When I got back from CLOC last month, I was amazed at the various roles and responsibilities shouldered by legal operations staff. Still one of the fastest growing roles in legal departments, the responsibilities often assigned to these teams are varied and all over the map in terms of impact on the business, not just the legal department.
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Jonah Paransky of Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions explains how law departments will deliver value with operational rigor. His remarks have been edited for length and style.

CCBJ: How has the corporate legal department’s role expanded beyond its traditional responsibilities?

Jonah Paransky: There are several key items worthy of notice. The first is there’s been a sea change in expectations for how corporate legal departments will operate.
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Thanks to ongoing technological improvements to enterprise legal management software, in-house operations are more efficient than ever. Dan Ruderman of LexisNexis CounselLink has worked in this space for decades and has seen the ways the broad implementation of legal spend management systems have helped attorneys become more focused – and helped law departments bring down their overall costs. His remarks have been edited for length and style.
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For 10 years now, the Blickstein Group, in cooperation with Consilio, has been surveying Legal Ops and other law department professionals, focusing solely on the operations function and seeks to provide benchmarks that are useful to the largest law departments. They have just completed the 2017 survey, sponsored by QuisLex, Exterro, Onit, Wolters Kluwer, Legal Decoder, iManage and HighQ, and the results are fascinating as always.
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Susan Hackett is a law practice management and legal operations consultant; she founded her firm, Legal Executive Leadership, LLC, after serving for more than two decades as the general counsel of the Association of Corporate Counsel. One of her best known initiatives at ACC continues to occupy her in her current practice: promoting the use of value-based or alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) to make costs more predictable, transparent and aligned with the value of the legal services provided – for both firms and clients.  Her remarks have been edited for length and style.
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Thomson Reuters recently released the first edition of a new semiannual report focused on legal department operations. It’s called the Legal Tracker LDO Index Benchmarking & Trends Report, which puts it squarely under the company’s e-billing and matter management brand, Legal Tracker. (Tracker evolved out of Thomson’s 2010 acquisition of Serengeti and has become the most widely used e-billing platform in the world.)

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