Legal Operations for legal teams in Belgium: an introduction

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More and more heads of legal departments are aware that keeping the status quo in their department is not futureproof and they are looking at legal operations as one of the possible solutions. Legal operations (or legal ops) can indeed be an enabler: it describes a set of business processes, activities, and the professionals that enable legal departments to serve their company more effectively by applying business and technical practices to the delivery of legal services.

However, some myths and misconceptions surround the concept, which prevent legal teams from reaching their full potential. In this article, we will explore some of the most common myths and pitfalls of legal operations. YouConnect thanks legal ops experts Rozemie Defrancq and Jan Bosmans for their valuable input.

Myth 1: "Legal Operations is only for large legal departments"

Legal Operations can benefit legal departments of any size. Even if you do not have much resources at hand, there are still many things you can do. For smaller departments, working efficiently, deflecting common requests, and leveraging automation to do low-level routine work are key. For larger departments, Legal Operations can help to push back tasks that do not belong in the legal department and improve information flow to prevent silos.

Myth 2: "Legal Operations is only a nice-to-have"

Many legal teams believe that Legal Operations is an unnecessary luxury that they cannot afford. However, this is a misconception. Investing in Legal Operations can save legal teams time and money in the long run. Without prioritizing legal operations, legal teams may never get the opportunity to improve their processes. It’s also a misunderstanding that you need a large budget for Legal Operations. What you do need, is time to reflect on your processes and possible improvements. Sometimes you need to slow down in order to accelerate.

Myth 3: "Legal Tech is all you need"

Legal Tech is an essential component of Legal Operations, but it should not be the only focus, and not necessarily the first one. Legal Operations encompasses much more than just technology. It involves people, processes, tools, and data. Legal Tech won't help you if you don't do your homework, which involves designing your documents and processes in a smart, user-friendly way. Therefore, it is essential to start with the basics before investing in Legal Tech. If you automate a bad workflow, it does not suddenly become a good workflow. Also important will be to have the buy-in of your management and the support of other departments. Storytelling is crucial in that respect.

Myth 4: "Legal Operations’ Team Members have to be lawyers"

Legal Operations require a diverse set of skills that go beyond legal expertise. While having a lawyer on the team can be beneficial, it is not a prerequisite. Legal Operations professionals should have a good understanding of how legal departments work, but they also need tech and engineering skills, project management, data analysis, and communication skills.

Knowledge sharing

​​​Beyond these myths, we had in-depth discussions and lively exchanges about several additional topics, including AI, entity management, building a business case, the pros and cons to building DIY solutions, the role of people in digital transformation journeys, showcasing the value of the legal team, and questioning whether the work the legal team is doing, is what it should be doing. ​​

Did we make you excited to start/continue with legal operations? Legal ops experts stress the importance of promoting a culture of information sharing and collaboration to make your legal department thrive. As Rozemie Defrancq says: “it is all about focus, flow and connection”.

Authored by Stéphanie Verhaegen - 26 Apr 2023

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