Those of you who know me know that the beginning of my career and the launching of this magazine are interrelated. Helping to launch what was then known as Corporate Legal Times was my first professional highlight, and building that first circulation list was my first ever bet-the-company project. And my work with the legal support providers that served the corporate market laid the groundwork for my “second act” as a consultant.
With all that history, it is especially gratifying to be collaborating with InsideCounsel (and our long-time partner, Huron Legal) on the Annual Law Department Operations Survey. Now in its seventh year, it is the only survey dedicated to benchmarking the operations of legal departments in areas including staffing, technology, e-discovery, cost management, metrics/reporting, and relationships with outside counsel.
Since 2008, the survey has been tracking the rise of the law department operations (LDO) professional. Back then, many companies viewed law department operations as an afterthought: The pervasive opinion was that “legal is different” and that law departments wound not necessarily benefit from professional management.
The results of our 2013 survey tell a different story, at least in relation to technology. Planning is on the rise: 83 percent of respondents “have or plan to develop a legal department technology strategy or three-year roadmap which addresses how they integrate, evolve and replace their systems to support the legal department’s processes and needs.” Technology is evolving, too, with almost half planning to “improve or evaluate a new matter management and/or e-billing systems in the next 12 months.”
The increase in professional management has also had a pronounced impact on the discovery process. Almost all responding legal departments handle at least some e-discovery processes in-house. “Preservation/legal hold” leads the way with 92 percent handling the process “entirely” or “sometimes” in-house, and all processes except predictive coding are being handled in house (entirely or sometimes) by at least half of the responding law departments. In fact, in 2013 a full two-thirds of respondents say they feel “in control” of their discovery process.
Since its inception, our Advisory Board Chair has been David Cambria, who is now global director of operations of law, compliance and government relations at Archer Daniels Midland. David and I collaborated on the first questionnaire—and every one since—and his support has been critical. He also knows as much about law department operations as anyone I’ve ever met. “Along with cost containment and control, today’s LDO professionals also feed into larger corporate initiatives as diverse as information management, cyber security, compliance, business continuity, staff supervision, Sarbanes-Oxley issues, managing IT, change management, C-suite board reporting, contract management, productivity enhancements, regulatory support, risk management and project management,” he says.
I expect you are sitting there with two questions: “How can I get my hands on this crucial information, along with literally dozens of other, similar data points?” and “How much does it cost?” I have simple answers that I think you will like. All you have to do is take the 2014 survey, and there is no cost to participate. Once you’ve filled in the online questionnaire, contact me directly and I will immediately deliver the full 2013 results package.
Please go to http://bit.ly/TB2ru1 and fill out the questionnaire, which will be available online through July 22. It’s a simple deal—help us collect information and we will in turn provide benchmarking information back to you. Remember, nobody wins unless everybody wins.