According to the Demonstrating value: legal technology and your in-house legal department report by Wolters Kluwer and The Lawyer, legal departments are planning improvements across the organisation and its processes to drive efficiency and value. The top three improvements over the next three years for legal departments across the U.K. are: collecting, organising and retrieving information (58%), managing documents and contracts (54%) and structuring processes (54%).
In this article, we’ll take a look at the significance behind each of these improvements and how legal departments can use these improvements to drive efficiency.
Collecting, organising and retrieving information to maintain business continuity
During the pandemic legal departments have recognised the benefit of having access to important information, even when working from home. This was a topic of discussion during our roundtable, where participants agreed that technology that allows them to continue business-as-usual activities has become essential to supporting the legal department during the pandemic. Maurits Annegarn, Segment Manager Legal Software at Wolters Kluwer commented, “In this past year, we’ve clearly seen how the pandemic has accelerated the shift to a more digital mindset amongst legal professionals. There’s been a rapid acceptance of new ways of working. Technology has been a key enabler of remote work, collaboration and in some cases maintaining business continuity.”
Managing contracts, contract drafting and redlining to boost efficiency
Contracts are at the core of legal work, so it makes sense that legal departments will only continue to improve the way they manage contracts and contract drafting and redlining. Imagine a group of colleagues editing a contract, and each person accepting and rejecting changes or adding comments – things can get messy quickly! With a contract collaboration tool, you can invite stakeholders to access a contract, make changes, add comments in the text and decide whether to accept or reject suggested edits from others and obtain a comparative summary of the versions.
The pandemic has made contract tools vital to maintaining business continuity. For example, it can take days, or even weeks, for a legal department to get a contract signed when it relies on paper-based processes, even when everybody worked in the same office. An e-signature tool for contract approval can accelerate the process, so documents are signed in a matter of minutes and barriers to doing business no longer exist.
Structuring processes to identify bottlenecks
Structuring processes is usually a precursor to implementing technology. Ideally, legal departments should have the right people and processes in place before they acquire technology. Structuring processes involves identifying what processes are in place, what process the legal department is responsible for (especially those which are carried out on a regular basis), and determining how much time is spent on them. Thus determining which would benefit from being automated. While it’s tempting to want technology to streamline all of your processes, technology should be used to solve high-priority, persistent issues instead of 100 per cent of issues in any given area.
For more insights from the report, including how technology is used in legal departments today and challenges when introducing legal tech, download the report, Demonstrating value: legal technology and your in-house legal department. The report is based on a survey of over 130 general counsel and heads of legal across the U.K. and looks at how legal technology can improve efficiency within the modern in-house legal department.
Download the report here