What’s preventing legal departments from moving forward with legal operations?

Legal operations is becoming more popular in organisations of all sizes, as legal departments have realised it may be the key to driving more efficiency. So, what’s preventing legal departments from moving forward with legal operations?  

A recent survey of more than 150 legal departments across the Netherlands and the U.K. revealed budget as the biggest challenge when it comes to implementing and improving legal operations. 36% of all legal departments reported securing budget as the top challenge. When looking at department size, 40% of small legal departments (1-10 employees) report budget as the biggest challenge, compared to 31% of large departments (21 or more employees). 31% of large legal departments also report time as a major challenge. 

This article looks at the top legal operations challenges and how to overcome them. 


It’s difficult to win stakeholder approval for new investments at a time when legal departments are dealing with serious budget constraints. Just because you cannot secure enough budget to hire a full-time Head of Legal Operations, doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the productivity revolution. Could you hire somebody on a project, or interim, basis? This person could start by assessing which steps the legal department should take to increase efficiency, and how technology can help.  

Not enough time 

When in-house teams already have a heavy workload, it can be difficult to find the time to dedicate to legal operations. In other words, if there are other high-priority issues like litigation or an audit, legal operations will move down on the priority list. If you’re not in a position to hire somebody full-time, appoint somebody in your team to be a legal operations ambassador. This person should allocate a portion of their work week to legal operations. However, if you are considering overhauling certain processes, then hiring somebody to oversee the project is the way to go. 

Lack of expertise 

A good place to start is to talk to the organisation to find out what the pain points are. Focus on high-priority, persistent issues like quicker turnaround on contracts or invoicing processes. Each change made should increase the level of efficiency. By solving one pain point at a time, you can build credibility and show stakeholders that they can have a better experience with the legal department. 

Ready to get started with legal operations?

Download the guide, “How to build a legal operations function” and discover how to set up a legal operations role and the role of technology in optimizing legal operations.