A Legal department is essential in ensuring that a company or organization properly discharges its business issues. Its members vigorously make an effort to safeguard its interest in relation to all parties whether within or outside the business. Its members bear distinguishing characteristics which qualify them to set the company’s interests before all other affairs.
This often is accomplished by adopting well-defined rules and regulations. The legal section is regarded as one of the most prominent departments in virtually any company. This is a specialized sector working together with the rest of the sections to be able to achieve the organization ‘s goals and ensure that the company’s activities are in conformity with all laws and regulations. The legal department provides legal consultation and advice as well as reviewing the rules, contracts, and agreements generated by other departments.
Responsibilities of the legal section contain drafting resolutions, letters, memos and participating in balanced administrative decision making. The legal department is further required to express its legal opinion on issues that are referred to it in addition to pleading all cases of the company. What’s more, the legal section is likely to contribute to legal awareness as well as the orientation of company staff by coordinating with various sections and by utilizing the company’s electronic sites.
The rise in civil litigation was a major factor, however, particularly as corporations grew in significant size and had trouble overseeing their considerable assets, thus causing more individual issues that parties were forced to seek legal restitution for (admittedly, the size and liquidity of these corporations made them seductive goals for predatory litigation, as well).
It was this rise in costs that led to the need for paralegals, who could perform legal tasks for far less than a lawyer, consequently limiting the billing prices on the behalf of these companies. Many businesses, however, did one better, taking many legal concerns in-house and creating legal departments, staffed by lower-paid paralegals managed by a selection of business lawyer who took care of the business legal work.
Other important aspects are the legal costs, organizational questions, and coordination problems within the department together with the relationship of the business legal section with the other sections in the enterprise and, last but not least, the connection between house counsel and outside counsel. The increasing volume of legislation and regulations in all industrialized -states resulted in a growth in the number of firm legal departments and company lawyers.
All large firms now have their particular company legal department. Therefore, it seems appropriate to attempt to describe some aspects relating to this part of the legal profession, which is relatively new, and which has developed differently from country to country. The position of the firm counsel and his relationship with the business and its employees, his professional background and his relationship with all the Bar are significant issues which need further study.
Law section accounts for providing legal services and guidance to the business, its offices, and workers. The department office faces a great number of different legal matters. These issues include business development, contract management, real estate transactions, customer claims against the firm for product damages and defects, litigation, employment law, sales and leases matters, debt collection, bankruptcy, case prosecution, and even more. All these actions create the workflow of a Legal section. If to look at the workflow in whole, the following principal functions of the legal department may be seen:
Providing legal advice and guidance
Prosecution of cases in courts and litigation management
Documentation preparation and drafting
Law section Business Operations Directors are increasingly becoming an integral part of most law department management teams with the growing recognition of the value they can bring. These Business Operations Managers are basically chief operating officers for the law departments they serve. They frequently have MBAs, JDs or other advanced degrees, and some are CPAs, attesting to the growing emphasis on the business aspects of providing legal services.
In the most law sections, Business Operations Directors are involved in nearly everything the department does, together with the exception of practicing law and managing attorneys who practice law. Depending on the size of the organization, they may manage anywhere from some of the individuals to groups of 100 or more employees who support the business aspects of the law section.
Fiscal management is typically an important element of a Business Operations Managers role. Responsibilities typically include financial planning, management, and reporting, as well as the development of related departmental practices and policies. Related tasks typically include budgeting and forecasting, working with finance on accruals and reserves, too as measuring performance against budgets. The Business Operations Manager frequently uses key information management tools (e.g., matter management and e-billing systems) to collect and communicate financial information both within and outside the law department.
He or she may serve as the law departments principal liaison with the company’s finance and accounting section and can assist the general counsel in communications with the chief financial officer. Careful financial management helps the Business Operations Director identify the actual drivers of law department expenses and trends, as a way to provide recommendations for cost reduction/avoidance alongside process and functional improvement. The maintenance and reporting of historic financial advice can also help the general counsel identify trouble areas allowing for more informed decision-making and case management.
Related to the purpose of controlling expenses, the Business Operations Manager often guides the sections external vendor relations, including managing seller rates, bill, and compliance with business policies and billing guidelines. In addition to managing the tracking and reporting of vendor expenses, he or she regularly works with the law section, its leadership, and other departments like Procurement to choose vendors, develop seller evaluation tools, identify and address vendor relationship problems, and develop strategies for leveraging and maintaining solid seller relationships.
Outside counsel management
Some Business Operations Directors are also involved in outside counsel direction. Typical roles may be similar to those related to managing other sellers, as an example, taking part in the choice and evaluation of counsel and developing external counsel guidelines and cost control programs. The Business Operations Director could possibly be involved in billing issues and might be a contact with outside counsel for billing and collection concerns, and sometimes for other matters such as litigation support.
Human resources is another area of responsibility for many Business Operations Managers. Commonly, they are involved in the hiring and management of all non-attorney department staff and are responsible for workload allocation, training and development, and performance reviews. They work with the corporate HR department to make sure compliance with corporate policies and to address special personnel problems as they arise. Some are also involved in HR functions associated with section lawyers, including working with all the general counsel to develop succession plans and performance metrics and coordinating lawyer professional development.
Section operations and direction
Business Operations Directors manage day-to-day department operations issues including anything from floor space and equipment to workflow management. As a member of the sections leaders team, they could possibly be involved in strategic planning for the department including the creation of departmental goals and the metrics to evaluate progress toward those targets.
Systems and technology
Many Business Operations Managers are responsible for systems and technology. Because they generally oversee departmental workflow, they’re able to recognize opportunities to improve productivity. They identify the law departments needs, oversee technology programs, develop strategic technology roadmaps and manage the sections technology resources, in particular, those systems and processes which are dedicated to the law section (e.g., issue management or billing). They might additionally serve as liaisons with the corporate IT department regarding technical support of the law department and integration of the law department’s procedures with companywide systems.
Business Operations Directors frequently lead their law sections knowledge management functions, developing and overseeing systems and technology for efficiently creating, storing, and sharing written material. They engage in strategic planning regarding the sharing of information, for example, legal research, transactions, and historical info.
Along with their job in selecting and managing outside vendors including those used for outsourcing and offshoring discovery services, some Business Operations Managers are also in charge of internal litigation support functions. They are often engaged in identifying cost-effective means to support litigation discovery processes, including the approach taken and supporting technology. They may be involved in the development of business-wide discovery procedures and policies.
The Business Operations Manager may also be considered the application manager for various applications within the law section. Program direction is the procedure of managing a group of related projects that are directed toward a common initiative, generally with the target of improving the organization’s performance. The Business Operations Director commonly oversees many different departmental undertakings such as the implementation of new or updated technology. Because of her or his project management expertise, he or she might be asked to help the departments attorneys in implementing project management for legal issues.
Freeing attorney time
Finally, Business Operations Directors give the general counsel and department lawyers the flexibility to perform their primary function satisfying the legal needs of the company. Before, attorneys within the section often performed many of these roles, if they were done at all, which is still the case in many smaller law sections.
A Business Operations Manager frees lawyers from most fiscal and supervisory jobs, allowing the attorneys to dedicate more hours for substantive legal work and client face time. And because they frequently have specialized monetary or other training, law department Business Operations Managers may be better equipped to handle these jobs than lawyers.