June 19, 2023

OKRs for Legal Teams: Unlocking Success

Setting goals is key to the success of legal teams. But how can you set the right goals in a way that drives performance and productivity? Let’s explore.

Dear Legal Ops!
Welcome to this week’s Let’s talk about Legal Ops, offered by Newton. We tackle corporate legal departments, speed up processes, and career growth. Please send us your questions; in return, we come back with real insights and actionable tips.
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As legal professionals, you’ll already understand the importance of setting goals. And when you work in an in-house environment, driving and sharing results becomes even more important. Identifying, working towards, and tracking goals is a fundamental practice that helps us focus, align our efforts, and ultimately achieve success.

One powerful goal-setting framework helping legal teams accomplish ambitious goals is Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs, as it’s more commonly known. With a focused but agile methodology, OKRs have the potential to transform the way in-house legal teams operate and the scale of what they can achieve.

In fact, 83% of companies agree that OKRs have a positive impact on their organization.

So, what exactly are OKRs? Whether you are new to OKRs or looking to refine your existing goal-setting practices, this article will serve as a comprehensive guide for unlocking success with OKRs in your legal team. Let’s explore everything you need to know about this goal-setting tool as well as how you can start benefiting from it today.

In this article, we will cover the following:

What are OKRs?

OKRs stands for Objectives and Key Results. It is a goal-setting methodology that helps teams and individuals define and achieve their objectives in a way that is fit for purpose in today’s fast business environment.

The framework is designed to empower teams to set ambitious goals while also defining the more tangible steps required to achieve them. They are a strategic framework from which legal teams can improve focus, prioritize resources and work in a more agile manner.

How do OKRs work?

The structure of OKRs is relatively simple yet highly effective.

Objectives capture ambitious and aspirational goals, while Key Results are measurable milestones that demonstrate progress toward those objectives.

Ideally, your legal team should have at most two or three OKRs per quarter, each with no more than four corresponding key results. Why? Well, realistically, it’s only possible for teams to truly move the needle and have an impact on projects when there are limited competing priorities.

You should also decide your OKRs during your planning sessions for the upcoming quarter – that is to say before the quarter begins – and track them regularly to establish progress.


Objectives are the heart and soul of OKRs. They are meant to be inspiring and challenging, pushing your legal team beyond their comfort zone and toward new heights. When setting objectives, it’s important to strike a balance between ambition and achievability. Aim for objectives that excite and motivate your team, while remaining within the realm of possibility.

Key results

Key results serve as measurable checkpoints that indicate progress towards achieving your objectives. They provide clarity and, importantly, accountability which ensures that everyone understands what needs to be accomplished and how success will be measured. For best success, key results should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

The key ingredients

So what does an OKR look like? Well, generally, an OKR will feature one Objective and a few corresponding Key Results. The Objective outlines the high-level goal and the Key Results explain the more granular milestones needed to indicate progression (or lack thereof) towards the Objective. Combined, it makes a cohesive mechanism to translate ambitious goals into actionable steps.

When crafting your OKRs, there are four key principles to keep in mind.

  1. Choose your timeframe
  2. Set an ambitious objective
  3. Make your key results measurable
  4. Track the progress

McKinsey & Company revealed that 93% of business units that had fully adopted an agile model before the COVID-19 crisis outperformed units that hadn’t.

As in-house legal teams strive to become valued business partners and drive organizational success, adopting a more strategic direction has become increasingly important. By implementing OKRs, legal teams can unlock countless benefits that elevate their performance and better help showcase the impact of legal on wider business objectives. Let’s explore a few.

Focused and aligned efforts

OKRs provide a clear focus by setting ambitious objectives that align with the overall business goals. For legal teams, this means defining specific objectives that directly contribute to the company’s success. By aligning your work with the broader organizational goals, you’ll be better placed to ensure that your efforts are well-directed, avoiding lower-impact work and focusing on what truly matters.

Where historically in-house legal professionals have struggled to articulate, track and report on the value of the legal department, key results enable them to establish measurable milestones that track progress and success. By defining specific, measurable, and time-bound key results, legal teams can objectively assess their performance and ensure that they are making tangible progress. This transparency fosters a results-oriented culture, fuels motivation and helps the team showcase the impact of legal activities on the business; which can even result in the business investing more into the legal department.

Enhanced collaboration and communication

OKRs promote collaboration within the legal team by creating a shared sense of purpose and direction. By aligning objectives and key results, team members gain a better understanding of how their individual contributions fit into the bigger picture.

Moreover, the strategic alignment with the wider company goals encourages cross-functional collaboration, breaking down silos and fostering a more collaborative work environment. When clear and well-communicated, OKRs also facilitate better communication with stakeholders, ensuring that legal teams are aligned with the needs of the business and effectively addressing legal challenges.

Agility and adaptability

Legal teams often face shifting priorities and evolving landscapes. OKRs provide a flexible framework that allows for agile adaptation. As objectives and key results are regularly reviewed and adjusted, legal teams can realign their focus and (increasingly limited) resources to address emerging challenges and seize new opportunities. This adaptability ensures that legal teams stay responsive and resilient in the face of change, positioning them well to deliver value in dynamic business environments.

Motivation and engagement

OKRs inspire and motivate legal teams by setting aspirational goals that push boundaries and drive growth. By defining ambitious but achievable objectives, legal teams are energized to go above and beyond their regular responsibilities, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and innovation. Clear visibility of progress and achievements through measurable key results also boosts morale and provides a sense of accomplishment, further fueling motivation and engagement within the legal team (and hopefully contributing to talent retention!).

We’ve explored what OKRs are, how they work and why your legal team should consider them as your goal-setting technique. Now let’s walk through how you can start to implement them.

1. Create team buy-in

To successfully implement OKRs in your legal team, it is crucial to secure buy-in from all team members. Communicate the benefits of OKRs and how they will contribute to the team’s success. Emphasize the alignment between OKRs and the broader organizational goals to highlight their value and relevance. Encourage open discussions and address any concerns or questions to foster a supportive and collaborative environment.

2. Lay the administrative foundations

Decide on the timeline for your OKRs, whether you’ll follow a bi-monthly or quarterly cadence. Determine where your OKRs will live, whether it’s a dedicated OKR platform, project management tool, or a shared document accessible to all team members. Ensure that everyone has easy access to the OKRs and understands how to navigate them effectively.

3. Business awareness

Develop a deep understanding of the business priorities and strategies. Stay connected with key stakeholders and decision-makers to tap into the organization’s evolving needs to align your legal team’s OKRs accordingly. Regularly communicate with business leaders to ensure your objectives remain relevant and contribute to the overall success of the organization.

4. Setting effective objectives

When setting objectives, focus on creating clear, inspiring, and measurable goals that align with the organization’s strategic direction. Involve the entire team in the objective-setting process to foster a sense of ownership and commitment. Assign an owner for each objective who will take responsibility for driving progress and ensuring accountability within the team.

5. Craft measurable key results

Identify key results that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Ensure that each key result directly supports the corresponding objective and provides a clear measure of success. For example, key results could be aimed at reducing contract turnaround time, improving regulatory compliance scores, or enhancing the efficiency of legal research processes. Use previous data and benchmarks to set realistic yet challenging key results that drive the team towards excellence.

6. Continually track progress

Regularly track your progress against the key results to ensure accountability and adaptability. Schedule check-ins and progress reviews to keep the team on track and identify areas for improvement. Encourage continuous feedback and open communication to address challenges, make necessary adjustments, and celebrate milestones achieved along the way. This iterative approach ensures that OKRs remain relevant and responsive to evolving circumstances.

7. Simply get started

Don’t delay getting started – trying it out is the best way to learn. Don’t be afraid to experiment and refine your approach as you gain experience with OKRs. Seek feedback from the team and leadership to continuously improve the process. Remain open to new ideas and best practices, and be willing to adapt your OKR strategy if it will lead to better outcomes. By embracing a growth mindset and continuous learning, your legal team can unlock the full potential of OKRs and drive success.

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OKR challenges and how to overcome them

Implementing OKRs in your legal team can bring about numerous benefits, but as with any change, some challenges can present themselves along the way. By understanding these challenges and proactively addressing them, you can set your team up for success. Here are some common challenges when adopting OKRs in your in-house legal team.

