In-house tips for an in-shape 2021

2020 has felt like the longest year ever, but hopefully you’re now ready to enjoy a well-earned holiday break.

When you are back on deck… January is often quieter on the work front and a good opportunity to get some things off your to-do list.

January is also traditionally a time to make New Year’s resolutions, which often fall by the wayside long before the end of February. We promise to lose weight or get fitter, clean out the shed or finally write that novel we have been meaning to for so long.

Despite our best intentions, it is usually the case that by the end of the year we find we have made so little progress that we can re-use our resolutions the following year!

However, when it comes to business, resolutions can be a powerful tool, not least because they can legitimately be worked on in the office!

With that in mind, here are three legal operations New Year resolutions you can start on in January to set you up for an efficient and effective 2021.

  1. Start with a plan – This should be on one page with SMART goals and aligned to your organisation’s strategy.
    This ensures you and your team are focused on what’s important to the business. If you are doing work that isn’t aligned with the plan, work out how to reduce or stop doing that work, for example, by implementing self-help tools for the business.
  2. Simplify processes – Through remote working this year, inefficiencies in processes such as approval and execution (among others) have no doubt already been highlighted.
    If you haven’t already fixed them, January is the time. Remove unnecessary steps to simplify the process and then consider automating both the approval and execution steps. Talk to your IT team about how you can do this with tools you already have (for example, Microsoft PowerApps).
  3. Collect data – Think about what data your team should capture to help you improve how you deliver legal services to the business.
    For example, you might like to track turnaround times, which business units new matters come from, and the types of legal requests received. Then, implement a system to track it. You could use an Excel spreadsheet or Form (MS or Google) to do this.
    Diarise time each month or quarter to review the data as a team and discuss what should change and action it; for example, does the data suggest some business units need more training on a particular issue or do your template contracts need updating?
    Having data will help you prioritise what to change and support your business case for any changes that require budget.

This article appears courtesy of the Queensland Law Society In-house Lawyers Committee. Jemima Harris is Head of Legal Operations & Tech at LOD and a member of the committee.

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