Legal ops survey shows departments are doing better but there’s lots of room to improve

The majority of legal departments are successfully improving how they operate. But they need to do more. Those are the main findings of the Blickstein Group’s 2019 Law Department Operations Survey. Operations, the survey finds, are still in a relatively immature phase. With 33% of the legal operations professionals being new to their roles within the last one to three years, this suggests considerable opportunity and room for maturity evolution, say the survey authors.

Survey participants reported business process improvement, cost containment and savings, and management of the budget as top challenges, followed closely by concerns over the management and retention of department resources, staying abreast
of technology, and managing outside counsel. The authors credit technology with fueling these improvements. In fact, survey participants reported improvements across the board in the effective use of technology, as compared with the2018 survey results. Notably electronic signatures and e-billing were both ranked as 8s on a 10-point scale for the first time in the 12-year history of the survey.

But contract management and document management, despite some improvements, continued to trail behind all other technologies for effective use. It’s not that they are less useful, says the survey, but rather that they are not being utilized to the fullest. And, they say, technology can be underutilized too. For example, an e-billing system could be used simply to process invoices. But a more effective use would include spend analysis of the data to identify potential opportunities for process improvements or to determine whether additional in-house resources may be justified.

Even small improvements can add up to significant departmental savings. Survey participants also overwhelmingly gave a thumbs up regarding their perception of the effective use of information that metrics can provide, an increase from about 45% in 2018 to nearly 72% in 2019 who had a positive view about the value of these metrics.

Read the entire survey here.

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