Lack of alignment

One of the primary challenges in implementing OKRs is ensuring alignment between legal team objectives and broader organizational goals. To overcome this challenge, establish clear channels of communication with key stakeholders and decision-makers. Regularly engage with business leaders to understand their priorities and incorporate them into your legal team’s OKRs.

Finding the balance between ambitious but achievable objectives

It’s important to set goals that stretch your team’s capabilities while still being attainable. Involve the team in the objective-setting process to gather their insights and leverage their expertise. Encourage them to think big and inspire innovation, but also provide guidance and support to ensure that the objectives remain realistic and actionable.

Taking appropriate action thanks to key results

We’ve discussed the importance of selected measurable key results. Getting these right so they accurately reflect progress and success can be a challenge. To overcome this, focus on using quantitative and qualitative metrics that are relevant to your legal team’s goals. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again; ensure that the key results are specific, measurable, and time-bound. Regularly track and update the key results to stay on top of progress and make necessary adjustments as needed. Taking action based on results is key to success.

Lack of accountability

To ensure your team feels accountable for the success of your OKRs, establish a culture of transparency and ownership within the legal team. Clearly define roles and responsibilities for each objective and key result. Encourage regular check-ins, progress updates, and discussions around challenges and successes. Celebrate milestones and achievements to keep the team motivated and engaged.

Resistance to change

It’s common to face resistance from team members who are unfamiliar with the concept of OKRs or are resistant to change more generally. Overcome this challenge by providing comprehensive training and education on OKRs, highlighting the benefits and rationale behind their adoption. Address any concerns or misconceptions through open and honest communication.


Implementing OKRs can be a game-changer for in-house legal teams. By setting clear, inspiring Objectives and measurable Key Results, legal professionals can better achieve more impactful outcomes faster while also raising the profile of legal within the business.

So, if you ready to embark on your OKR journey and unleash the full potential of your legal team, remember that embedding OKRs requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to learn and adapt. Stay committed to the process, embrace continuous improvement, and leverage the collective strengths of your team to unlock success with OKRs.

Newton delivers an easy and intuitive platform to manage and automate your legal entities’ information, governance, and compliance. If your entity management processes are currently creating friction for your team (which they are for many), be sure to get in touch to explore how Newton can help you have everything you need to be in control of your entity portfolio.

About this article


Mooncamp (2022). OKR Impact Report 2022. 
McKinsey & Company (2020). Global SAFe Summit 2020 welcome keynote.


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June 7, 2023

Knowledge Management for In-House Legal Teams

Knowledge management is crucial for the success of a legal team. Here’s what you need to know.

Dear Legal Ops!
Welcome to this week’s Let’s talk about Legal Ops, offered by Newton. We tackle corporate legal departments, speed up processes, and career growth. Please send us your questions; in return, we come back with real insights and actionable tips.
If you find this post valuable, don't miss the chance to check out our latest posts.

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In the fast-paced world of legal operations, effective knowledge management is crucial for legal teams who want to streamline their processes, improve productivity, and enhance decision-making.

As legal professionals, it’s easy to understand the critical role that knowledge plays in the success of your team and organization; and in today's rapidly changing landscape, having easy access to relevant information, expertise, and best practices is more important than ever. This is a strong contributor as to why

we’re likely to see legal departments replacing 20% of generalist lawyers with non-lawyer staff by 2024.

But what exactly is “knowledge management”? And how can it influence the performance of your legal department? In this article, we’ll explore various aspects of knowledge management, including the key principles and best practices.

Whether you are just starting your knowledge management journey or looking to optimize your existing practices, we hope this article will equip you with the insights and guidance needed to unlock the full potential of your team's knowledge.

In this article, we will cover the following:

What is knowledge management?

Knowledge management is about creating a system and culture that allows you to harness the power of knowledge to drive success.

According to CLOC, knowledge management is about tapping into the knowledge and capability of your entire organization. It refers to the systematic collection, organization, storage, and dissemination of both legal and non-legal knowledge within a legal team and the wider business.

Knowledge management is all about capturing and leveraging the legal team's collective expertise, experiences, and knowledge to facilitate efficient and informed decision-making. Where legal departments were once flooded with knowledge and processes, knowledge management aims to help you find and preserve that knowledge and information. CLOC explains that most legal teams rely on “tribal knowledge” to achieve this, but this isn’t feasible as the team scales.

Instead, with the goal of improving the efficiency and performance of legal operations, bringing effective knowledge management makes it easier to find answers and best practices. It often involves creating and maintaining a centralized repository of legal documents, including contracts, agreements, policies, and legal research materials. This valuable repository enables quick access to relevant information, promotes consistency, and reduces the risk of errors or redundancies.

A critical aspect of knowledge management is the ability to capture insights and information, which is the expertise and insights gained through years of experience, both internal and external, to the legal team. This includes documenting best practices, case studies, and lessons learned to foster knowledge sharing and collaboration among team members, ultimately leading to continual productivity and performance improvement. By preserving and sharing this valuable tacit knowledge, legal teams can continuously avoid reinventing the wheel and enhance their overall efficiency and effectiveness.

In addition to storage and sharing, knowledge management encompasses technology solutions, such as legal research databases, document management systems, and collaboration platforms. These tools facilitate the organization, searchability, and retrieval of information, ensuring that the legal team can quickly locate relevant resources and stay up-to-date with changes in laws, regulations, and industry standards.

Why is knowledge management important?

Knowledge management plays a crucial role in the success of legal teams for several reasons.

Enhanced efficiency

Effective knowledge management allows legal teams to efficiently access and leverage relevant information, documents, and expertise. This streamlines workflows, reduces time spent searching for information, and enables quicker decision-making, ultimately increasing overall efficiency.

Consistency and standardization

Knowledge management ensures consistency and standardization in legal processes, templates, and best practices. By centralizing and organizing knowledge, legal teams can maintain a unified approach, minimizing errors and promoting quality assurance across the organization. Not to mention, it makes it a lot easier to onboard new employees and have them up to speed quickly.

Risk mitigation

Access to comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date knowledge is vital in risk management. Knowledge management enables legal departments to stay informed about laws, regulations, and industry standards changes. This ensures compliance and reduces the risk of legal errors, regulatory violations, and potential lawsuits.

Collaboration and knowledge sharing

Legal teams often work in collaboration with other teams (internally or externally) on complex matters or across different locations. Knowledge management platforms and practices facilitate seamless collaboration and knowledge sharing, enabling team members to leverage each other's expertise, insights, and experiences. This promotes a culture of learning, innovation, and continuous improvement within the team.

Succession planning

Knowledge management helps mitigate the risks associated with personnel changes, such as retirements or team members leaving the organization. By capturing and organizing knowledge, legal teams can ensure that critical information and expertise are retained, allowing for a smooth transition and effective continuity of operations.

Client service and value creation

Effective knowledge management enables legal teams to provide better client service. Quick access to relevant information, templates, precedents, etc., allows for more informed and strategic advice, enhancing client value. It also enables legal teams to proactively identify opportunities and deliver innovative solutions based on collective knowledge and insights.

Knowledge management is essential for legal teams to operate efficiently, mitigate risks, deliver high-quality services, foster collaboration, and drive value creation. By leveraging the power of knowledge, legal teams can stay competitive, adapt to changing environments, and meet the evolving needs of their organizations and clients.

Getting started with knowledge management

No matter the size of your legal function, there are steps you can take to improve your knowledge management. We highly recommend you check out ACC’s maturity model, which explores what knowledge management looks like at early, intermediate or advanced stages. You can find that here.

In the meantime, good knowledge management practices for in-house legal teams are built on the following key principles.

1. Capture and centralize knowledge

Establish a system to capture and centralize legal knowledge, including documents, templates, research materials, and best practices. This can be achieved through a centralized knowledge repository or a digital platform that allows easy storage, organization, and information retrieval.

2. Categorize and organize

Implement a logical and consistent categorization system to organize knowledge assets. Use clear and intuitive labels, tags, or metadata to enable efficient searching and retrieval of information. Ensure that the categorization aligns with the needs and context of the legal team. Depending on the size of your business, non-legal workers may also be required to access your knowledge base. Keep this in mind when designing your knowledge management.

3. Standardize templates and processes

Establish standardized templates, processes, and workflows to ensure consistency and efficiency across the legal team. Document best practices and guidelines, making them easily accessible to team members. Regularly update and refine these resources based on feedback and evolving needs.

