Law Departments – Fractional Hiring of Legal Operations Professionals

By Scott Rosenberg – Unbiased Consulting

The value of the legal operations role within the legal department is now well accepted.  However, the ability to find experienced, qualified candidates has proven difficult and/or cost prohibitive. Unbiased Consulting provides an option to retain experienced resources on a part-time or temporary basis to drive cost savings and efficiency gains.  

The CLOC 2020 State of the Industry survey indicates that the average full time corporate legal operations professional supports fifteen (15) legal team members. Recent statistics also show a precipitous drop in the hiring of legal operations (legal ops) professionals, the result of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused labor costs to be strictly monitored—and reduced in many cases.  Yet, while organizations might be less likely to take on new staff, skilled managers remain in high demand.

Why are fractional legal operations resources needed?

Unbiased Consulting provides fractional legal ops resources to drive cost savings and efficiency gains through the legal department.  Our fractional resources possess unrivaled expertise and serve in roles as a legal ops Director, Manager or Specialist. They operate as an experienced, multi-faceted and hands-on senior advisor who serves in a part-time or temporary capacity to organizations that otherwise could not afford or need a full-time professional.

The key benefit of retaining a fractional legal ops professional is that they typically provide a greater level of expertise and capability of a full-time legal ops professional without the associated level of salary, benefits, hiring cost and overhead expense. Fractional legal ops professionals typically serve more than one organization while still managing the day-to-day legal operations projects, resources and technology infrastructure.

Some mid to smaller sized law departments do not need a full-time Legal Ops Director/Manager/Specialist, but they do need expert advice and direction on a regular basis. Other large law departments may have a need for a more experienced resource in building an operations team or assisting with a major initiative (e.g., strategic operational and technology planning, business process improvement, legal spend management or technology implementation).  Alternatively, a company may need to fill a void during a search process.

Unbiased Consulting Fractional Legal Operations Services

CLOC Core 12

With almost 30 years of experience in legal operations, Unbiased Consulting can fill the gap in providing capable, experienced and affordable legal operations resources. Our team consists of senior consultants and advisors with significant experience and subject matter expertise in areas of legal operations and technology. Most have significant operational experience having previously worked in an operations role—whether in-house, law firm, consulting firm or corporation. Many are attorneys, CPAs, CIOs, and IT professionals with advanced certifications in project management, Lean, Six Sigma and other process improvement disciplines. As importantly, when retaining our services as a fractional resource to your law department, that person is supported by the entire Unbiased team of operations and technology specialists should the need arise for specific areas of deeper expertise.

Specifically, and at your direction and oversight, those serving as a fractional legal operations resource will provide the following services and take on the following roles and responsibilities:

Director of Legal Operations is a critical senior leader who brings leadership, knowledge and experience necessary to drive peak operational performance. This position leads, oversees and manages all non-legal operational aspects of the legal ops function as directed by and in close coordination with the law department leadership team, including financial management and budgeting, information technology support coordination, outside counsel/vendor management, training on legal policies, departmental communications, project management support and general administrative support.  Essential job responsibilities typically include all or several of the following:

  • CLOC Announces Updates To Its Core 12 Functions Of Legal Operations - CLOCDeliver best in class support and provide innovative thought leadership to the CLO/GC,
  • Develop and execute initiatives to further enhance client service and delivery,
  • Work closely and coordinate with other areas of the company, across both corporate functions (e.g., Finance, HR, IT) or line of business,
  • Develop, institute and oversee management of:
    • Business plans, budgets and financial controls
    • Law firm and other third-party vendors
    • Information technology and governance
    • Client service and delivery
    • Project management
    • Performance measurement and reporting
    • General administration (including training and development, knowledge management, and organization optimization and health).

Manager of Legal Operations is similar to that of Director, the difference being responsibilities are narrower in assignment, more tactical in work effort, and less connected at a reporting level to the CLO/GC.

Legal Operations Specialist is a senior subject matter expert performing at a task level depending on need.

The resulting cost savings achieved from retaining our fractional legal ops professional can be significant.  Your return on investment is driven through receipt of timely and efficient project management, deep subject matter expertise (across a broad spectrum of legal practice and business operations discipline), and labor cost reduction. 

[i]Futurist for Hire—Alt-Legal Jobs React to Recession”, Bloomberg Law, Sept. 18, 2020