As the Director of Legal Operations for the world’s most geographically diversified casino-entertainment company, I see first-hand that my legal department faces many of the same challenges encountered by corporate law departments around the globe. Over the past 24 years, I have seen the demand for services increase considerably.
To meet the demand, we have implemented several strategic initiatives in recent years that change the way the department operates. One key initiative has increased departmental effectiveness and efficiency through metrics, which helps drive a data-driven operational model.
A clear set of metrics providing transparency at all levels of the department enables more well-informed decisions AND the ability to demonstrate the value to our business. We view this as essential to our operational model going forward.
Selecting Meaningful Metrics
Metrics have been a top priority for our General Counsel since he came to Caesars. His vision included developing a set of metrics so that each division of the legal department could better understand and demonstrate how they were helping the department work “smarter, faster, and cheaper.” It was crucial to have the team leaders actively involved in establishing their metrics to help gain their buy-in as well as solidify the effort as a shared priority.
When selecting those metrics, we relied on months of data research and a series of meetings with each of the department’s division leads. Our organization’s management team also spent time brainstorming onsite with the LexisNexis® Strategic Consulting Group, who were invaluable in helping us choose metrics that would truly add value to our decision-making process.
After selecting metrics for each division, we set targets for each one based on research, best practice benchmarks, and our departmental budget goals. The resulting data was interesting and useful, but it was only the first step. To make sure we hit our “smarter, faster, and cheaper” objectives, we knew we had to do more than measure. That meant we needed to establish meaningful and collaborative targets.
Interpreting the Data
So far, the most significant impact of tracking metrics has been the legal team’s shift in mindset. After reporting on metrics for a full year, the value the metrics data provides became apparent, and the collected data contributed to organizational process improvements. As my peers in the industry can attest, it requires ongoing change management to get metrics—and the resulting accountability—engrained into everyone’s routines. Done correctly, the effort may initially seem daunting; however, not long after, teams will find it is time well spent.
More recently, we have found meaningful ways to present the results of specific metric initiatives visually. Dashboards provide enhanced visibility into operational and management information and better communicate important business results. For example, one recent key initiative has been to establish a preferred provider program. We identified a set of preferred law firms and set a goal to have an established percentage of legal work performed by those law firms. We created a dashboard to clearly show how well we are meeting that goal, and we can see our progress in engaging our preferred providers at a glance. The dashboard also tracks newly opened matters not assigned to preferred providers, enabling us to address process challenges to achieve the program goals efficiently. This dashboard has been extremely valuable for transparency of initiative results, and it saves us a tremendous amount of time in reporting.
As we focus on continual improvement, we envision our metrics will continue to evolve and that dashboards will eventually be used in many areas of the department. We look forward to identifying other key initiatives that dashboards could help us manage, keeping the legal department on track with our General Counsel’s vision and demonstrating value.
Looking to the Future
To legal department teams who are just starting to develop their metrics program: don’t let the task overwhelm you. Although the commitment, data gathering, and analytic effort was a big undertaking, we have proven that developing a program that works for our department is feasible. Having a standard set of metrics has helped us to better manage the department, thereby saving time, improving processes, and reducing costs.
Even if you don’t use the CounselLink® Enterprise Legal Management solution, you shouldn’t hesitate to engage their strategic consulting team for assistance. Working with a trusted partner who really listens and understands the struggles that corporate legal departments face makes all the difference. The CounselLink team has the experience and know-how to guide corporate legal departments, helping them strategically develop a working metrics program. Asking for help from experts can get you over the real hurdle of bringing departmental stakeholders on board.
The demands faced by our legal department are certainly not unique. The metrics discussion is taking place in legal departments throughout the corporate world, and more companies are transitioning from talk to action. Don’t get left behind. It’s time for your legal department to take part in the conversation.
Roger Bissell is the Director of Legal Operations for the corporate legal department of Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has been with the Caesars legal department for 24 years. The Legal Operations division serves to inject a new “center of excellence” through the implementation and use of progressive systems and technologies, compelling strategies and goals, policies and procedures, training, communication, retaining talent, building powerful cultures, and measuring performance. Roger assists the General Counsel with the collaboration and oversight of all the areas of the law department that facilitate the business of law, and he is responsible for the oversight of the Legal Operations division. During his time at Caesars, he has been instrumental in creating policy and procedures for the company. His contributions have changed the way the legal department operates. Under his guidance, the department continues to streamline the contract process.
Roger Bissell has a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Mississippi as well as an Associate in Accounting from Gulf Coast Community College.