4. Encourage knowledge sharing

Foster a culture of knowledge sharing within the legal team. Encourage team members to actively contribute their insights, experiences, and expertise to the knowledge repository. Provide platforms or tools that facilitate collaboration and knowledge exchange, such as discussion forums (e.g. on your internal messenger such as Slack or Teams), shared document spaces, or internal wikis.

5. Promote continuous learning

Encourage continuous learning and professional development within the legal team. Provide opportunities for training, workshops, and knowledge-sharing sessions. Foster a supportive environment where team members are motivated to expand their knowledge and stay up-to-date with legal developments.

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6. Leverage technology

Gartner predicts legal technology spending will increase to approximately 12% of in-house budgets by 2025, a threefold increase from 2020 levels. Moreover, 60% say software for knowledge management is valuable, currently underutilized, or in the pipeline for the next 24 months, suggesting that leveraging technology for this purpose is soon to become commonplace.

Utilize technology tools and platforms to support knowledge management initiatives. Implement document management systems, collaboration tools, legal research databases, or intranets that facilitate knowledge sharing, document storage, and easy access to relevant information.

7. Ensure security and confidentiality

Establish robust security measures to protect sensitive legal information and client data. Implement access controls and user permissions to ensure that only authorized personnel can access certain information. Comply with relevant data protection and privacy regulations.

8. Monitor and evaluate

Regularly assess the effectiveness of knowledge management practices and systems. Solicit feedback from team members and stakeholders to identify areas for improvement. Analyze usage patterns, search queries, and user engagement with the knowledge repository to refine and optimize the system.


By implementing effective knowledge management practices, in-house legal teams can streamline their workflows, improve decision-making, and enhance their overall productivity. It promotes consistency in legal advice, reduces duplication of efforts, and empowers team members to leverage the collective knowledge and expertise of the organization. In today's rapidly evolving legal landscape, embracing knowledge management is essential for in-house legal teams to thrive and deliver optimal value to their organizations.

Newton delivers an easy and intuitive platform to manage and automate your legal entities' information, governance, and compliance. If your entity management processes are currently creating friction for your team (which they are for many), be sure to get in touch to explore how Newton can help you have everything you need to be in control of your entity portfolio.

About this article


CLOC (2020). What is Legal Operations?
Gartner (2021). Gartner Predicts Legal Technology Budgets Will Increase Threefold by 2025
ACC (2020). ACC Legal Operations Maturity Model 2.0
Thomson Reuters Institute (2022). 2022 Legal Department Operations Index


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May 11, 2023

Revolutionizing cross-functional teams

Revolutionize cross-functional work for better collaboration in legal ops and between teams. Here are the advice and tools we love to use at Newton!

Dear Legal Ops!
Welcome to this week’s Let’s talk about Legal Ops, offered by Newton. We tackle corporate legal departments, speed up processes, and career growth. Please send us your questions; in return, we come back with real insights and actionable tips.
If you find this post valuable, don't miss the chance to check out our latest posts.

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As a business professional, you’re acutely conscious of the importance of ensuring the proper optimization of both your own workload and that of your team, and all other allocated cross-functional teams, roles, and responsibilities. Business moves fast, and we all know the importance of mastering time to provide clients with the best advice within the shortest possible timeframe. Yet to achieve this, you need to make sure your systems are in the best possible shape. You’ll require a cross-functional team that has the full ability to improve cross-functional work with sophisticated technology and automate administrative tasks. If this can be accomplished, you will see how quickly you can reap the benefits of concentrating on strategy and providing your clients with the best possible service. Don’t allow file management, data transfers, and constant emailing requirements to bog your operations down – take charge and optimize them for maximum efficiency. Here, we investigate your available options.

In this article, we will cover the following:

Maximizing Efficiency and Profitability in Non-Client-Facing Operations with Newton

Beyond client-facing work, Newton provides you with the potential to massively enhance the efficiency and profitability of all your operations. If you’re in compliance, finance, corporate, or an investor in real estate, your role in increasing productivity, reducing risks, and monitoring compliance will be critical. That’s not to mention all the tasks you have to get done in terms of managing budgets and the smooth implementation of new technology across your firm and behind the scenes. That’s a lot, and when there are so many tasks to complete, the potential for silo working becomes a real possibility.

It’s an unfortunate fact that a silo mentality often takes over in organizations of all types and sizes. People become bogged down and overwhelmed by the amount of work they need to complete, communication becomes obstructed, colleagues get frustrated, projects are set back, profits are reduced, and clients leave. In fact, as we’ve already discussed at length in our previous article on How to Avoid Silos Work in Legal Ops, silos working in an organization can result in disastrous effects on the company’s internal efficiency.

That’s not to mention the huge damage that working in silos causes to a company’s external image. Once your clients’ experience of working with you is marred by communication breakdowns, conflicting information, and poor service, it can be difficult to repair, not to mention a lengthy process. Your best bet for combatting the detrimental effects of silos working is to promote collaboration among your teams and the free and open sharing of information.

It’s a fact, then, that if you want to ensure operational excellence, you will need to place a keen focus on improved cooperation and communication between teams, departments, and colleagues. That means that where a multiplicity of tasks is concerned, the consolidation and integration of tasks must be the priority – and the best way to get this done is through the use of state-of-the-art legal analytic tools and management facilities from third-party providers, as well as working on seamless communication between your various non-legal departments such as sales and marketing, IT, HR, and finance.

Silos working must be avoided, but it’s certainly difficult when there is compliance monitoring, departmental budget management, outsourcing, and technology implementation to get done. As all these areas are necessary for a firm to flourish, cooperation and commitment are required from all departments, from legal to marketing to finance, HR, and sales.

In view of the many teams, departments, and individuals involved, a firm that wants to succeed must adopt a well-defined cross-functional team, roles and responsibilities and a cross-functional strategy-focused approach. It’s really only by doing this that silos of work can be avoided, and a smooth operational framework achieved.

Whilst it is vital to form strong partnerships between all departments, it is often legal operations that will be at the very centre. It may not be fully justified, but it’s the lawyers who are often considered a firm’s cost centre, operating in isolation. Painstaking legal work does take time, but unnecessary delays can cause frustration among colleagues.

Yet given the nature of legal work and the complex issues that lawyers deal with, especially in transnational projects, long timeframes can be unavoidable. In departments of all kinds, in compliance, in finance, at the management level and in corporate law, it is ultimately legal operations that play the key role in compliance and risk management, and which act as the ultimate binding force, connecting the legal function with every department across a firm. That means centralizing legal operations and establishing an uninterrupted and flawless communication channel with every team across the board.

However, we have seen so many times now how a communications system overhaul has resulted in the promotion of easy information exchange between teams, with improved document workflow and storage systems. A new approach can improve the efficiency of not only your legal team but of the entire operating model of your company as a whole. In almost all instances, this improves accessibility, competence, and productivity in all areas, fostering better workplace relationships and streamlining all cross-functional processes for both your internal and external success.

Boosting Business Efficiency: The Power of Technology-Driven Solutions

At Newton, we understand all too well how over the past couple of years, Covid-19 and ongoing economic factors have meant that many of you have been forced to recalibrate your organizational and technological tools to facilitate remote working and team collaboration, both legal and otherwise. You may want to achieve that strong strategic operational framework and operating model and seamless cross-functional alignment but aren’t quite sure of the tools you need to use to achieve it.

Yet doing so is necessary; a study by Mckinsey & Company has found that companies that use social technologies can improve the productivity of their employees by at least twenty-five percent.

Your answer to an enhanced business strategy, with improved team collaboration, requires, of course, the incorporation of technology. Excellent new technology is always becoming ever more available and accessible. Even the implementation of a small tech stack, with an investment in tools that will manage your client relationships, reduce spending with external counsel, and will handle and even analyze contracts, will benefit your legal and other departments.

Bo Hagler, Forbes Councils Member, has discussed how companies have benefitted from tools that specialize in the aggregation of data from different systems, that act to provide stakeholders with a “single source of truth” that more accurately reflects the success of their business.

Revolutionizing Collaboration: How Technology is Transforming the Way We Work Together

The advantage of technology is the potential it offers for the huge reduction of tedious and time-consuming micromanagement, and the repetition of basic legal and business tasks. It acts to improve all the cross-functional legal and business initiatives to which you apply it. Technological tools also provide the opportunity for legal professionals to share their innovative knowledge with one another, between legal teams and with other departments, thus reducing all operational risks.

