Legal Technologies That May Revolutionize In-House Counseling 2021
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Legal Technologies That May Revolutionize In-House Counseling.
Legal Technologies that may revolutionize In-House Counseling / Adv. Edo Bar-Gil
Over the past several years, unprecedented disruptions have been dramatically changing the face of the legal sector and specifically, in-house legal departments.
The reality of corporate legal today is the pressure to do more with less.
Any attorney who has ever worked in a corporate legal department knows this to be true. The title “in-house counsel” takes on a new meaning of late. The in-house legal counsel no longer needs to be solely focused on the law, but rather the focus is also on other non-legal tasks and on making sure that all these tasks are done, whilst simultaneously improving the legal processes and making the service more productive and cost-efficient.
Legal technologies tools, which are improving on an ongoing basis and increasingly being used, provide the legal departments the ability to scale up and provide better legal services in a better way for the organization.
Here is a glance of four elements that may change the in-house counseling day to day life:
Currently, thousands of legal matters are being managed by the legal department in a manual way (whether by using Excel or Word tables, in most cases). This data management method is problematic, to put it mildly, and is subject to human errors – it is not a question of if, but rather a question of when.
Using the right legal technologies will enable the in-house counsel to maintain accurate data base and eliminate / reduce risks for human errors, among others, by the following:
- Automating matters in a way that reduces / removes human error(s) from matter management workflows.
- Creating a central, searchable and “smart” repository – “a single source of truth” – so the entire organization has access to the most current documents and data.
- Increasing visibility and transparency, so the management team can have insight into the status and efficiency of every matter in the department.
- Improving efficiency and reducing legal spend, by allocating the necessary resources, planning ahead and “eliminating” workloads.
Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM).
An in-house counsel deals with various agreement and engagements, including with vendors, clients, partners and different subsidiaries.
Implementing the right legal technologies can provide a big range of improvements:
- One source of truth – a centric data base for the entire company.
- A smart and searchable data base, that enables the users (based on permissions) to easily find any necessary data.
- Tracking the entire life cycle of contracts from initiation till signature, including meaningful milestones.
- Creating data base of templates and clauses, so contracts can be executed with greater ease and efficiency.
- Enforcing compliance through automatic, standardized processes helping to reduce human error and risk.
- Support version control of contracts, eliminating potential confusion and human errors.
- Making the negotiation and approval processes efficient and structured, by automating them, including all relevant referents in the process and reminding participants of action items and assignments.
- Executing contracts faster, by using e-signature.
- Creating visibility and transparency to all stakeholders. Accelerating processes by removing manual labor and delay by automating repetitive tasks.
- Eliminating / Reducing human errors.
- Ensuring best practices are followed by making processes standardized and repeatable.
- Driving more effective and timely collaboration among participants, even including outside counsel and other members of the legal ecosystem.
- Extending legal best practices across the entire organization.
- Improving the cooperation between the different departments and stakeholders.
E-Billing and Spend Management.
Working with outside counsel(s) assists the in-house counsel in the different assignments and day to day work. However, it also raises new needs and issues, such as signing engagements letter(s), keeping materials confidential, controlling the costs, monitoring the workload and assignments and making sure the day to day work is efficient.
Needless to say, that technology can assist in managing such new needs, among others, by:
- Enforcing billing guidelines automatically, including discounts and payments.
- Automating audit trails for all bills modifications.
- Forecasting and tracking of budgets and legal spend.
- Streamlining invoice processing and approval, which improves the review process and the working relationship between the parties.
- Reporting and analytics on the legal spend
- Managing the legal department as a business unit.
Reporting & Analytics.
The ability to access an organization’s data in an easy and intuitive way has become increasingly important, since better visualization of that data not only make the day to day work more efficient, but also allows to plan ahead, create actionable insights and minimize risks based on analytics.
- Improving the organization’s efficiencies, by optimizing processes and outcomes of the legal department, which is a junction of both legal and non-legal process and decisions.
- Optimizing outside counsel selection based on costs and outcomes, so the right resource is assigned to the right matter.
- Optimizing the legal spend and creating accurate legal budgets
- Aligning with the organization’s goals and needs, as all stakeholders are included in the processes and approvals.
- Positioning the legal department at the heart of the business, as it provides valuable data analytics to all other departments.
- Generating a data-based decision-making center for the entire organization.
- Reducing / Minimizing risks, by making data driven decisions.
To sum it up, legal departments and their managers can determine if and how they choose to embrace new legal technologies and operational efficiencies. However, in order to stay “relevant” and successful, continuing to “operate” in the same way is simply not an option in today’s legal-business climate.
Accordingly, legal departments and their managers need to start forming a strategy today for how to get to the future, whether by using internal legal operations expert or by outsourcing this role.
About the Author: Adv. Edo Bar-Gil.
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