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Last week, we discussed the burgeoning legal department operations ("LDO") manager position in corporate legal departments. The relative newness is exemplified by the fact that LDO managers have been surveyed for less than ten years. But during that time, the field has grown, and with large corporations the likes of Ford Motor Co. and DuPont Legal leading the way, the number of LDO manager positions is likely to continue expanding.
Today, we examine the results of the Sixth Annual Law Department Operations Survey ("Survey") conducted by Inside Counsel, Blickstein Group, and Huron Legal. The findings indicate there are four major areas of concern for LDO managers today: cost, metrics, personnel and IT/cyber security.
Not surprisingly, cost concerns are forecasted as the biggest challenge in the next three years for over 2/3 of the LDO managers surveyed, according to the Survey. With an eye toward shifting the legal department from a cost center to a revenue generator, LDO managers have been able to contain costs predominantly with alternative fee arrangements and outsourcing.
To effectively manage cost, it must be tracked, and the LDO managers surveyed use formal metrics. Cost concerns such as the relation between legal spend and revenue, expense and budget, and total expenses, top the areas tracked, and are followed by compliance and days to resolution of matters.
One of the pitfalls of the LDO manager's position is that there is relatively no room for growth, as far as career advancement goes. As such, one way to keep LDO employees motivated is by "rotational assignments and internal projects," said one consultant.
The threat of a cyber security breach is of concern to many LDO managers, and the IT trend in legal departments is going toward a "holistic approach," by streamlining the technology used across the company.
It should be noted that currently, LDO managers rated their top challenge in managing the law department as "driving/implementing change." If an LDO manager is to be truly effective in her role to more efficiently run the legal department, roadblocks to progress must be eliminated, otherwise, what's the point? If your company is going to go as far as hiring an LDO manager, then don't stand in their way when they find room for improvement.
Does your company have an LDO manager? What are their top concerns? If not, does your company plan to bring on one? Let us know on Facebook at FindLaw for Legal Professionals.
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