How to Find Your People: Finding Your Online, Legal Ops Community
As Brightflag’s COO and the host of the In-House Outliers podcast, I regularly speak to experienced legal operations professionals. One of the common threads amongst them is that becoming part of the legal ops community helped them to both develop their careers and gain much-needed support.
But establishing and nurturing relationships with others in the field can sometimes feel daunting when you’re just starting out. And oftentimes, it’s difficult to know where to even begin. However, with a little initiative and the help of a few key resources, developing your own community and kickstarting your legal ops career is fully achievable.
Why Community is Important in Legal Ops
Though the tasks now associated with legal operations previously fell to in-house legal teams, more and more companies have started investing in dedicated legal operations departments (or, sometimes, in hiring a single person to oversee everything that comes under the legal ops purview). But without well-established procedures for tackling this work, where do these professionals look for support?
Fortunately, there are plenty of places to find community in the legal ops field. Although finding the right fit for you might take some time, having a supportive community to turn to is worth the investment.
Where to Find Online Community Connections
LinkedIn offers a wealth of information and an easy way to communicate with others in the field. You can use LinkedIn’s powerful search to find other people who are in departments or situations like yours.
Not sure where to start? There are so many great Legal Ops people to connect with on LinkedIn. Start by giving these influencers a follow, and then keep an eye on who they interact with to find additional connections.
There are several active online communities where you can connect with other legal ops professionals. Check out these to start:
For even more options, check out UpLevel Ops’ Resources for Legal Ops Professionals.
How to Find a Remote Legal Ops Mentor
Legal Ops is an incredible community where experienced legal ops leaders are happy to give their time to talented people at an early stage in their career. A mentor can open doors for you and really help you network with other legal ops professionals to the benefit of your community and your career.
However, not all mentors are the right match. When you’re looking for the right mentor, here are some characteristics you might want to consider:
- Enthusiastic. Mentorship definitely takes energy to do well. You want to be sure that your potential mentor is enthusiastic about the legal ops field in general.
- Open-minded. Your mentor should be open to new ideas and ways of looking at things. At its best, a mentor-mentee relationship is one where both members benefit, and this is difficult if someone is set in their ways.
- Non-judgmental. You’re going to want the opportunity to make mistakes—they’ll be your best teacher. Make sure your mentor is someone who will support you and allow you to make your own mistakes.
- Knowledgeable. Yes, this is an important characteristic, but it’s not the most important. Even someone who is fairly new to the profession can serve as a great mentor if they meet the other characteristics.
Although finding a potential mentor is challenging, asking them to mentor you can be even scarier. Don’t let it dissuade you, though. Set up a time to meet with your potential mentor and ask them outright if they’d be willing to mentor you.
In my experience mentoring can take many forms, it doesn’t need to be overly formal or structured with eg a standing monthly meeting, developing a relationship with a person or people a few steps further along their career journey who you can reach out to bounce an idea off or get career advice is invaluable.
In-House Outliers Podcast
Brightflag’s podcast, In-House Outliers is a great place to start to learn who’s who in legal ops and discover the path other professionals have taken to get where they are. Check it out, give the guests a follow on LinkedIn, and start building your own community today!
Remember: the resources listed here are just a foundation from which you can begin building your network. In truth, the legal operations industry is comprised of more incredible people than we could possibly list.
As you continue to immerse yourself in the field, you will discover more of the amazing figures that make legal ops such an exciting space—and build your own community around them.