Feats, Failures and the Critical Conversation You’re Not Having
Since we launched Xakia’s Legal Operations Health Check earlier this month, we’ve enjoyed studying the responses and patterns from the survey. (We’ve said it before – we really love data.) So far, the Legal Operations Health Check has garnered responses from in-house counsel across two continents, all sharing their progress toward key legal operations initiatives like budgeting and knowledge management.
Over the next few months, we’ll share our findings from the Legal Operations Health Check, including trends and benchmarking data. Up first: Workflow Management – the art and science of accepting, completing and evaluating assignments from your business clients…or what we call “help me help you.”
Clients Know When (and How) to Call
Here’s the good news. Most respondents said their internal customers know when to consult the legal department; on the statement “Our customers know and follow protocols about when Legal Department involvement is required,” 49 percent rated their organizations at least moderately well.
Similarly, about one-third of respondents said their customers know and follow processes for engaging the Legal Department at least moderately well, and another 25 percent have processes in place, albeit with less than ideal adherence to policy.
Areas for Improvement
The survey shows a number of specific tactics that are not yet widely adopted by legal departments, but that could make workflow management more expedient and wieldy:
- Dynamic intake forms: More than 60 percent of respondents do not use legal instruction forms with specific and responsive questions based on the type of work. Less than 5 percent of respondents said they do this well and continuously improve upon it.
- Self-help tools: For regular and low-risk work that doesn’t necessarily warrant Legal Department involvement, “self-help” tools and guides can help customers troubleshoot, but half of respondents do not use them. Of those who do, most say they do not do it well, or the tools do not currently meet their needs.
- Collaboration: 57 percent of respondents do not have a system that facilitates collaboration between customers and the Legal Department as they complete work. On one encouraging note, 8 percent said this was in development.
- Updates: Two-thirds of respondents do not have a system to provide regular, automated progress updates to customers on their projects with the Legal Department. Only about 5 percent of respondents rated their department’s use of such a system “moderately well,” and zero said they fared better than moderate.
- Ratings: Fewer than 15 percent of respondents said they have a system that allows business customers to rate the support they receive from the Legal Department. The most popular answer: “We do not have this but recognize its value,” with 39 percent.
The Critical Conversation You’re Not Having
The Legal Operations Health Check shows that 69 percent of in-house lawyers do not conduct a regular review – annual, at least – of their high-volume, repetitive work to identify inefficiencies and outline solutions. Only about 15 percent currently do.
It is essential to examine these matters. Too often Legal Departments are inundated with them; almost half of in-house counsel say they spend too much time “fighting fires” to achieve any long-term goals, according to a FindLaw survey. For simple, repetitive matters, automation or inexpensive outsourcing may be a solution. Data can show you which business units are generating this work; you can train them or provide self-help tools for swift resolution.
If you have not yet participated in the Legal Operations Health Check, complete it today. The survey takes about 30 minutes to complete, and it works on your desktop or your mobile device. There is no cost to participate, and after completing the survey, you will receive:
- An overall health score, as well as scores for each category
- Benchmarks for departments in the same industry
- Benchmarks for departments of similar size
- Recommended priorities and resources
Bonus: If you’re heading to CLOC’s Annual Legal Operations Institute April 22 to 25, the Legal Operations Health Check can help you select your sessions; we have identified program offerings that correspond to needs identified in the survey. This will help you make the most of your conference by focusing on your time on the subjects most relevant to your department.