Frequently amid stagnant or diminishing resources, the legal department of the 21st century is tasked with overseeing an increasingly complex array of tasks. As such, legal departments are running more like businesses, looking beyond fundamental cost savings measures to sophisticated strategies—an all-encompassing effort that involves employees, law firms, technology providers, and alternative legal services providers.

Given that legal operations continue to be a fairly nascent field, however, there are few well-established practices or playbooks in which to turn. But Mary O’Carroll, head of legal operations at Google, along with her team of close to 1,000 legal professionals, is a prime example of pioneering innovation in the legal department.

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