I am not one to make sweeping generalizations, but I think it is fair to say that legal departments can be resistant to change -- attorneys, as a group, tend to be risk averse. Change, however, is coming to a legal department near you in 2018.

The dramatic rise of the legal department operations (LDO) function over the past few years has placed a premium on changing how in-house legal teams deliver legal services, reduce spend, manage and collaborate with outside counsel, implement metrics, manage and retain knowledge, and leverage technology to work more efficiently. Even lean legal departments without a dedicated LDO professional are on notice that they need to jump on the path to operational maturity.

The rapid creation of result-driven legal operations roles over the last few years has exposed a need for collaboration between individual LDO professionals and their peers. Filling that need is the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC). The association supports pioneering LDO teams by providing a platform and opportunities to share strategies, champion change and pool knowledge. Incorporated in 2015, the organization is growing quickly. A recent meeting hosted in May of 2017 was attended by 1,000 LDO professionals.

Law.com explains the importance of CLOC and LDO initiatives in a recent article saying, “More legal departments are seizing the opportunity to implement legal operations programs to lower spend and increase efficiency. Amid this legal ops movement, one organization, the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), has emerged as both a catalyst for change and an ongoing example of the movement’s success.”

Last month, the Blickstein Group released its findings from the 10th Annual Law Department Operations Survey. Maturity is a central theme of the report, and LDO professionals are certainly taking on new challenges. The chair of the survey’s Advisory Board, David Cambria, Global Director of Operations – Law at Archer Daniels Midland Co., notes that LDO professionals are making great strides to mature and law firms are beginning to respond, but “a little more collaboration can help move us along.”

David is precisely right. Meaningful and improved collaboration with outside counsel is critical to both LDO maturity and client engagement. According to the survey, fewer than 47 percent of LDO professionals believe their law firms are leveraging technology to deliver legal services more efficiently and cost-effectively. “While the right communication and incentives are critical, technology that makes collaboration between clients and their firms easier and more intuitive also makes a huge difference in closing this ‘collaboration gap,’” says Brad Blickstein, publisher of the LDO Survey. He adds, “Without question, the intelligent use of secure cloud-based collaboration platforms for legal project management, M&A, and litigation will continue to grow in 2018 for innovative law firms and in-house legal teams.”

View the summary results for the 10th Annual Law Department Operations Survey (2017) at http://blicksteingroup.com/ldo-survey/ or check out CLOC at https://cloc.org/ for more information about how LDO can drive maturity and change in your department.