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7 Tips For Getting Started On Your Legal Department Strategy

Embarking on the development of a legal department strategy can be a daunting task, but it’s a crucial step in aligning your team’s goals with the broader objectives of your organisation.

Here are seven tips to help you get started on your legal department strategy.

1. Understand The Current State

Before you can chart a course for the future, you need to know where you stand. Conduct a comprehensive audit of your legal function, both financially and operationally. This will involve gathering data and soliciting feedback from your team and stakeholders.

These are some steps you can take:

  • Gather as much information as possible from your enterprise finance systems on legal spend, matters and law firms
  • Ask your law firms to provide you a list of past and current matters including invoiced spend and budgets
  • Gather information from your internal legal team about their views on what is working and what is not
  • Conduct a review of existing processes, technologies, and ways of working
  • Distil the information and analyse it critically so that you are clear on the key issues and pain points

2. Define Clear Objectives

What are the goals of your legal department? And what does success look like? They could range from reducing costs to improving response times or increasing data visibility. It is important that your goals also align with your organisation’s overall strategy to ensure that the legal function is in sync with the rest of the business.

These are some steps you can take:

  • Imagine your ideal future state
  • Identify goals and objectives about how you could get to that future state
  • Consider the types of supportive technologies and skill-sets that you will need
  • Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives

Having clear objectives will guide your strategy and help you measure success.

3. Right-Sourcing

Legal departments typically have two main options for sourcing: assigning tasks within the department (in-sourcing) or outsourcing to external law firms or other providers. However, recent advancements in legal technologies have introduced a new option, referred to as tech-sourcing. This involves using technology to automate processes and speed up task completion by reducing manual administration. When tech-sourcing is combined with processes like legal intake or invoice review, it can greatly enhance efficiency and productivity by automating tasks that are repetitive and of low value.

Evaluate your work needs and determine the best combination of in-sourcing, out-sourcing, and tech-sourcing. This strategic approach to sourcing will optimise your operations and could give you a competitive edge.

4. Legal Project Management

Implement effective legal project management to optimise the entire matter lifecycle. This can incorporate aspects of people, process and technology, such as training and upskilling, using matter management software to track and monitor work, or improving intake processes. This will help you achieve a balance between financial and non-financial objectives and increase agility and flexibility in your operations.

5. Focus on Value Delivery

Shift the perception of the legal department from a cost centre to a value driver. Demonstrate the department’s contribution to the organisation through effective management of legal matters and strategic advice. To do this, data must be utilised.

These are some steps you can take:

  • Use data analysis to identify trends and inform strategic advice, helping to proactively address legal issues
  • Create key performance indicators to measure and demonstrate the department’s impact on the organisation
  • Work closely with other departments to understand their legal needs and offer customised solutions
  • Leverage technology to automate the capture and collation of data
  • Deeply consider the types of reports and analytics that would help inform your progress and demonstrate success to the business

6. Manage Legal Risks

Identify potential legal risks to the organisation and develop a plan to manage them effectively. This could involve creating new policies, providing training to staff, or implementing compliance programs.

These are some steps you can take:

  • Embed routine horizon scanning activities to identify potential legal, regulatory, and compliance risks before they become critical
  • Look internally and externally
  • Involve your team, business and law firms
  • Scenario planning is a great technique to use if you’re unsure of what might eventuate

7. Continuous Improvement

The legal landscape is constantly evolving. Your strategy should include mechanisms for feedback, continuous learning and improvement, ensuring that your legal department remains agile and can adapt to new challenges.


Remember, developing a legal department strategy is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. By following these tips and continuously refining your approach, you can ensure that your legal department is well-positioned to support the organisation’s goals and deliver value.

For more guidance and a downloadable template to assist in developing your legal department strategy visit this related article.