To develop a successful operating model, both your legal operations team and other in-house departments must be encouraged to work together efficiently and share information, with a clear appreciation of your business goals and initiatives. Instead of continuing to operate completely independently, legal teams, in particular, should ensure that they communicate and collaborate with other departments, so as to devise a cross-functional and strategy-based business operating model that supports everyone’s objectives. The use of legal and other technology in this process has become imperative; digital contracting, for example, can simplify all firm and company processes and enhance the existing relationship between legal teams and other departments.

The Rise of Automation: Say Goodbye to Spreadsheets

In both law and business, technology can achieve fantastic results very quickly. It improves collaboration, measures efficiency, reduces repetitive administrative work, and adds an extra layer of intelligence to improve cross-functional work with technology and overall processes. The old days of relying on outdated, colour-coded spreadsheets for cross-functional knowledge and accuracy are gone. Other options are available. However, even the most high-profile companies are having difficulty in encouraging their workers to move away from Excel.

Indeed, a survey by the management company Deloitte discovered that 73% of companies are still using Microsoft Excel to prepare their tax returns.

Yet these old-style spreadsheets have long resulted in lawyers and other workers being forced to complete unnecessary forms that slow down processes, and which are often, in any case, inaccurate. Spreadsheets cannot, of course, update in real-time to implement necessary data transfers or accurately reflect changing business activity. Nor do they accurately reflect the true operating margins, profitability, or project processes of a business.

To thrive in this new era, businesses need to implement a modern entity management system that will both streamline their compliance requirements and promote business growth. In this respect, Newton is unique. We provide a comprehensive range of management solutions and corporate services that act to simplify and automate your governance workflows. This takes the worry off your professional team with regard to document compliance, and risk management, not to mention coordination.

Technology acts to improve your efficient delivery of legal services and the provision of innovative solutions to clients, yet it requires inter-team and departmental collaboration, as well as financial matter- and vendor management – all of which is best facilitated by technology. In short, the strategic use of technological solutions has the potential to transform legal departments from a business cost to a central value creator.

This transformation of your department’s standard operations to becoming a value creator requires the automation of key legal tasks such as contract management, research, compliance, and even analysis to allow a team’s lawyers to focus deeply on more strategic work. You have all the knowledge and skills to lead your organization, but the work required is often so time-consuming that you can’t manage to get it all done. This automation of these tasks will free up you and your team to play a much more significant role in your company, whatever its expertise.

Specialist software completes tasks in the same manner as we humans do but with significantly greater accuracy and, importantly, much more quickly. The assistance of automated technological solutions results in the reduction of risk and improve overall compliance.

A recent study in 2023 has found that currently, nearly 45% of businesses are using automation to cut costs.

That number is only set to grow, and if your competition is doing business this way, shouldn’t you be, too? It’s clear, then, that technology is increasingly shaping the future of business.

The Rise of AI: Revolutionizing Efficiency and Accuracy

It isn’t only standard technology that can help you to improve your business and legal operations. Artificial Intelligence, or AI-powered software, is increasingly popular for use in numerous tasks. As a result:

A survey by ResumeBuilder.com of 1,187 business leaders found that 91% of hiring managers are seeking workers with ChatGPT experience. 29% are hiring prompt engineers.

These tools have the ability to accelerate operations and automation of data that in the past would have required long and tedious hours spent inputting it, and, essentially, to eliminate all the monotonous and time-consuming tasks that professionals in law and business have typically been required to perform. As a result, it’s clear that the integration of new technology into legal operations and management processes enhances efficiency in every way.

On that we found quite relevant the LinkedIn post from Superhuman, an AI newsletter with 200,000+ readers that teaches you how to leverage AI to boost your productivity, in this particular LinkedIn post about Chrome extensions.

When it comes to digital transformation, departmental collaboration is necessary for success. Fifty years ago, lawyers, whether working in a firm or as company advisors, would have been employed solely to guide a company on the legal aspects of its business operations. Yet the modern business environment is very different. Each department plays a vital role in your company’s success, and they need to work together. Nowadays:

  • Digital transformation requires team and departmental collaboration for company success
  • Proper alignment with legal operations is a key indicator of company health
  • Legal operations should stress their importance within a firm to avoid being viewed as obstructive cost centres
  • Cross-functional alignment is a sign of legal operations competency

It’s rather difficult to assess the level of alignment of a company until you actually become a part of it. As Russell points out, whilst the negative effects of a badly aligned contracts team may be quickly identifiable, issues related to product liability, for example, might not become evident until they actually arise. That’s why a lawyer working in-house needs to be able to properly understand a company’s true alignment level. Doing so, s/he can identify the key areas in which legal operations can improve the business.

In this new, technologically focused world, the modern digital manner in which legal services are now delivered means that strong collaboration with IT can ensure that project priorities are aligned with business needs. We would advise cultivating a great relationship with the IT team, so that, on their part, they fully appreciate the significance of legal requirements and prioritize them accordingly.

Yet it isn’t all take; Legal and IT can have a mutually beneficial relationship, with a focus on key operations that enable business momentum, and for a direct impact on your clients and security compliance standards.

It can also be useful for the IT department to have the support of a lawyer at meetings who can explain why IT and Legal have settled on particular solutions, especially in relation to issues such as benefits that relate to returns on investment and time-saving tools such as e-billing software and matter management.

Its also important to nurture a collaborative relationship with the finance team. Within an effective company framework, the overall emphasis should be on good communication, collaboration, and alignment.

This will help in the view of legal operations in your firm as a value-add, rather than a cost center. The finance team’s aid and input will also help legal departments to place their focus on prevention, rather than constantly having to react to avoidable problems. Yet despite all these benefits of effective firm-wide collaboration, a 2021 Forbes article, reported that many businesses fail to overcome the barriers involved in achieving seamless cross-functional team working. The intelligent implementation of technology works to reverse this trend.

Mind the Gap: Why Identifying Operational Deficiencies is Critical for Success

Uncovering Hidden Opportunities: Why Identifying Business Deficiencies is Key to Unlocking Growth Potential

The first step in the enhancement of cross-functional teams is the recognition and analysis of existing operational deficiencies. Following this, the next step is the development of new and improved procedures. One approach is the creation of new processes and the identification of any drawbacks or possible issues in the operational system.

This is precisely what Konrad Treter, Operations Manager at City Pantry in London, advises. His useful insights are applicable to all types of businesses. Treter advises that process mapping is a highly effective technique that can be used to achieve this objective. By interviewing your departmental team members, you can discover their procedures and identify the points that require improvement. This presents an excellent opportunity to pinpoint key gaps and areas for improvement. Interestingly, Treter has observed the main problem within a large operational structure tends to be the absence of well-organized processes. This lack results in major process management problems, such as a lack of governance, which occurs when a process is not properly planned and assigned to an appropriate manager.

Empowering your Workforce: How Implementing a Knowledge Management System Can Revolutionize Your Business

One problem occurs with the failure to obtain knowledge, which typically occurs when no proper knowledge management system is in place. Another issue concerns inadequate workforce engagement, which halts process development since workers are not motivated to make the necessary extra efforts to improve process efficiency. By breaking all this information down, practical solutions can be found that will facilitate better organization between all teams in a business for the collaboration and implementation of modifications into their daily operations. Treter advises starting the process mapping process with managers and stakeholders as if they can be convinced of the benefits of process improvement. They’re then more likely to improve their connections with the key stakeholders in each department. It’s also wise to get one or more departments on board first, to help them to understand the potential benefits and improvements that will ensue in their workflow and daily processes. In fact, failing to do this is a common mistake.

Completing the process mapping process provides the potential for the promotion of robust business connections within your company, and the establishment of positive relationships between different departments facilitates the integration of novel technologies. Not only are there so many innovative tools now available that can truly help a business to organize its processes and to grow, but they also massively increase the potential for innovation. Your top priority should be to establish a willingness for strong inter-departmental collaboration before attempting to introduce new digital tools and steer your company towards digital transformation, as it is simply not feasible to do so otherwise.

