch which everyone should be able to understand but in terms of the plan, think agile – break things up into small chunks and celebrate success along the way and most important of all – make change management a really big part of your planning and also your implementation.”

But one must be aware of what works and doesn’t work when it comes to executing the right strategy, Ms Clegg warned.

“Failing to appreciate the importance of change management; not communicating well with stakeholders and/or those whose work you are trying to influence. Also, failing to work across other parts of your organisation and understand how what you are trying to do impacts on other processes etc,” she said.

Moreover, leaders in legal ops need to be aware of looming challenges, including “trying to do too much, rushing ahead with the introduction of new tech without focusing on the fundamentals first”.

This all notwithstanding, there is much for one to enjoy and appreciate when stepping into such a role, Ms Clegg noted.

“If you are passionate about seeing things work well – this is not really a role for someone who wants to be in the limelight – this is a role for someone who is a collaborator and is good at getting things done,” she said.

“This is also a role which can be exciting because it is a growing area of our profession and great for anyone who could be looking for a chance.”

The comments from Ms Clegg follow those of ANZ head of legal operations Elliot Leibu, who told Lawyers Weekly that when moving into a leadership position in legal ops, one must look to prioritise, plan and build connections as a first port of call.

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