As discussed in Part One of this series, if you’re considering investing in legal technology, it is crucial that you first undertake a diagnosis exercise. This exercise will help you better to understand the challenges that both your legal and commercial teams face.
Then, you can begin to select the technology you need, based on the problems identified during the diagnosis exercise. In this article, we will explore how technology can help your teams focus on both core and secondary tasks to improve overall profitability.
Tools to Assist Focussing on Core Business Activities
Once you have identified which issues you need to solve, you need to consider how to solve them. The list below outlines some tools that will assist your in-house legal team to focus on the legal activities that align with your business’ core objectives.
If one of the issues that frustrate your legal team concerns collaboration, you may want to implement document management software. This software can enable you to store, manage and track electronic documents. The main advantage of a document management system (such as LEAP) is that it allows you to keep track of the changes made to a document through version control.
Also, as multiple lawyers are likely drafting documents, it is critical to have a system that ensures consistency in style and layout. Using technology to organise your existing contracts into a clause library means that you do not have to draft every document from scratch.
If your legal team experiences a lack of direction on projects, you may want to implement software that will assist with workflow management.
A matter management system enables you to keep all the information that is relevant to a matter in one place. This will help the team keep track of who is working on what. Also, it will facilitate handovers or on-boarding of new members on a matter. Where different levels of access are needed on a confidential matter, a matter management system allows you to grant this access.
Allocation of Resources
Sometimes, there can be gaps between the amount of time your team spends on a task and the value it brings to the business. To combat this, you can implement tools that will assist you to more efficiently allocate resources.
In-house team members will be assisting the business on a variety of legal matters on a daily basis. However, until they have a complete set of information, lawyers have no way of knowing how urgent or complex the matter is. This means they might not prioritise the right matter, which ultimately affects the business. Similar to an IT ticketing system, some technologies offer a streamlined intake system and can enable lawyers to take requests based on the area of expertise required.
If time management is an issue in your legal team, time tracking could be a way to bring some clarity.
No one likes six-minute intervals, but it is crucial for a business to understand what their lawyers are working on. There are tools like Daily that enable time recording without having individuals typing in their specific tasks. Instead, this software regularly asks them what they are doing and generates a timesheet based on the information provided. It is with this data that a time management problem can be identified and resolved.
Your in-house team will likely need to research some legal matters. If your legal team does not have access to the appropriate resources to deliver their services, you should consider implementing knowledge management systems. Although companies like LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters have existed for a while now, their subscription scale has now improved so that membership is more accessible for in-house teams.
Tools to Assist With Secondary Activities
As highlighted in Part One of this series, spreading legal expertise across the business will enable you to reach legal outcomes faster. This is because business managers will not have to wait for legal to sign-off on simple issues. Below, we list how your commercial team can assist in secondary legal activities with the assistance of technology.
Access to Repeated Expertise
Generally, commercial teams do not have access to legal databases and, instead, keep asking your legal team for advice.
In this case, expert systems can be beneficial. These systems can replicate the thinking of human experts in a particular field (in this case, lawyers). Your in-house legal team will first need to build a process and then digitise it into an expert system. This system will adopt the same approaches to address any problems raised by the commercial team that the human lawyers would take.
Speed of Response
Some commercial teams continuously need to get legal sign-off on standard documents or recommendations. To solve this, you can implement technology that will help the commercial team operate without relying on the legal team.
One of these technologies is document automation. In most businesses, lawyers are systematically involved when it comes to producing simple legal documents. However, if that document is instead based on a template with different variables already built in, there is no need for lawyers need to get involved. Document automation software can generate contracts and documents from automated templates. This will reduce the risks inherent in manual drafting.
E-signatures, which are only going to become more common, can also be extremely helpful by transforming your document execution processes. Electronic-signing software like DocuSign makes this simple. If you set out which agreements can be signed electronically, your commercial team can execute documents more efficiently.
Workflow management solutions can assist if your commercial team wants to:
- quickly navigate approval workflows;
- understand where their matter is at; or
- know who they should follow up with.
Your business may want to implement collaboration platforms which enable you to coordinate workflow. This platform can be particularly helpful where you have multiple departments involved at different stages of a project. It will help coordinate business processes, such as document review, by tracking the individual tasks involved.
After contracts have been negotiated and approved, it is essential for the business to:
- manage them;
- monitor them; and
- maintain them.
Weeks of negotiations can be wasted when contracts find their way into a bottom drawer. Using a contract management system to manage the contract needs of your sales teams will ensure that profit is not lost due to inefficiencies.
How Technology Can Enable Business Solutions
Technology alone will not transform the law. Technology can only help solve your business’ problems if it comes alongside change management and process improvement.
If the nature of your business does not allow you to go through a robust process improvement exercise, you can instead work legal design experts. These experts can assist with working the way through challenges and redesigning processes.
Technology has the potential to transform the way legal teams interact with their business. But, it requires in-house teams to adapt their processes and share their knowledge with the broader business. This is an excellent opportunity for legal teams to demonstrate that they contribute to strategic objectives. It shows that the law is not only about risk mitigation, but also revenue generation.
There are many different types of technology available which can assist in-house teams in becoming more efficient and increasing profitability across the business as a whole. Regardless of the strategy you choose, technology is not a silver bullet. Effectively introducing technology will require legal process design to work effectively within your workflow. If you have any questions about implementing legal technology in your in-house team, contact LegalVision’s legal transformation lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.
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