The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) recently posted a Legal Operations Career Skills Toolkit on its “Industry Guidelines” page. The toolkit’s stated purpose is to help “individuals and legal departments evaluate and develop legal operations skills.” Law students, lawyers, and other professionals will find it to be an excellent resource for assessing and building their legal-service delivery skills. While the toolkit serves as an excellent roadmap for a legal operations career, it also offers tremendous insight into the legal-service delivery skills that clients value.
Traditional lawyers and law students should take a close look at the CLOC toolkit. First, corporate legal departments are building new legal-service delivery platforms by rethinking how to get the most from people, process, and technology. What about your firm’s platform? How does your firm use people, process, and technology to deliver services? How does your firm use process improvement, project management, knowledge management, metrics, data analytics, and technology to provide greater value to clients?
Second, how do traditional lawyers rate when assessing their own legal-service delivery skills? Clients value these skills. Every client hears from prospective lawyers and law firms that they are great trial, deal, tax, intellectual-property, health-care, etc. lawyers. Yes, it’s necessary to be a good lawyer, but it’s not sufficient. Clients correctly assume that many lawyers could do most of their work reasonably well. This presents opportunities for lawyers to differentiate themselves through superior legal-service delivery.
When a prospect asks about process improvement and project management, can you engage in the discussion? If a prospect asks, “Waterfall or Agile?” can you respond? Have you created metrics for efficiency and quality and thought about how to capture “small data” and use third-party data sources? When a prospect asks how you use technology, can you talk about document automation, expert systems, technology assisted review, and other varieties of artificial intelligence?
This is not to say that lawyers need to develop expertise in these areas. But when clients are using skills and tools to improve legal services, those who hope to be their lawyers should at least be able to engage in a discussion about those skills and tools.
Finally, traditional lawyers should recognize opportunities not only to improve efficiency, but also to improve quality and substantive outcomes. Process improvement, project management, knowledge management, data analytics, and technology skills and tools can eliminate low-value drudgery, freeing lawyers to spend more time working on challenging problems. Lawyers can also use these tools and skills to improve law practice and deliver better results for clients. Lawyers should be at the forefront, working with process and project managers, data scientists, technologists, and other professionals to improve legal-service delivery.
CLOC divides legal-operations skills into IQ (“hard”) skills and EQ (“soft”) skills:
- Business Operations
- Data, Analysis & Reporting
- Knowledge & Content
- Outside Counsel
- Process & Project
- Substantive Law
- Talent & People
- Project Management
For each skill, CLOC provides links to five “reading” and five “education” resources—180 skill-building resources.
In an industry sorely lacking in best practices and standards, CLOC aims to build community and drive positive change to help legal industry players optimize legal-service delivery models. All law students, lawyers, and legal-services professionals can learn a lot from the CLOC toolkit and the skill-building resources it identifies. Download the CLOC toolkit, assess your current skills, and start using the resources to improve your legal-service delivery skills today!