Top 5 skills to get hired in legal operations

The number of legal matters being handled by attorneys has skyrocketed in recent years. The development of cutting-edge and cutting-edge legal technology, coupled with the steady progression towards running a transparent and data-driven legal department, has resulted in the creation of a new role that requires a unique mix of talent. This role is one that is attracting a wide variety of professionals, both with and without a JD degree.

Here are five skills that will help you land the legal operations job of your dreams, whether you are a recent graduate looking to launch your legal career or are interested in pivoting to a more operationally-focused role. These skills are applicable regardless of whether you are interested in pivoting to a more operationally-focused role.

Business Mindset

Professionals working in legal operations who are successful have a discernible influence on significant factors that contribute to the success of a firm, including performance, productivity, efficiency, and profitability. The job requires professionals who are not just able to think strategically and integrate legal work with business goals, but also have the ability to concurrently execute complicated legal programmes. These workers are referred to as hybrid workers.

This “business first, law second” mindset is not a new notion for the legal department. Rather, it is likely a trickle-down effect from forward-thinking general counsel who realise the importance of managing legal like any other business unit inside the corporation.

Dan Wright, the COO of AppDynamics as well as the company’s former General Counsel, stated that “All of our meetings are centred on what data is telling us,” regardless of whether we are comparing contract turnaround to competitors or educating salespeople on tools and better ways to carry out certain tasks. This demonstrates that you are keeping track of the money you are spending, that you understand how things grow over time, and that you are exceeding the industry benchmarks, which gets us to our next talent.

Financial Acuity

Legal operations specialists may not necessarily need to have a background in accounting, but it is essential for them to be familiar working with data and numbers. All of these activities, including the preparation and setting of budgets, the forecasting of spend, the management of accruals or unbilled estimates from law firms, the negotiation and monitoring of AFAs (alternative fee arrangements), and the reporting on all of these activities, contribute to legal ops’ ability to control spending and drive efficiencies.

The best outcomes for the company may be achieved when its legal and financial operations are aligned, but for this to take place, there must be a certain degree of open communication between its various divisions. Find out how the legal ops and finance departments at AdRoll overcome this difficulty, and gain a better understanding of how the ops function can speed up the process of building a stronger connection with key stakeholders in finance.


Mary O’Carroll, who is the Director of Legal Operations at Google, was recently interviewed by Google Careers, where she discussed the expansive nature of the legal operations work. “It is our role to be the change agent as well as the executor. We are able to gain exposure to each and every facet and function of the department, in addition to interacting with a very wide variety of teams and stakeholders.

To assist in turning their vision and ideas into reality, leaders of legal operations need to demonstrate a command of influence, which, in turn, necessitates an in-depth familiarity with both the culture of the organisation and the workings of the legal department.

The best legal operations experts must be able to collaborate not just with their own internal team but also with a wide variety of individuals serving in a variety of roles both within and outside the business. They act as a link between the legal, information technology, financial, and business departments.

This takes a profound understanding of each department in order to guarantee that all of the groups work together in a seamless manner to defend the company and guarantee that everyone is moving in the direction of a common objective. Those who are engaged in legal operations absolutely must cultivate a mentality that emphasises teamwork and considers all relevant parties to be stakeholders.

An interest in technology

There is a diverse selection of technology that can be utilised by legal teams. It is the responsibility of legal operations professionals to remain current on the various technologies that can be utilised in order to evaluate, test, and put into use those technologies that simplify workflows and get rid of administrative tasks so that attorneys can concentrate on high-priority legal work.

According to the results of the 2019 State of the Industry Survey conducted by the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), e-Billing, matter management software, and contract management tools are the types of software and tools that are utilised the most frequently by legal operations professionals. This is followed by e-Signature, board management solutions, document management solutions, and intellectual property solutions.

Those who are thinking about working in legal operations need to have an inquisitive nature regarding technology and always be on the lookout for new ways of solving problems and new product features that can be incorporated into existing ways of solving problems that can benefit the entire department. Once a foundation for legal technology has been established, the key to achieving significant time and cost benefits across the business is to have a knowledge of how the technologies used in the legal department may be integrated with the tools used in other departments.

Willingness to Ask for Help

Even if experience is very helpful, no one individual can possibly know everything, and this is especially true in legal operations, where roles and duties are often shifting to accommodate new circumstances. Those who are prepared to seek assistance from others and learn from their experiences will fare well in the very cross-functional job of legal operations.

Within their first month on the job, new legal operations professionals are always given the advice to engage in conversation with as many people as possible. Overcommunicating, identifying the strengths and limitations of your team, and gaining a grasp of how the legal department interacts with internal clients are essential to achieving success in legal operations. Those that are able to do so while maintaining their modesty will thrive in the post of legal operations manager and are certain to make an instant effect.

Are You Prepared to Make a Splash in Legal Operations, Wherever You May Be?

Although the majority of legal operations professionals are attorneys with prior experience working in-house, this is not a must. We’ve seen a lot of successful legal operations experts with master’s degrees in business administration, solid financial backgrounds, and even certifications as certified public accountants.

At the end of the day, similar to many other positions, a great legal ops leader will be an intelligent person who is self-motivated and who is comfortable working with figures and technology.

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