New technologies and processes are transforming in-house legal departments, but staffing models, too, are shifting to create new efficiencies and respond to the need for updated departmental skills and expertise. Meet the legal department operations (LDO) professionals – a new position in corporate legal departments that is increasingly helping free up attorney time to focus on legal matters instead of operational ones. The recognition that operations, innovation, technology, and procurement should actually be the responsibility of an identifiable individual, rather than part of the portfolio of the general counsel is the biggest emerging trend in legal operations. The legal department operations (LDO) professional is typically occupied with project management, financial planning, and managing outside counsel. But these legal department operations (LDO) professionals are also responsible for strategy, goal setting, and managing budgets, people, and vendors. Additionally, legal department operations (LDO) professionals play a crucial role in change management, which might explain their recent popularity. The legal department operations (LDO) professional is often the person to decide what technology changes make sense and to determine how those technologies should be implemented with consideration of financial and operational implications such as budgeting, staffing requirements, outsourcing, and training.
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