Simply, to achieve successful collaboration in your teams, you need to use appropriate communication channels and tools. As so many teams are habituated to working independently, this can certainly be a challenge, but by changing this mindset and encouraging team members to understand the benefits of opening up communication channels, progress will speed up. You’ll soon see improved results, whilst employees will soon drop their initial resistance once they see how much more efficiently they can perform their jobs. The effective use of project management and office communication tools will accelerate this collaboration, provided that team members know how to use them effectively.

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Unlocking Valuable Insights: Leveraging Technology for Effective Feedback Gathering

Many tools are free at the point of use, such as Slack for communication, and Zoom for meetings. Zapier is an especially novel tool, enabling you to automate your apps by connecting them through workflows – no coding knowledge is required. Loom is another fantastic tool that has an entire surplus of uses, from aligning your teams, to design, sales, product management and marketing.

Here at Newton, we must stress that we are not affiliated with any of the companies we mention. However, we use them daily in our own work, and as we can vouch for their effectiveness, we’d like to share!

These tools are especially valuable when team members are working remotely and located in different areas, often internationally and in different time zones. To keep your teams in sync with workflows and priorities, project management tools such as Trello, Asana, and Workfront can be utilized. Additionally, cloud storage tools simplify the collaboration process while maintaining quality and version control. In legal operations, the shrewd use of tech tools is becoming increasingly important. In this area, tools have the potential to enhance the capabilities of in-house legal teams and contribute to the overall growth of a company. The legal industry is currently at a critical juncture, and by adopting tools, you can ensure greater efficiency, transparency, and the superior handling of complex issues.

Specifically for legal operations, various tools cater to the diverse needs of lawyers and their teams. These include the use of eDiscovery software that is specifically designed for legal professionals for the management of electronic files and document workflow and storage. This software enables the review, tagging, processing, and creation of electronic files. The entire litigation lifecycle can be managed using a cloud-based eDiscovery platform, from document review to addressing client requests. Perhaps the best feature of this platform is its effortless integration with local storage and database. Then there are contract lifecycle management tools, which enable legal teams to prioritize more critical and strategic tasks. Your cross-functional team can streamline processes by creating standardized contract workflows. Features, such as automatic notifications for terminations and events within legal documents, field associations, and file version control, will assist you in effectively organizing your documents.

Streamlining Your Processes: How Technology Can Simplify Document Organization and Minimize Risk

Our own tool, Newton, provides legal teams with a clear map of task ownership and deadlines as well as a secure way to create, share, and store documents. We make it significantly easier for departments across your company to manage intricate legal entity structures. We provide a personalized web application which will handle all your compliance, large databases, and document requirements with ease. By utilizing Newton, you can implement best practices and minimize your risks. When you’re managing corporate entities, you need to centralize all important information, such as registration, governance, ownership, tax, and compliance data, in one place. By doing so, a single source of truth is created. With Newton, compliance tracking and filing can be easily automated, and deadlines easily met. Newton also provides you with document creation automation, workflow management, and integrated task management to help manage repetitive tasks. If you are responsible for managing many legal entities with multiple stakeholders, we are certain you will find Newton invaluable!

Unlocking Efficiency: The Use of Technology to Improve Your Operational Model and Streamline Client Experiences

When it comes to non-legal resources, numerous options exist. For feedback on your team’s work, tools such as Tally are available. Tally is an excellent tool for creating forms and is as easy to use as creating a Google Doc. If your website states your company policy or information, sophisticated tools will help you to assess how users access and utilize the information. That’s not to forget your website, the actual storefront of your business, so here it’s important that you can ensure a seamless user experience to achieve business conversions. This means that you need to provide your users with an intuitive and hassle-free experience that fosters trust. Microsoft provides Clarity for this purpose, a cutting-edge behavioural analytics tool that is completely free, and which monitors how users navigate your website and identify precisely what does and doesn’t work in less than five minutes flat.

Other excellent tools are available for measuring information, such as Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). To ensure everyone is on the same page, a great step forward could be the establishment of company-wide knowledge and structure for recording and monitoring OKRs. Major companies regularly use the OKR system for measuring and tracking their goals. Examples range from Amazon’s use of its long-established “Leadership Principles” methodology, which it uses to track its company goals, to the massive improvements that Airbnb has seen in its performance since it adopted its use.

While creating OKRs can be a challenging task, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Coda, for example, provides a wide collection of downloadable OKR templates, from which you can choose to smooth the process.

The Future of Teamwork: Leveraging Technology for Improved Collaboration

In a tightly pressured business world, the availability of responsive technological tools has created a double bind. Whilst work of all kinds can now be completed faster than ever before, at the same time, client expectations have increased. That means the onus is on you to increase your knowledge of useful technologies that can help you in your work and that of your team. This knowledge, and your investment in it, is decisive for your business success. The effective use of these fantastic new technologies will lead to greater transparency, fewer mistakes, and better delivery of your services. Don’t rely on outdated methods: embrace new technology in your business and invest in modern tools to improve your ability to communicate and collaborate at work today.

About this article


Anderson, J. Zapier. (2022). Zapier examples: Ways to use automation at work
Asana. (2023). Cross-functional work platform
Bensla, A. (2023). The Power of OKRs: 5 Examples of Successful Companies. Risely.
Chui, M.; Manyika, J.; Bughin, J.; Dobbs, R.; Roxburgh, C.; Sarrazin, H.; Sands, G.; Westergren, M. (2012) The Social Economy: Unlocking Values and Productivity Through Social Technologies. McKinsey & Company
Coda (2023) Collection of OKRs docs and Packs
Giucardi, B. Forbes. (2021) Cracking the Code on Cross-Functional Teams
Hagler, B. Forbes (2020) Overcoming Data Silos in Your Organization
Loom. (2023).Use Cases: Discover all the ways you can use Loom to connect and collaborate across your businessMonday.com. (2023). Workflow management platform
Microsoft (2023) Clarity
Moskovitz, S. Sales Hacker (2021) Removing Legal Bottlenecks to Accelerate Deal Cycles.
Russel, M. Juro. (2019) Cross-functional legal alignment: how to make friends.
Slack (2023) Platform for team and work.
Tally (2023). The simplest way to create forms.
Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting. (2020). Excel: The Dirty Secret.
Treter, K. (2023). Process Mapping 101: Identifying Gaps in Your Operational Framework. Medium.
Trello (2023). Team collaboration tool.
Trentmann, N. The Wall Street Journal. (2021). Finance Chiefs Are Still Trying to Replace Excel with New Tools
Yaqub, M. Business DIT. (2023).Business Automation Statistics 2023: That Will Spark Your Creativity
Zoom. (2023). Connection platform.


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January 27, 2023

Legal Operations: The 3 Ps of Legal Ops

Legal operations can be overwhelming. From the CLOC core competencies and the ACC legal ops maturity model, this blog distills the topic into three main buckets.

Dear Legal Ops!
Welcome to this week’s Let’s talk about Legal Ops, offered by Newton. We tackle corporate legal departments, speed up processes, and career growth. Please send us your questions; in return, we come back with real insights and actionable tips.
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Over the last five years or so, legal operations (or legal ops) has evolved from being a buzzword to an established legal function. Yet, this fast evolution hasn’t been without its growing pains.

Despite significant conversation around the topic, many legal professionals are yet to become confident in understanding and executing legal operation activities. And it’s not surprising; the vast array of terms and the growing expectations can be overwhelming.

While there are detailed frameworks to help structure legal operations – such as the CLOC 12 core competencies and the ACC legal operations maturity model – the vast legal ops landscape has left many legal professionals perplexed about where to start.

That said, in light of the current economic climate, there’s no arguing that legal operations and its efforts to streamline processes, improve productivity and better manage costs are needed more now than ever before.

So how can we simplify legal operations?

In this article, we will cover the following:

1. People

As with most business functions, it is people and human intelligence that enable any set of business activities and processes to deliver great legal results.

When it comes to people in a legal operations context, there are no official certification requirements. While a JD or MBA might prove helpful, there are other traits that make for a successful legal operations professional. Such qualities include;

  • A strong understanding of the business and its objectives
  • The ability to translate business priorities into a legal context
  • Exceptional outside counsel management
  • A belief that the legal function can act as a strategic growth enabler

There are two areas to focus on when thinking about people in a legal operations context.

Organizational optimization

The first, organizational optimization, is centered on the legal team, both at an individual level and a team level. This involves crafting and executing a strategic plan to build a streamlined, effective legal team.

