Running Legal Like A Business - Ch. 3 - Legal Department Reporting

Connie Brenton and Susan Lambreth's book on the fundamentals of legal operations for law departments (PLI Press, December 2021) is timely and information rich.  I am as pleased as punch they invited me to participate.  The book can be purchased in the PLI Bookstore.

My father, Mike Trotter, was among the first to teach on the "business of law" - in his case with a focus on law firms - at Emory Law School in the 1990s. During conversations around that time dad encouraged me to pursue a career in legal operations, arguing convincingly that ops professionals would transform the business of law for the 21st century.  Legal operations is fun because so many of us pursue no less than this lofty goal with passion and persistence.  

To focus on the future, you first have to be able to manage your work portfolio and this is where Ops in a Box, Legal Edition (OBL) comes in.  OBL is a magical grab-and-go kit for a number of typical legal ops assignments.  With the template in hand, you can get a draft document, from a strategic plan to a budget, done on day one and meet those tight deadlines.

My copy of Running Legal Like A Business arrived last Thursday. I  am taking my time to read it in order to absorb the dense information.  For the next few weeks, this blog will focus on the book by chapter.  This week, focus is on chapter 3 on reporting by Jodie Baker of Xakia Technologies. 

Jodie takes a practical approach to segmenting the legal ops audience, thinking about what information each audience will find most useful and on what cadence.  She lists the two primary clients for the law department, the business units and CEO, and legal operations' intermediate client groups, law department leadership and the attorneys corps. Her 5th audience is the Board of Directors (BOD).  

In OBL the CEO and BOD or shareholders are considered in the same audience group, in the CEO's role as a Board member and advisor. OBL's 5th audience is the CFO.  OBL includes sample reports geared towards the CEO and CFO respectively. The OBL CEO report is typically used by the CLO to prepare the CEO for a BOD or annual shareholder's meeting. Our bulleted highlights reference the report and are crafted with that context in mind.  The OBL CFO report is an annual budget report. The bulleted talking points generally focus on the top 10 or so strategic matters or buckets of matters, such as the IP portfolio.

Jodie notes that the report foci for CEO and BOD are strategy, risk and budget. Though Jodie buckets legal budget as primarily for the CEO, as noted above I typically emphasize budget with the CFO. 

Jodie suggests a cadence for each, which is more frequent than has been my experience (quarterly at most), but every company is different and she outlines the corporate calendar well.

Jodie emphasizes the importance of consistency in delivery on the established cadence and makes the excellent point that in periods of uncertainty this establishes a sense of normalcy and reassurance that risk is being monitored and addressed professionally.

Chapter 4 is on "The Advent of a Single Legal Operations Platform" by Liam Brown, Sharath Beedu, and Daniel Katz.  My curiosity is sparked.  Until next week.