What’s a pioneer? Just like when Lewis and Clark explored the vast wilderness of the western U.S., pioneers are the explorers. They’re the innovators, the experimenters, the founders of next big ideas, the transformation leaders in legal operations.
You need these visionaries exploring new products, new services, new markets, new tech, and transforming legal operations with their findings.
This is exactly what Mike Russell did at Ingersoll-Rand.
His mission? To build legal operations from nothing at this global manufacturing company and get the legal ship moving in the right direction. As a former software engineer, IT director and ongoing legal technology expert, Russell transformed his new company’s legal team.
What were the major challenges this explorer faced?
“The most challenging part was around resources and the combination of money and people to do the work,” Russell mentions.
Basically, when building a lean legal operations team from nothing, you have to wear a lot of hats and forge into the jungle, as it were, to really interface with law firms. You can’t be afraid of dealing with that.
“I think that’s what leads to better law firm relationships and better management of the legal spend,” Russell states.
What are the most important elements when forging this new path?
- Project management is a huge part of the job. Especially when in the middle of the heavy lifting for the e-billing and matter management system.
- Monitoring metrics. Russell’s team holds regular meetings to review and reflect on the data – both leading and trailing.
- Process improvement. Russell works closely with the litigation team to constantly look for opportunities to improve processes and increase efficiencies.
- Cross-functional teamwork. Overhauling the legal operations process and implementing new legal management technology takes collaboration with stakeholders across an enterprise. The right people have to work together to drive the entire business forward through the right tech.
Ultimately, “There are always the ad hoc requests that will pop up along the way and consume more time than is expected,” Russell states. Learning to juggle the various requirements is incredibly important.
What kind of tech helped him forge his legal team’s future?
“Certainly the most important thing is being able to get your hands around your data and your information. So having a solid foundation of the electronic billing, matter management, connections to your corporate financial systems of records, that’s kind of the bare minimum to be able to really do anything,” Russell states.
What comes next? Analytics and business intelligence tools.
“What did we do last month or last quarter? That’s nice. But we’re really much more interested in looking around the corner and seeing what’s coming up, how are we doing now? What does this year to date look like versus last year at this time?” Russell asks.
That’s where the more sophisticated tools come in to play.
Looking for more ways to pioneer your legal ops future? Here are some helpful resources: