What a whirlwind of a year it has been.
Leaders in the legal industry (lawyers, partners, IT analysts, judges) face many competing demands for their attention. At the same time as they are providing crucial legal, advisory and compliance support to business colleagues, they are also tasked with overseeing substantial innovation and development within their own functional team.
The Covid-19 pandemic has intensified the pressure to change, making the future both uncertain and exciting.
It’s no secret that the legal industry is rapidly transforming and today, law firms and legal departments from all over the world are feeling the pressure to respond.
Thus, to successfully navigate the months and years ahead, leaders of in-house legal functions need to become agents of change taking control of the innovation agenda and set the pace and objectives for change that will work for their priorities and desired outcomes.
Technology and smart data analytics have the potential to revolutionize the way legal functions operate, but only if the right technologies are deployed for the right legal tasks.
As in-house legal functions move towards innovation maturity, leaders worldwide should increase the proportion of their budget invested in technology.
The most successful legal functions will be those that embed technology in day-to-day legal workflows. This will enhance connectivity and collaboration between the in-house legal function, its internal stakeholders, and external legal suppliers, which in turn will reduce cost inefficiencies and cut turnaround times.
Research has shown that fewer than 30% of law firms say they have a dedicated technology manager within their legal function. Only 35% have a detailed technology roadmap in place to describe the future technology investments and priorities for the legal function with detailed time horizons for future adoption.
Technology investment within the legal function needs to address a clear, strategic purpose. Those in-house leaders furthest ahead on the technology implementation journey tell us they are prioritizing technologies that deliver faster turnaround times for routine legal workflows, improve self-service capabilities for colleagues outside of the legal function, and enhanced data management capabilities.
With greater management and insight into their organization’s legal and commercial data, they are looking to provide more accurate and valuable commercial intelligence back into the business.
Leading law firm, Allen & Overy says that regardless of your starting point, here are three ideas to help your legal function move to its next stage of legal technology maturity
Do you understand what legal and business problems you are trying to solve through greater investment in technology?
Start with the problem, then look for the technology. Before committing to significant external spend, audit what technologies are being used elsewhere in your organization and how they might be repurposed at little cost for the legal function.
Smarter application of data captured by the legal function can support business colleagues in their commercial decision-making.
Does your function’s legal technology investment include the appropriate tools to undertake good data analysis, for example, of your organization’s contract portfolio? Do you have the right capabilities to extract, interrogate and visualize data for your internal stakeholders?
As we have seen, lack of technology mindset and skills can be a major barrier to the successful adoption of new technologies.
When plotting your legal technology roadmap do not neglect the investment of time and resource required to hire non-legal specialists (for example, technology managers, data scientists or process engineers) and to train up internal team members so they feel confident and comfortable deploying new technologies in practice.