What are legal operations? According to the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium, legal ops can be loosely defined as a “set of business processes, activities and the professionals who enable legal departments to serve their clients more effectively by applying business and technical practices to the delivery of legal services."
“Legal ops provides the strategic planning, financial management, project management and technology expertise that enables legal professionals to focus on providing legal advice,” according to the consortium.
Additionally, legal ops are a multidisciplinary profession that includes backgrounds such as finance, marketing, data analytics and engineering, among others.
In other words, they handle a lot of the business and technological stuff that many lawyers either aren’t trained to handle or don’t want to deal with. All so lawyers can focus on practicing law and representing their clients to the best of their abilities.
A fixture in the in-house world for a long time, legal ops recently expanded into the law firm realm.
In October, Am Law 100 law firm Shearman & Sterling announced that it had set up a legal ops division to provide knowledge management, legal technology, business intelligence and other services for its corporate law department clients.
What does all that mean? And why was this such a unique move for a law firm?
Anthony Widdop, Shearman & Sterling’s newly minted global director of legal operations, spoke to the ABA Journal’s Victor Li about his group’s objectives, goals, current and future projects and uniqueness in the law firm world.