How Legal Ops Can Help Drive Faster Contract Reviews


KEY POINTS:

  • With optimal tools and thoughtful strategies, legal ops can lead the organization to a more productive and revenue-generating future.
  • While the average legal ops team only consists of three to four full-time employees, we play a big role in the contracting process.
  • One of the best ways to gain efficiencies for your organization is to automate those functions that are easily repeated and do not require a legal background or lawyer to perform.

When contracting is easy, deals move faster—and not just for the legal team. Sales, finance, procurement, HR, IT, and every other team in your organization benefits from transparent communication and bottleneck-free contract management. Enter the legal ops team.

Today’s economic environment is described as a “sweet spot” for legal operations teams. 1

I have been in legal ops for 15 years and I know that the work I do positively impacts multiple departments—not just legal. With optimal tools and thoughtful strategies, legal ops can lead the organization to a more productive and revenue-generating future. Starting with faster contract reviews!

Here are three ways legal ops can help speed up the contract review process for your organization.

1. Play to your strengths

While the average legal ops team only consists of three to four full-time employees,2 we play a big role. The key is playing to your team’s strengths so that you can structure an efficient in-house department that is set up to efficiently manage a high volume of contracts.

Legal ops teams have to be flexible and make the most of existing resources. Take stock of who comprises your legal department. How many lawyers versus contract managers are there? Who (if anyone) takes on responsibilities outside of their role? Who has the potential to add value in more ways?

Identifying and leaning into your areas of strength can help your team maximize its contribution and demonstrate even more tangible value for the company. Think about CLOC’s 12 core competencies3 and which roles your team already fulfills. Lean into these competencies and look at areas where you are lacking. Then, create a plan to support your team in making these changes.

2. Get Specific on Pain Points

One of the best ways to gain efficiencies for your organization is to automate those functions that are easily repeated and do not require a legal background or lawyer to perform. This is a major way that legal ops can support the legal team.

Some common examples I see of functions that can be easily automated are:

  • Constant and ineffective back-and-forth communication between stakeholders and legal, taking place across different channels (Slack, email, etc.) instead of one controlled space.
  • Lack of detail regarding the contract’s current state: who has it, what needs to be changed, and what the expected timeline is for completion.
  • Performing administrative tasks that can easily be automated or put back onto the business (so legal professionals can focus on high-value work).

To help assess which functions your organization wants (or needs) automated, get specific on pain points. I recommend doing this by interviewing stakeholders, laying out the existing process, and looking for a tech solution that addresses each challenge. You’re looking for concrete ways that technology adds value because people are persuaded by efficient solutions and actual data.

Using a Contract Lifecycle Management solution (CLM) that lets everyone know exactly who’s in control of the document—including past versions of the contract—accelerates and declutters the communication process by enabling waiting parties to contact each other directly. When legal ops teams show that using CLM software increases positive metrics while streamlining the contracting process across the board, the team’s value will be undeniable.

3. Gather your data to measure your impact

Even after you have buy-in from other teams and get a system into place, your job doesn’t stop there. To demonstrate the value that legal ops brings to the table, you need to prove your successes through data.

Share metrics like the number and type of contracts reviewed, the dollar value of each agreement, and the time to completion or review. While you can track these data points using a spreadsheet, gathering these numbers is much easier to do with a CLM that automates these processes for you.

It’s also easier to measure your impact as it relates to other departments when the CLM easily integrates with other departments’ preferred data systems. The data and the results you turn up won’t mean anything if it isn’t clear how the legal metrics interact with overall company metrics. Develop best practices and meet regularly with department leaders to ensure everyone is on the same page with system integrations and how data is collected and used.

Tracking KPIs in a centralized dashboard or CLM can help your team more quickly identify bottlenecks and find solutions. Consider tracking the following to get started:

  • The number of deals touched by legal, broken down by type of contract, annual contract value (ACV), and segment
  • The number of deals legal works on that are third-party paper vs. your template
  • How long it takes to complete the contract review from start to finish
  • Average ACV negotiated by legal

Better contracting process, better business outcomes

With the right tools, legal ops teams can spearhead change based on valuable and actionable insights. In this economic climate, legal ops sets the example of how to do more, with less.

Learn more about “The Art of Legal Ops: Building a Team and Measuring for Success” in Lexion’s upcoming webinar. Along with other legal ops experts, I’ll share:

  • What to look for in a legal operations leader and how to recruit them to your team
  • How to define the responsibilities of the legal ops role to set them—and your department—up for success
  • Which metrics legal ops will track and report on for your legal department

Get free CLE credit and build a team that gets deals done faster. Save your seat here.


1. https://www.legaldive.com/news/cloc-legal-ops-intel-mike-haven-economic-downturn/638883/

2. https://legal.thomsonreuters.com/content/dam/ewp-m/documents/legal/en/pdf/reports/legal-dept-operations-index_2022.pdf

3. https://cloc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/CLOC_CCRM_2018.pdf

 

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