The 2021 State of the Industry was released by CLOC. As an operations guy, this allowed me to validate several of the themes I’ve heard over the last 12 months in discussing goals and priorities with legal operations professionals across the globe.
The top-ranked priority for legal operations teams in 2021 is Implementing a Diversity and Inclusion Program, with 61% indicating this is a high priority and 88% responding that it is either a high or medium priority. In addition to Implementing a Diversity and Inclusion Program, Automating Legal Processes and Implementing New Technology Solutions rounded out the top 3 – both having more than 50% of respondents indicating these are high priority initiatives.
These initiatives complemented the responses to Law Firm Evaluations, where 74% of respondents indicated they either implemented (27%) or want to implement (47%) formal review processes.
As my colleagues and I meet with our customers, we are constantly asked how to leverage technology to automate and use data to drive some of these initiatives – including diversity and inclusion programs. Just this past year, we helped Rio Tinto implement a program to automate law firm evaluations with an eye towards diversity and inclusion. Specifically, they were quite surprised to find that, in 2020, only 30% of all external spending was attributable to female lawyers – which reduced even further at the partner level – 24%. By implementing new technology – Elevate’s Manage Outside Counsel – we were able to automate a process to improve and highlight their diversity and inclusion program. I don’t know about you, but it’s fascinating to see it all come together in real-life examples!
Implementing a Diversity and Inclusion program was the top-ranked issue in the list of priorities for 2021, with 6 in 10 respondents identifying it as a high priority. It ranked fifth in 2020 among the seven available options.