ALA's Certified Legal Manager Designation
In 2007, before ACC invited a small number of not-an-attorney legal professionals to join their ranks, before CLOC was formed, the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) was my first home in the legal operations profession. ALA was an invaluable resource, both in terms of services offered and generous colleagues.
Thirteen years later the ALA-sponsored Certified Legal Manager exam remains the respected and sole credentialing certification of the profession. Originally, I decided to take the exam to complement skills I learned in business school and supplements practical knowledge accumulated on the job.
The knowledge set – focused on finance, human resources, business operations and the legal industry – is essential to anyone running a business. While contextualized in the practice of law, what business does not need to set expectations for its counsel or to protect itself from legal risk?
Completing the course pre-requisites and studying took a considerable commitment above and beyond a typical administrator’s already full work schedule. The exam was difficult. The preparation was well worth the effort.
Working in a corporate law department, I benefit from drawing upon subject area experts for every area my job touches. My primary responsibility is to be an informed subject-area generalist, and a process specialist focused on fostering cross-functional collaboration, and managing projects, budgets and business planning. Preparing for the exam sharpened my ability to know when to raise questions, to be more specific in inquiries and improved my subject area vocabulary. The syllabus also broadened the resources I draw upon in areas familiar to me. And the continuing education requirement encourages discipline in remaining current on emerging developments.
In preparation, the ALA NYC Education Committee had provided a number of study aids, including a CD-ROM with study notes from colleagues who had passed the CLM exam before me. Those notes were invaluable to me in preparing for the exam and in jump starting my career.
Inspired by that experience, I pulled together over 30 key templates from my first ten years leading corporate legal operations teams in a kit on a flash drive, packaged with hard copies and magic, creating Ops in a Box, Legal Edition. This magical kit is meant to help jump start legal operations for corporate law departments and law firms. It is the first essential tool kit for Legal Ops Professionals seeking to launch their strategic plan, for seasoned operations teams seeking to fine tune existing tools and for small departments that need operations help aids but do not have the budget for a full-time operations professional.