Putting a focus on organizational optimization will see you strategically thinking about your hiring initiatives, building clear and motivational career paths, and developing your onboarding and offboarding processes. It even includes planning team-building activities to support the development of team morale and strong relationships, which, as a result, aid the team’s ability to execute projects effectively.

Knowledge management

Almost 30% of legal departments identified knowledge management as a weakness that was revealed during the pandemic.

Secondly, knowledge management and information governance are critical to ensure the sustainability and value-add of your legal function. You need to capture, distribute and effectively utilise a structured knowledge asset that supports your company’s compliance and operational requirements.

Don’t let the somewhat uninspiring term “information governance” fool you. This can be a real scalability enabler if set up and executed well. Developing effective information governance is about protecting, organising and capitalising on valuable information that can help internal and external initiatives.

Information governance has the greatest impact when you use it to develop standard operating procedures and playbooks which can then be shared across the business.

In practice, this might mean creating a legal website where both the legal team and your business counterparts can access relevant information. It also might mean scoping learning and development opportunities for your team such as courses, webinars, or conferences.

2. Payments

A large portion of legal workload is centred around money in and money out;

controlling costs is a high priority for 85% of legal teams. That’s why the second pillar of legal operations is payments. Generally, payments fall into two categories.

External support

It’s rare that a legal team will operate without any external support. Generally speaking, legal departments will work closely with outside counsel to deliver their legal services.

Managing a comprehensive outside counsel program means maximizing the return on investment, improving predictability, and enhancing the scalability of the services we use. It’s important to think wider than just law firms; we need to consider vendors and other externally managed services also. We must include services that are outside the realm of traditional legal matters and consider collaborative initiatives.

For example, support to launch internal and external programs, university engagement, and developing your diversity initiatives. It might also include team development activities such as going to conferences that can help you better understand service delivery trends and how to effectively work with alternative legal service providers to optimize cost-saving measures.

Financial planning

The legal department is, of course, responsible for the legal budget and strategy. Legal operations bring financial planning and analysis to the forefront to ensure forecasts and strategies are best suited to both legal and wider business objectives.

In collaboration with legal leadership, those responsible for legal operations will plan and review the budget to ensure it complements the business strategy. Legal operations is the link between legal and the rest of the business so it is critical to first understand the company’s budget.

Check our blogpost on How to Create a Legal Ops Budget to get more insights about common mistakes and pitfalls and set for success.

Review whatever documentation is available, build strong relationships with business stakeholders, and work towards positioning legal as a strategic partner. From there, you will better understand the legal budget and how it contributed towards the wider strategy.

When building your legal budget, you’ll find that some legal spend is relatively predictable. However, adopting a legal operations mindset means that you will explore the unknown and aim to cater to the dynamic landscape through your budgeting. Having a robust spending and matter management system in place will help you track your spending, predict future costs and better manage uncertainty.

To execute this, you will likely want to set regular budget meetings with Finance and Accounting, being sure to include your legal leadership team too. You will need to create and maintain an accrual workbook, updating it at the end of every month to ensure it presents an accurate picture of legal spend to interested business parties.

Lastly, while you might assume that talent and hiring would come under the People category, it’s important to include it in your payment considerations also. Set regular talent planning meetings within the legal team and pull in the HR or talent team as appropriate. Every person that you hire or any promotions that are made will impact the legal budget and must be managed accordingly.

3. Process

Legal operations is all about establishing effective processes so it’s only natural for this to be the final pillar. Legal ops considers processes in a number of different ways.


Gartner predicts legal technology spending will increase to approximately 12% of in-house budgets by 2025, a threefold increase from 2020 levels.

This is just one indicator of the rise of technology for in-house legal teams.

Technology unlocks a legal department’s capabilities to drive performance, reduce costs, operate more efficiently, and improve cross-functional collaboration. Much of this is made possible thanks to tech’s ability to collect and analyze relevant data. Using the right tools and industry sources to track key metrics and build dashboards helps to identify and address inefficiencies, optimise spending, and better forecast.

A key part of legal operations is the management of technology and workflows. Nowadays, you will likely be making use of software, so it’s important to establish effective vendor management skills. Implementing new technology into your business will require regular monitoring of performance and a comprehensive change management approach.

What does technology and data analytics look like in practice? Well, as mentioned, you’ll develop metrics and analytics dashboards, as well as build your legal tech roadmap and ensure your legal operations are aligned with the legal and business strategy.

Project management

Legal operations has presented the opportunity for legal professionals to tap into their creativity. Establishing effective processes requires vision and the ability to think outside the box. It requires strong cross-functional collaboration in order to identify and solve problems.

The legal ops function is heavily centered on developing workflows that improve the quality, speed, and scalability of legal activities. A key foundation of this is the project management capabilities of the individual and team driving these transformations.

It’s all about finding opportunities for improvement, exploring innovative ways to address these challenges, and then developing clear and actionable steps to achieve them. One reason legal operations has seen such success over the last five years or so is due to its ability to have a significant impact without the need to spend a lot of money. For example, you might execute process improvement exercises to identify where there is currently friction in a workflow and implement either gradual or transformational changes that deliver better results.

Evidently, change management is also a foundation of project management and legal operations more broadly. The best legal ops functions improve the delivery of legal services with the controlled identification and implementation of required changes.

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By distilling the broad topic of legal operations into people, payments, and processes, we can simplify how we understand legal ops as well as improve buy-in and the likelihood of implementing effective legal ops initiatives. This better understanding will enable legal teams to set themselves – and their processes – up for success in the long term.

With legal operations being the link between legal and the wider business, it is absolutely key to embed business acumen into the legal function. Having an appreciation for business strategy and effective cross-functional communication and collaboration skills will help legal professionals overcome the top challenges present in the world of in-house legal.

Newton delivers an easy and intuitive platform to manage and automate your legal entities’ information, governance, and compliance. If your entity management processes are currently creating friction for your team (which they are for many), be sure to get in touch to explore how Newton can help you have everything you need to be in control of your entity portfolio.

About this article


CLOC (2020). CLOC Announces Updates To Its Core 12 Functions Of Legal Operations
ACC (2020). ACC Legal Operations Maturity Model 2.0
Gartner (2021). Gartner Predicts Legal Technology Budgets Will Increase Threefold by 2025
Thomson Reuters Institute (2022). 2022 Legal Department Operations Index
Gartner (2021). 2021 Legal Planning & Budgeting


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January 13, 2023

How to avoid Silos Work in Legal Ops

How to implement digitalization, service delivery, collaboration, business strategy, and business culture to avoid silos.

Dear Legal Ops!
Welcome to this week’s Let’s talk about Legal Ops, offered by Newton. We tackle corporate legal departments, speed up processes, and career growth. Please send us your questions; in return, we come back with real insights and actionable tips.
If you find this post valuable, don't miss the chance to check out our latest posts.

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For companies to survive in today’s volatile economy and grow revenue, cross-silo collaboration is essential. But performance management systems discourage it. More than 8,000 senior managers across biotech, banking, consumer products, energy, and law are found to be affected by siloed performance targets.

Most companies incentivize employees to maximize short-term results, making them focus on reaching their numbers at the cost of losing sight of the organization’s larger goals. Despite this, legal operations continue to succeed.

The main reason, more companies realize how beneficial legal operations can be to their legal department and overall company. Across the globe, companies create efficient legal departments and optimize workflows every day.

This article offers tips on managing legal operations and ensuring the entire organization benefits successfully.

In this article, we will cover the following:

Legal operations ensure that the firm offers legal services efficiently and profitably to stimulate the legal departments’ growth and performance. It also involves running a law firm’s business side, which includes;

  • Increasing company productivity
  • Reducing/avoiding risks
  • Compliance monitoring
  • Handling departmental budgets
  • Implementing new technologies
  • Using legal analytics tools to analyze data
  • Third-party provider sourcing and management

Achieving operational excellence often involves focusing efforts on specific departments or teams and implementing strategies accordingly.

Any activity that keeps a business running falls under the category of operations. Aside from the items above, several departments and processes support them, such as:

  • Sales
  • IT
  • Facilities management
  • HR
  • Finance
  • Marketing

Organize Your Company to Avoid Silos Work

Divergent goals of different units of an organization can result in silos of work. In addition to being an obstacle to collaboration and leading to decreased performance, silos also make it difficult for customers to have a positive experience.

