This post is part of our series on some of the informative sessions at this year’s CLOC Global Institute.
The session Bold Visions for the Future Legal Department was a discussion about the areas where legal departments have the greatest opportunities to make improvements that will serve them well over time. Legal teams that build on these areas are likely to be better positioned for future success than those that don’t focus on developing these areas. The presentation covered three key subjects:
- Diversity and inclusion
- Legal outsourcing
Darth Vaughn, litigation counsel and legal innovation & tech ops lead at Ford Motor Company, shared his disappointment and frustration about the slow progress currently being made on diversity in the legal industry. At the rate of progress we see today, he believes it will take another 30 to 50 years to get proper parity. This is why it is important for legal departments to sharpen their focus on diversity and inclusion and take steps to speed up the pace of improvement.
Vaughn expressed hope that companies will become more willing to take the necessary steps to improve diversity. For example, he feels it would be a positive sign if at least one company chose not to renew its business with a major outside counsel firm that has failed to meet diversity standards. In addition, Vaughn called for:
- Industry standards that incentivize diversity and encourage more drastic change
- More intention by legal organizations to improve diversity through focused DEI programs
Artificial intelligence is just one component of a broader technology ecosystem that is reshaping legal operations but a very important component in the current moment. Julian Tsisin, who is Meta’s director of global legal and compliance technology, believes that AI advancement will bring significant changes to several areas within the legal field, including compliance, where AI can analyze vast amounts of data and streamline compliance.
Tsisin made clear that AI technology will enhance legal work, not take it away from today’s legal professionals. Technology – even AI – cannot be effective on its own and can only yield value within processes that include input from human experts. AI can enhance legal work, but people and the expertise they bring are crucial to successful results.
Ideally, if AI technology continues to develop and be applied within legal ops solutions, and if legal organizations utilize the advancements, future legal departments can expect:
- Improved efficiency and productivity
- The capacity to take on more work without adding resources
- Better work quality
- An easier path to attract and retain talent
Outsourcing is an important part of the discussion on the future of the legal department because it can represent a strategic approach to minimizing costs, gaining specialized expertise, and letting the internal organization focus more on core competencies. Andy Krebs, senior director and head of legal operations at Twilio, spoke to the ways outsourcing can have a positive impact on future legal departments.
When some of the work of advancing legal matters is routed to external services that specialize in a particular area, it is often completed in a more efficient and cost-effective way. In addition, these services often have access to a wider talent pool with specialized expertise that goes beyond that of the in-house team, which generally has a broader knowledge base. Because they are focused on a single type of work, external specialists frequently have established processes and technology in place to execute their work more efficiently than corporate legal teams can. Krebs mentioned that the best use of outsourcing is for targeted work to meet specific needs or goals of the organization.
To reach the very reasonable goals envisioned by these speakers, legal departments need to embrace the tools that are now available to help them improve diversity, intelligently leverage cutting-edge technology, and increase efficiency. Stagnation will not be helpful to the legal function, but with the right processes and solutions, the future of the legal function looks very bright.
To learn how Wolters Kluwer ELM Solutions can help your corporate legal department be ready for the future, read about our solutions.