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In an exclusive interview, Mary Shen O’Carroll, director of legal operations, technology and strategy at Google, talks to Frankie Wang about the emerging field of legal operations, trends in legal technology and the future of in-house legal teams

Asia Business Law Journal: Tell us about yourself and Google’s legal operations team.

Mary Shen O’Carroll: So, I joined Google about 12 years ago and before that I was at a law firm called Orrick, an international law firm. Our team has grown quite significantly since then. I was the very first legal operations hire. At the time, there wasn’t very much of a job description, and over time our team has grown quite a bit.

We are over 50 professionals now in legal operations as a function. We describe our mission to be focused on multiplying legal’s impact by driving innovation, operational excellence and focused execution. What that means practically and what we do – I like to think of us as operating essentially under five kinds of broad umbrellas of expertise.

The first one is programme management and that’s a broad term, but it includes things like strategic planning, process improvements. We have a bunch of ex-consultants who look at the way we do things and think about, is there a better way? And then, also project management, rolling out projects or initiatives either across the department or even sometimes across the company.

The second area of expertise we call data analytics, which is essentially business intelligence, dashboards, analytics and data management. The third pillar is education and knowledge management – that includes things like all the development training material that we do for our lawyers, certification processes, on-boarding of new hires. But it also includes the knowledge management piece, so the development of help centres, ways that we can allow our clients to self-serve, documentation of policies, play books, templates, processes.

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