When creating a vendor management process, consider these best practices.

Every company wants the best results from their legal partners, but when evaluating the performance of multiple outside law firms, it can be difficult to know where to start.
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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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There is an undisputable tension in the legal ecosystem. How do you explain it? Is it a natural tension that flares up every other decade? Is this the last industry to finally embrace technology? Is it a perfectly normal cycle that occurs from a macroeconomic perspective when innovation forces change? Or a combination of them all? There is obvious change evident in the pace of legal technology advancements, but that is only one part of the broader ecosystem. Here’s where that evolution is happening.

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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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When Matt Fawcett took over as general counsel at NetApp, Inc. in 2010, he knew he wanted to create a legal operations department. He didn’t know he would hire Connie Brenton to start it, and he couldn’t have known how important that early decision would be – or the influence the department they created would have. Fawcett spoke about why he wanted an ops department and the early missteps he wishes he could have avoided, but from which he learned a great deal. The interview has been edited for length and style.
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Based on my research, during the past five years at least 90 different U.S. organizations published reports based on 190 surveys of U.S. law firms or law departments. That plethora of legal-industry surveys addressed a wide swath of management data. An analysis of the topics finds that compensation, e-discovery and outside counsel cost control were frequent topics, but all manner of other data inquiries were also carried out. The sponsors were primarily publishers, vendors of software or services, bar associations and consultants. At least half a dozen law firms and several trade groups also launched surveys.
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