By implementing legal department software to automate low-complexity work, in-house lawyers can free up more time to focus on high-complexity and high-value tasks. In order to get there, in-house lawyers need to start by examining the processes in place. According to the report, “Demonstrating value: legal technology and your in-house legal department” by Wolters Kluwer and The Lawyer, more than two-thirds of legal departments in the U.K. plan to increase efficiency in structuring processes over the next three years.
This includes 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. In this article we’ll take a look at why structuring processes is such an important step to make when implementing legal software.
Why structuring legal department processes is important
When implementing legal department software it’s tempting to start contacting vendors right away. However, it’s important to take a look at the processes in place first because it will help you determine what you need and why. Maurits Annegarn, Segment Manager Legal Software at Wolters Kluwer says: “If you don’t have the ability to track and enforce your processes, structures and policies, you run the risk of signing inadequate contracts. You want these to be digitised and automated, so that issues can be flagged and the relevant personnel can be brought in to advise.”
Start by examining existing processes
Instead of coming up with new processes to put into place, examine the current processes throughout the legal department. What challenges do you want to address? What processes can become more efficient? Take a look at the high-priority, persistent challenges, such as spending too much time on administration, limited visibility over work in progress, or missed contract renewal deadlines. It may be tempting to automate all legal department processes at once, but this approach is likely to fail given the enormous change required. Once you’ve prioritised the processes you would like to automate you can then build on the initial success. For more information on how to define which processes should be automated, check out our digital strategy whitepaper.
Map your processes before implementing legal department software
Now that you know what processes you want to automate, you want to map out the process step-by-step, and indicate the stakeholders involved. During this stage it’s also important to include any metrics you want to track. For example, if you want to shorten the contract approval process by implementing a paperless workflow, you’ll need to know how long it currently takes to get a contract signed and who needs to sign. Keep in mind that colleagues across the business may need to be involved. Since the legal department frequently collaborates with other departments you should consider that legal department software will likely be used by other departments in the organisation.
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.