Using customer knowledge is the best way to make decisions. But due to time pressure and lack of information, business decisions are often based on assumptions. Often, information is needed to reinforce an existing conclusion or speed up a current procedure.

Unfortunately, most companies have silos with a limited understanding of their customers instead of sharing the same knowledge across teams and adding information specific to that team. In the customer’s eyes, these silos manifest as communication breakdowns, contradictory information, poor service, or other forms of negativity.

Ultimately, success in todays marketplace reflects the culture you promote, so it is extremely important to align your strategy accordingly.

To facilitate collaboration across departments, here are a few practical tips:

A successful digital transformation requires cross-functional collaboration. Why? Because the success of a business depends on all departments working together in symbiosis to maximize revenue.

A strong partnership with the legal department, specifically legal operations, is beneficial to the overall health and success of the company. Due to social and economic factors, organizations are re-imagining legacy technologies and processes to collaborate remotely.

Across businesses, legal ops teams have been formed as a strategic priority to ensure cross-functional alignment. In addition to compliance and risk management, legal operations are the glue that holds together the legal function and touches every department in the organization.

The legal role in a business evolves, and so must its relationships. Below are a few ways legal ops can align with other business departments.

The legal department often acts as a cost center in less innovative firms and dictates contract terms within a silo. In a 2018 study on contract management, 87% of employees said legal reviews could take up to six weeks. Often, legal is blamed for the prolonged sales cycle and bottlenecks across departments.

But a more efficient communication system, processes, and technology can help the legal department leverage its strategic positioning within a company. The legal department can lead the charge by creating best practices:

  • For cross-functional communication
  • Advocating easy information exchange
  • Making sure documents are accessible when needed

By doing so, each department and the company can run more efficiently. Moreover, businesses can thrive internally and externally by streamlining cross-functional processes and maintaining healthy workplace relationships.

Incorporating Technology into Your Business

Tech tools help encourage cross-departmental operational team collaboration in the legal department. Despite not having the biggest tech stack, legal can benefit from investment in tools that:

  • Manage vendor relationships
  • Reduce outside counsel spending
  • Manage online contracts

With digital contracting and contract management, legal ops can better understand all contracts without micromanaging their execution. These tools allow them to embark on cross-functional initiatives impacting the business significantly.

Exchange of Knowledge

Since Legal works with every department, they must provide new and innovative information-sharing methods. Legal is often the company’s compliance expert (unless there is a separate compliance department) and provides guidelines for operating with less risk for the rest of the company.

Strategic planning can benefit more than just legal ops. In this case, you might need to procure a tool with the following:

  • A robust reporting system that is accessible by all departments
  • Stores and tracks all contracts in one place
  • Provides other departments with the necessary data

Developing Standard agreements

Aside from providing strategic business input, the legal department also oversees contracting. Yet contracts tend to take up the majority of their time, which leaves the Legal department with little time to focus on:

  • On higher-value agreements, when drafting new terms for low-value contracts
  • Reviewing vendor and sales agreements before they are sent out
  • And keeping track of versions and updates for existing online agreements

However, legal ops can better organize contracts by differentiating between standardized and personalized contracts and identifying which ones to focus on. They can create pre-approved terms for other departments to add to or remove from agreements theyre negotiating and redlining, such as M&A deals.

This allows them time to negotiate and redline high-value contracts.

Developing a Strategy

A siloed legal operations department cannot form a strategy. Legal ops and in-house must be fully aware of the company’s goals and strategic initiatives and how their role contributes to them.

It is more effective for legal to collaborate with other departments in developing a strategy that aligns with and supports the goals of the individual departments and the company. Changing simple processes like contract management can improve cross-functional alignment with legal and legal operations.

It is possible to streamline legal processes and enhance the relationship between legal and other departments by implementing legal technology like digital contracting.

Making Technology Work for You

Technology is king in professional services today. Besides measuring operational efficiency, it also frees up your team from a lot of administrative work and adds intelligence to the process.

Using color-coded antiquated spreadsheets as a unified source of truth will only cause more inaccurate data across project management, legal operations, and finance.

Team members are often forced to fill out unnecessary spreadsheets used only for payroll. This slows down teams. For resource management or time registration, for example, spreadsheets or disparate systems won’t be able to move data efficiently simply because they’re not designed for this.

Let’s examine spreadsheets for a moment. Are they capable of providing answers to questions like

  • Is the project currently on track?
  • Is there an operating margin?
  • Is the project profitable?

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Spreadsheets are not the answer

They can’t be since spreadsheets can only automate a few things. Thus, if a spreadsheet is a barrier to getting your work done or tackling the core issue quickly, you should consider another way to improve your personal KPIs.

It can be challenging to track how the numbers relate to the actual operation, even after gathering the numbers. Essentially, each operation becomes a black box: inputs go in, outputs come out, and little attention is paid to how the transformation works.

This is an obvious disadvantage of using point solutions from different vendors or, more importantly, the lack of connectivity between them. To avoid this outcome, service businesses have begun to use centralized software.

Additionally, it’s always challenging to keep separate spreadsheets updated for management problems. People forget to fill them out or do not have the time to do so. There is often no way to know how the changes you make might impact the work of several others.

Software Can Help You Make the Digital Transition

An organization seeking to expand during the digital age must have an entity management system. Companies need a solution that simplifies all compliance aspects to navigate compliance and grow effectively.

With Newton’s corporate services offerings, your organization will benefit from a full-service team of professionals dedicated to simplifying your business processes and enhancing your growth.

You no longer need to worry about locating compliance documents, ensuring departments work together, or hiring an internal team as you grow. With a full range of corporate services and entity management solutions, we’re here to help. Find out how Newton can help your business today.

About this article


Harvard Business Review (2022). Performance Management Shouldn't Kill Collaboration
StartMyLLC (2023). Contract Management Statistics 2023 – Everything You Need to Know
Forecast app (2021). How to Improve Operational Efficiency: A Start-to-Finish Guide
CLOC (2019). What Is Legal Operations?
BCD.CA. MakingTechnology Work for Your Business – A Guide for Entrepreneurs
Asana (2022). 6 ways digital transformation can improve your business


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December 30, 2022

What is Legal Operations?

Legal operations is revolutionizing the way the world of in-house legal operates. This article is an introduction to legal ops and how it can benefit you.

Dear Legal Ops!
Welcome to this week’s Let’s talk about Legal Ops, offered by Newton. We tackle corporate legal departments, speed up processes, and career growth. Please send us your questions; in return, we come back with real insights and actionable tips.
If you find this post valuable, don't miss the chance to check out our latest posts.

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In the past, legal processes were among the longest and most laborsome in business.

With the legal team often being the point of entry and exit for business matters, these cumbersome processes created friction both internally and externally. In turn, this resulted in damaged relationships, the slow development of business opportunities, and, in some cases, blocked revenue.

However, the pace of business has been increasing over the last decade. With 70% of companies now having a digital transformation strategy in place*, there is a strong focus on building more efficient and impactful processes.

While legal teams were once left behind, the emergence of a legal specialism dedicated to streamlining legal processes and implementing effective tools has enabled legal professionals to operate more efficiently and take on a more strategic role in the business.

Introducing “legal operations”, or “legal ops” (as it’s more commonly known).

In this article, we’ll share an introduction to legal operations and what areas you need to be thinking about to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your legal team.

In this article, we will cover the following:

“Legal operations” describes the set of processes and tools that a business uses to execute legal work. It is all about driving efficiency and effectiveness to reduce costs and improve performance.

When you put a focus on legal operations, you’re taking action to streamline processes, embed tools and technologies that offer a high return on investment, and enhance cross-functional collaboration. In fact, legal operations professionals are often said to be the link between legal and the rest of the business. For example, priorities include controlling outside counsel costs, using technology to simplify workflow and manual processes, and focusing on internal data security.

As a result, the legal department is able to achieve more with fewer resources, deliver more impactful outcomes that are aligned with wider business goals, and the team will be able to take on a more strategic role within the company.

As technology progresses at pace and the number of legal tech vendors expands, legal ops functions will increasingly deliver significant cost and time savings for their businesses.

While the formation of the legal ops concept is relatively new, some aspects of legal ops have been around for decades.

