As corporate legal teams continue to evolve, covering everything from risk management to transactional work, a new field has risen to help in-house counsel operate effectively. Corporate legal operations (CLO) professionals are quickly becoming a vital piece of both large and medium-sized legal departments, led by people with a title reminiscent of The West Wing:
Legal Chief of Staff.
The legal chief of staff aids senior leadership within the General Counsel’s office with compliance, ethics, communication, and strategy. They often spearhead initiatives to make legal operations more efficient; introducing tools and processes like contract management systems to help the GC’s office add even more value to the business. Their role is similar to a CEO’s chief of staff – make the team and the organization more effective.
Some legal chiefs of staff are attorneys, but they don’t necessarily have to be. More importantly, chiefs of staff are organized, people-oriented, and excellent communicators. Someone good at driving change, even if people around them resist, make formidable legal chiefs of staff. An understanding of the practice of law certainly helps, making this position a viable goal for law school grads looking to forge a different path.
In many legal departments, the legal chief of staff is an agent of change – especially when it comes to technology. Learning how workflow technologies, e-billing and subsidiary management programs work (as well as how to implement them) can provide a leg up in entering this field. Staying up-to-date on new resources is essential to success as a legal chief of staff.
Most importantly, this role requires innovation, creativity, and flexibility. And as the profession continues to develop, those who show energy and passion will stand out!