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The best keys to scaling the legal operations of a scaleup

Legal operations are sometimes considered an enemy for any scaleup that is growing its business. Formalities, paperwork, contracts, operations, closures... In short, processes that seem alien to the speed and agility of a scaleup. But, in reality, all of them are very necessary for its correct growth. Scaling up legal operations may seem like a complicated task, but in this article, we will convince you that it is not so complicated if you have the right tools. Read on to discover how an effective legal department can help your business grow at the pace you want it to, facing the challenges of your scaleup and overcoming them one after the other.

Lawyer presents a project to her teammates. Bigle Legal CLM article on legal operations for scaleups.

But first and foremost,

What is a scaleup?

A scaleup is a company that has an annual growth of at least 20% in the last 3 years, in number of employees or in turnover. It is a scalable, innovative business model oriented towards international expansion. It is the next step of a startup, which is a newly created company that seeks to validate its value proposition in the market.

How to create legal operations that help solve problems in a scalable way?

  • Alignment with other areas. The legal area needs to establish clear collaboration processes and seek strategic allies in other departments. It must ensure that all legal operations are understood by all the actors involved and establish clear roles in the processes. Technology has made this process easier.
  • Work structure: defining objectives. What cannot be measured cannot be improved and Legal must be accountable for what it contributes to the growth of the business and how it is improving its internal efficiency. In order to do so, it is essential that it sets appropriate objectives and accurately measures their achievement in a strategy.
  • Accessible and understandable legal documents. Legal documents surround the day-to-day running of the business and everyone in every department comes into contact with them at some point in their work. Legal must ensure that these documents are understandable and accessible, something that will help to maximise collaboration with other departments and reach agreements more quickly.
  • Provide appropriate legal training. The legal area needs to provide training sessions to the different teams working on the legal operations of the company. This is an ongoing task and requires the involvement of the scaleup's management teams. Adopting a system or knowing Legal's needs can be complicated and lead to confusion and ambiguity. For this reason, it is necessary to provide a manual of processes to be followed to clarify doubts and avoid confusion, including a working methodology that helps to know how to proceed quickly in certain cases.
  • Sharing responsibility for documents. There are times when it seems that the legal team is solely responsible for documents from start to finish. But in collaborative work with other areas such as sales, these documents have a shared responsibility and should be treated as such. Legal documents require the work of Legal, but also of other areas.
  • Automate documents and processes. Digitisation is an ally in this process and implementing tools that contribute to the automation of contracts and processes is key: The legal technology space is thriving and there is no longer a shortage of technology to evaluate, test and review.

Legal should ensure that these documents are understandable and accessible, which will help to maximise collaboration with other departments and reach agreements more quickly.

Scaling up the legal department in the face of internationalisation

If a scaleup starts to grow fleetingly, processes that are not robust will quickly break down. But how do you create a mindset that leads to scalable and frictionless legal operations?

  • Knowledge of local regulations: labour, tax, intellectual property and data protection laws, etc.
  • Collaboration with local experts on the specific legal aspects of each jurisdiction, facilitating the adaptation of the scaleup.
  • Efficient contract management: this is facilitated by the use of contract management technologies.
  • Risk assessment and mitigation: identify country-specific legal risks, such as import and export regulations, trade barriers...
  • Establishing global compliance policies: establish global policies and procedures that address key regulations in each jurisdiction.
  • Creating a privacy compliance programme: if it has clear and effective standards, it will make decisions faster and more effective.
  • Hiring a global compliance officer is a good way to coordinate such initiatives.

Legal operations, allies of the business

Legal operations are a key element for a structured and agile growth in any scaleup and for this reason, they should be given the attention they deserve and grow along with the business. Far from being considered as a threat to growth, they should be treated as what they are: allies of the business, enabling it to move into new horizons.

Bigle Legal scaleups ebook coverDownload our ebook "Legal operations for scaleups" if you want to learn how to scale the legal operations of your scaleup or company and face the following challenges:

  • Strategically build a legal team. 
  • Mastering the company's hiring process. 
  • Train commercial colleagues and even prepare for financing rounds.