5 Client Service Lessons for Law Firms from The Gap’s Head of Legal Operations

JD Supra Perspectives

Mike Haven is the Head of Legal Operations at The Gap, Inc. He’s a former BigLaw partner who is reshaping the way law firms deliver services to the world’s third largest specialty retailer. In this podcast from LeftFoot (available to listen above), Haven talks about the challenges, and opportunities, for outside law firms at The Gap, and by extension at any client that is as focused on legal operations as it is on legal results. 

Five key client service takeaways for lawyers navigating this brave new world of legal ops:

1. Your client already knows you’re good

If you’re asked to pitch for a spot on The Gap’s outside counsel team, they’ve already vetted your legal skills. They know you know how to do the work, and how to do it well. You’ve passed their initial screening, so there’s not need to waste your time (and theirs) talking about how “good” you are. 

2. Your client wants innovation 

An important part of Haven’s job as head of legal operations is to assess and reinvent processes that may have been in place for many years at The Gap. Lawyers who can help him do that, who can look critically at the way things are being done and come up with creative and effective alternatives, those lawyers put him “on Cloud 9.” 

3. Sharpen your “outlier” qualities 

Whether you like it or not, Haven thinks most legal services are pretty fungible: getting the job done well is no longer enough. More to the point, if you’re not doing things that make life easier operationally, he will find someone else that does, someone who is equally competent, someone who goes the extra mile. 

4. Embrace feedback (getting and giving...)

Haven sees the relationships The Gap has with their lawyers just like any other relationship, with friends, with spouses, with others. And being open to getting – and giving – feedback on that relationship, on how it is working and how it can be improved, is a critical part of the success. But that’s only the first step: lawyers and firms have to be willing to change processes and procedures based on that feedback, too. 

5. The future is data-driven 

As might be expected, Haven is under pressure from the top at The Gap to do more with less. He sees data as key to doing that: leveraging data they now generate – from their ebilling system, for example – to identify holes in their strategic model, to understand how they’re using resources (and if they’re using them in the best way possible), to drive change in their processes. 

Listen to the complete podcast above, or by following this link.


[Lance Godard has spent three decades within the legal profession, in-house and as a consultant, helping lawyers and practice groups grow their book of business. Connect with him on LinkedIn and follow his new work on JD Supra.]

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