How can General Counsels thrive through full use of new technologies?
As most in-house lawyers and big law firms already know, the use of new technologies in the legal market is fundamental in running an efficient business. Their use avoids wasting money and also helps provide higher quality services on a lower budget.
To implement this, some large organisations have adopted two tightly linked main strategies:
- investing in technologies;
- adopting more internal staff to handle a higher in-house workload.
However, despite the investment in new technologies, only few General Counsels have a deep knowledge of IT to the point where it is one of their primary foci. It is vital to handle the management of technologies in day-to-day activities, making them not just a secondary and merely supportive function, but of primary importance, tightly aligned with all the legal aspects of the company.
Where major competency and computer literacy is required of the General Counsels and respective management team, it also true that they should not be expected to be developing technologies themselves. In fact, thanks to online blog and forum culture, small issues around skills and computing knowledge could be solved easily. The next step must be increasing the number of General Counsel or Legal Director fully exploiting the software and tools’ capabilities in their daily activities, instead of just following the path of “trendy innovations”.
Despite methodological problems to using legal technologies, it is generally agreed that the new technologies are the future in improving the following essential tasks:
1) Sharing knowledge, creating an environment where all the employees can learn and share their tacit knowledge inside the company. To make this effective despite geographical location, special software such as document and content management systems are required in order to store, search, centralise and keep safe global information.
2) Achieving efficiency through the exploitation of particularly tools, such as:
- matter management systems that enable lawyers to address complex and huge quantities of pertinent data for particular units of work or projects – called a ‘matter’. Lawyers are able to have quick access to specific data, avoiding the risk of redundancy in work and minimising time spent in search of important information;
- enterprise contract life cycle management systems that enable General Counsels to manage the global contracting process of a company thanks to features and functions that support the creation, storage, workflow, notifications, searches and reporting of contracts across their entire life-cycle.
3) Controlling costs through special e-billing software used to monitor, analyse and manage legal spending effectively.
4) Mitigating risk of a company and preventing legal suits through e-discovery systems in the litigation process.
5) Measuring performance using analytics that create data (i.e., invoice information) to aggregate financial, operational and performance information, to spot trends, optimise resources and help with business decisions.
6) Promoting the value of the legal department on the executive board and to the clients by doing more spending less.
These are The Corporate Legal Innovators 2016 we are organising in partnership with South Bank University aims to discuss some of these new challenges that General Counsels have to face if they want to improve their business performance. We will discuss gaining a better understanding of the tech solutions that will improve the process and output of in-house legal teams. Innovative legal tech companies will be present to explain these new solutions. To find out more about our event, click here.
Andrea Di Ceglie, Business Development Executive, Corporate Legal Innovators 2016