Pre-1990, legal teams were focused solely on risk management*. As we moved through the 1990s and into the 2000s, there was a shift towards more strategic activity. However, this work was generally executed by outside counsel as in-house teams grappled with admin-heavy internal requests.

As legal fees began to skyrocket in line with inflation and demand, businesses and their legal teams began to focus on optimizing processes and saving money. Now, in light of the harsh economic climate and endless drive for efficient growth, legal departments are establishing a culture of continuous improvement.

The rise of legal operations encourages legal professionals to strategically use technology and legal service providers to drive efficiency and reduce costs.

When it comes to legal operations, your main point of reference should be the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (or CLOC, as it’s usually referred to). CLOC is a global community of experts focused on redefining the business of law and it is one of the main driving forces behind the progression of legal operations.  

Defined by CLOC, there are 12 core competencies of legal operations. These competencies represent areas of focus that every legal department needs to manage to have a disciplined, efficient, and effective legal function. Think of these as the ingredients you need to have a well-oiled in-house legal machine. Let’s explore a summary of each.

Financial management

When budgets are stretched and, in some cases, on the decline, it becomes even more critical to effectively optimize the finances in the legal department. Where once there were discrepancies, friction with other teams, and a lack of informed decision-making, there is now a focus on proactive, intelligent financial management.

Legal operations include mechanisms to better set and manage the budget for the legal function. Legal departments need to work with the finance team to proactively spot efficiency opportunities, act upon spending trends, and explore cost savings.

Firm and vendor management

In the past, outside support was often chosen as a result of historical contracts or personal relationships. This approach often resulted in suboptimal rates and effectiveness of support.

But your portfolio of vendors needs to be well-monitored. Ensuring optimal fee arrangements with outside counsel and favorable payment options with legal tech vendors will ensure the sustainability of your legal function.

Observing the quality of output from vendors will allow you to secure a good return on your investment and deliver impactful outcomes for the business. In practice, this focus on cost and quality might look like regular reviews and the negotiation of fee arrangements.

Business intelligence

Historically, legal teams have had minimal access to data that could be used to inform decision-making. Now, thanks to cross-functional collaboration and new technologies, legal teams can now operate based on data, not guesswork.

Making use of the data and insights available both inside and outside of the legal department, you can identify trends and spot opportunities to improve the performance of the legal function. As your team grows, you’ll be able to nurture the skills within the legal department and make increasingly better use of the data available to you.

Information governance

Legal is the gatekeeper of valuable information. Yet, especially in companies that are growing quickly, it is often a challenge to maintain clean information governance. This lack of structure can put the company at risk and make it difficult to provide the right information at the right time.

Legal operations brings focus to the need for clear and comprehensive guidelines for the sharing and retention of this information. Good information governance reduces risk and creates confidence for teams internally as well as for customers and prospective clients.


Legal has been a slow, admin-heavy function for too long now. Thankfully, in an effort to manage a growing workload and drive efficiency, legal professionals are looking to legal tech for a solution. Now, 71% see using technology to simplify workflow as a high priority.

Gartner predicts that legal technology budgets will increase threefold by 2025*. Whether it’s a contract management platform, equity management software, or an entity management solution like Newton, the goal is to implement tools that will automate low-value, high-volume tasks and free up time to be spent on higher-value, more strategic activity.

Training and development

Where once the legal department operated in silo, it is increasingly acknowledged as a valuable business partner. After all, legal is a business topic; it’s not just for lawyers.

Legal operations propose the creation of quality, tailored training around legal matters for colleagues both inside and outside of the legal team. Whether you run a session on new legislation that’s coming into play or develop a section for the onboarding experience of new staff, delivering to the training requirements of the business will better ensure compliance and engagement.

Strategic planning

In today’s economic climate, all business functions must align and work towards the same overarching goals. Thanks to legal tech, in-house legal teams can now free up time to focus on more strategic work that helps to position them as business advisors.

To deliver better outcomes, you must set goals that serve the needs of the legal department and that are also aligned with wider business objectives. Legal leaders and their teams must take a more holistic approach to the design of their legal strategy, ensuring it supports the company’s longer-term vision.

Service delivery models

As we’ve all experienced, there are instances when historical processes can go against us. For legal departments, assigning work to a particular service provider by “default” can be surprisingly costly and have a negative impact on delivery.

The vendor ecosystem has become increasingly complex to avoid wasting time and delivering subpar work, build and monitor your vendor portfolio over time. Understand which vendors best deliver different types of work—and whether the costs align with your expectations—and route projects accordingly.

Project management

Project management is a critical aspect of legal operations. Often one of the most time-consuming yet impactful parts of legal ops, project management sees legal teams designing and implementing initiatives to make the legal team and wider business more efficient and effective. These are often complex projects that require competent change management skills.

Practice operations

Legal professionals are highly skilled individuals. Yet, many in-house legal teams are continually bogged down with a high volume of low-impact but necessary tasks. This results in wasted talent and money as an unengaged team.

The practice operations focus aims to enable legal professionals to focus on legal matters. By implementing automation and streamlined processes, lawyers can spend less time on operational tasks and more time on practice-specific matters such as entity management, eDiscovery, and contract management.

Not only will your legal team be more engaged in their work, but the business will reap the benefits of putting their skills towards higher-value tasks.

Organization optimization and health

For too long now, heavy workloads due to expanding job scope and lack of strategic responsibility offered by executives have resulted in legal departments being mostly reactive with no clear vision. Without a vision, it’s nearly impossible to adequately prepare for the future, meaning there will be an inefficient allocation of resources, and important aspects of the employee experience—such as career opportunities and skills development—will be overlooked.

Optimizing the legal department is all about building a high-performing and motivated team. You need to understand the legal department’s strategy (which must be aligned with the wider business strategy). From there, you can hire individuals with the right skills and diverse perspectives to encourage continual improvement and support career growth.

By supporting the individuals in the legal department to work towards their personal ambitions, you’ll create a sustainable, enthused team that delivers better business outcomes.

Knowledge management

As a result of a high volume of historically manual yet necessary tasks, legal teams have a significant workload. Often, this means there has been no time to define and implement best practices. However, as your team and function scale, it’s crucial to have processes in place that ensure consistency and quality while mitigating risk.

Effective knowledge management sees the centralization of knowledge. By centralizing documentation, insights, and best practices, you can create a more even playing field that empowers all team members. Moreover, when there is a clear understanding of procedures, the legal team will deliver more consistent service to other teams, ensuring standards are maintained.

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The formation of your legal operations function is unique to your business. It will also evolve as your team and company mature. There are generally three different ways that legal ops can make its way into your legal department:

  1. Legal ops as part of a wider job description
  2. A dedicated legal ops professional
  3. A dedicated legal ops team

For smaller companies, perhaps with a sole in-house lawyer or external consultant, legal operations may be one part of someone’s job description. For slightly bigger companies, perhaps with a legal team of three or more, you may have a dedicated legal ops professional. Some very large companies have a whole team to focus on these topics, but for the majority of small to medium-sized businesses, it’s likely that it will sit within the core legal team.

Legal departments of all sizes are under increasing pressure to mitigate risk while also understanding the risk appetite of the business. They have a responsibility to protect the company while also now enabling growth and advising on strategic matters. Not to mention, they need to manage outside counsel and ensure budgets are adhered to.

Reducing the time spent on low-value, high-volume tasks so legal teams can spend more time on high-impact, strategic work is exactly where legal operations come in. And it can benefit all businesses, no matter the size or stage.

But it’s not just about the team. To truly drive efficiencies and enhance performance, legal teams need to be equipped with the right tools and technology. As listed above, technology is one of the 12 core competencies of legal ops.

If you want to take your legal function to the next level, you need to assess your current situation—including business priorities, resource plans, budget, and most importantly, current pain points—and explore what technology will be able to drive efficiency in your company.

Where does Newton fit into all of this?

Newton delivers an easy and intuitive platform to manage and automate your legal entities' information, governance, and compliance. If your entity management processes are currently creating friction for your team (which they are for many), be sure to get in touch to explore how Newton can help you have everything you need to be in control of your entity portfolio.

About this article


Forbes (2019). 100 Stats on Digital Transformation and Experience
CLOC (2020). What is legal operations?
Gartner (2021). Gartner Predicts That Legal Technology Budgets Will Increase Threefold by 2025
Thomson Reuters Institute (2022). 2022 Legal Department Operations Index


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