Run Your Legal Department Like a Business

Law school prepares attorneys for the rigors of practicing law, but a legal education spends far less time on the rigors of running a business.  When a legal department is treated like a business unit, however, opportunities arise to improve efficiency, control costs, and develop a plan for sustainable growth that fits within the goals and trajectory of the organization as a whole.

To better integrate your legal department into the organization and improve its performance as a business unit, consider the following steps to running your legal department like a business:

  1. Track your department’s workload.

No legal department can improve its efficiency and integration until it knows what work is being done on which projects.  Although the concept sounds simple, it can be difficult for a legal department to track its own work without a specific system in place to do so.  Create a system for tracking the department’s workload, and use the data collected as a starting point for business management.

  1. Build a budget.

Every business knows, often to the penny, how much it has spent in the past quarter and how that spending compares to expected spending for that quarter.  However, it’s easy for legal department staff to lose track of spending when immersed in legal issues.  Track your department’s spending, and create budgets that allow you to analyze past spending, predict future expenditures, and identify places and processes where costs can be trimmed.

  1. Identify your stakeholders and their expectations.

For a legal department, the top “stakeholders” typically include the CEO and the board of directors.  By identifying your department’s stakeholders and their expectations, you clarify which goals your legal department should prioritize and identify opportunities for meeting them efficiently and completely.

  1. Talk about your successes.

Few businesses can survive without marketing.  For a legal department, this means talking about your successes with key players in the organization – not only the CEO and the board of directors, but also key personnel in other departments.  Remind the rest of the company that the legal department plays a key role in its success and that the legal department is committed to fulfilling that role in a thorough, organized, and efficient manner.

At Assigned Counsel, our experienced recruiters help place legal talent in legal department positions throughout the United States.  Contact us today.

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