Special report

Legal Department Operations (LDO) Index 2021 (Sixth Edition): The risk of being left behind

New or continuing developments in spending, technology usage, and department management

Legal Operations sophistication increasingly a differentiator

Thomson Reuters Legal Tracker has surveyed legal operations professionals for six years and this year found new and continuing developments in the three central areas of law department operations: spending, technology usage, and department management. Sophistication, particularly in spend management, continues to increase and in some areas the more sophisticated or larger organizations are able to deliver cost efficiencies out of reach to other departments.

The new report, Legal Department Operations (LDO) Index 2021, published by the Thomson Reuters Institute, examines the changing landscape in the corporate legal field. The data for this report includes real-world legal spend analytics from Thomson Reuters Legal Tracker, with historical data including more than 1,500 corporate legal departments, and a June 2021 Thomson Reuters survey to which 100 legal departments responded.

Corporate attorneys and legal operations professionals reported on their spend management plans and sophistication, department priorities and maturity of their legal operations, and their staffing and diversity plans. The report also provides a listing of the most commonly used metrics for law department operations and best practices used by leading organizations.

Selected insights from the 2021 LDO Index:

  • 82% of legal departments now identify their spend management sophistication as proactive, optimized, or predictive
  • 52% of legal departments increased their use of legal technology in the past year
  • 9 technologies (up from 6 in 2018) are used by more than half of departments surveyed
  • 58% of departments are collecting diversity information from outside firms
  • Large companies drove significant decreases in timekeeper rates at the same time law firms overall generally increased rates

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