‘Don’t Do as You’re Told’: 2 Legal Ops Luminaries Share How to Fix Problems Lawyers Don’t Know They Have

Mary O’Carroll and Jenn McCarron, two legal operations veterans, share some insights on how to level up the legal ops at your company in 2024. Last week, both came together to hold a virtual question and answer session with tips on how to get better at the job, how to get buy-in from leadership and how to prevent problems with clients before they occur.

McCarron, the new president of Corporate Legal Operations Consortium and head of technology and legal operations at Netflix, recommends that everyone learns to utilize “tactical empathy.”

“Seventy percent of the role is listening and understanding empathetically what they see through their eyes, the pain of the workflow, the problem. And when you say it back to them and then you put it to paper, you can start solution-proposing together,” McCarron said. “So if you’re listening well, you’re going to go forward in a good direction. And when they feel heard and understood, now you’ve earned their confidence.”

O’Carroll is chief community officer at Ironclad, a contract software vendor. Previously, she had worked as the director of operations, technology and strategy at Google Legal for more than a decade. She mentioned that legal ops administrators often hear from in-house attorneys that they could not understand the day-to-day struggles of the job. 

“That’s true. But if I listen, and I try to understand what the challenges are like, I can definitely be good at fixing that,” O’Carroll said. “It’s listening in the right way. It’s tactical. I used to tell my team members, ‘Don’t do as you’re told.’ So when the lawyers come to you and say, ‘I have this problem, and I need you to do this,’ I say, ‘Draw out what the actual problem is.'”

Are you interested in learning more tips about succeeding as a legal operations professional? Read more in this law.com article.

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