The time to consider digital transformation in the sector as optional has long passed. It is an increasingly pressing need—especially for those who lag behind—, and technology is driving advancement among businesses in the legal sector, as well as in legal departments within companies. In this interview, Eugenia Navarro confirms that effectively incorporating these new tools is “essential for efficiency and professional competitiveness.” Navarro is the instructor of the Certificate in Legal Tech in the Digital Era, an MIT Professional Education (USA) program in collaboration with Esade (Spain).
Why do you believe that legal operations specialists are such an important component of the current legal sector?
In addition to more technical legal services, process efficiency is key; and management, adequate talent, and indicators to measure delivery value help offer improved services. I believe there should be specialists, but that all lawyers should shift toward working with the legal operations methodology. Incorporating technology, for example, is essential for efficiency and professional competitiveness.
Would these specialists only work in large firms?
It’s likely for LO (legal operations) directors or managers, yes. However, I think it goes beyond that; it’s a way of working. All lawyers should incorporate the concept of legal operations into their practice, turning issues into projects. It’s a management approach to working with legal issues.
If we published a job offer for a legal operations manager, what would the job requirements include?
The candidate should, of course, understand the legal aspects of business, but they should also understand tech trends for the legal sector; have the right professional training; and be proactive, innovative, and resilient. Since they would need to lead a shift in mentality, strong leadership skills would also be a must.
What consequences would an increased need for legal operations specialists have on legal training?
I think it should be a requirement for practice because it’s the present-day reality of the profession and the natural evolution of any area within professional services.
Are there currently any programs that can prepare law professionals for this new demand within the sector?
Yes, at Esade Executive Education we’ve launched the first online program for Spain and Latin America in legal operations. Our goal with this program is to help law professionals adapt to the challenges of this new decade. It gives them a broader vision of the field and fuels curiosity, helping them grow as professionals as they improve their understanding of technology and new trends in the sector.
Why is it important for professionals to specialize in legal operations?
It gives them the resources to become better lawyers. And it’s not always necessary for them to stop practicing. In fact, it improves their practice, offering greater efficiency, a better understanding of their surroundings, and the ability to reinvent themselves as professionals as they discover the impact of technology and the need for updated training.
In addition to legal operations, several new professions have emerged within the legal sector thanks to legal tech. What others stand out?
With regards to technology and project management, we could talk about legal project management, data science, process engineering, and, of course, the entrepreneurship that arises from a desire to do things in a new way. All of this contributes to a more business-like vision of practicing law.