Most legal professionals now agree that the application of technology and legal operational maturity are closely correlated. Various reports, including the ACC's Legal Operations Maturity Benchmarking Report, have demonstrated that legal organizations at their early stage have limited technology and tools while those at the advanced stage boast multiple approaches, methods, tools and technologies.
This study focuses on the role of technology and legal operations and explains why mature legal organizations consider automation tools, such as entity management software, a game-changer in the legal industry. Keep reading to find out the classification of target areas of legal operations, the tools applied to address those areas and how the technology transforms legal operations and legal departments from being cost-centers to valuable partners.
What Are the Target Areas and Technologies Deployed by Legal Operations
Experts use various classifications to identify target areas of legal operations. For example, the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) mentions 14 pillars of legal operations, while the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) refers to CLOC's 12 functional areas.
Meanwhile, the Deloitte report on Technology in the Legal Department narrows the number of target areas to 6 spheres, which include:
- legal entity management, covering all aspects of a business and used to organize corporate records,
- contract management for contract creation, analysis and execution,
- matter management processes, helping lawyers organize and manage legal matters,
- knowledge management systems, making knowledge verifiable and more easily searchable,
- electronic discovery, aka eDiscovery, which is the process of collecting and exchanging evidence in a legal case or investigation,
- governance, risk and compliance (GRC) framework, helping an organization to achieve its overall objectives at each level while ensuring that all legal requirements are met.
Each of these target areas requires its own solutions and is addressed by specific technologies and tools. Today, many mature legal organizations employ most of these legal technologies to provide their lawyers with the right tools and gain a competitive advantage.
Why Legal Technology is Critical for Mature Legal Operations
Legal organizations aiming to achieve operational maturity are looking toward implementing legal technology and automating legal processes. According to the CLOC Survey for 2021, 54% of respondents identified the implementation of new technology solutions as their top priority. Law firms and in-house counsel expect that new technologies and automation will help them gain a competitive advantage, boost processes, and assist in working with a larger number of clients.
Gaining Competitive Advantage
Although the legal industry traditionally lags in digital innovation, most lawyers have already recognized that legal technology provides them with a competitive advantage. It improves the quality of data, eliminates human error, and makes legal organizations more efficient.
By improving operational efficiencies through the application of technology for legal entity management, contract management, GRC and other functional areas of legal operations, lawyers can deliver more value to their clients. As it was noted by Gartner, those legal operations that apply legal technology to drive greater efficiency will be the winners.
Eliminating Non-Effective Processes and Changing Lawyers' Lives
In the legal industry, it is widely known that lawyers are overworking and spending too much time on administrative functions. Having to focus on low-value tasks makes lawyers struggle for billable hours and doesn't allow them to be more productive by concentrating on strategic or creative work.
Legal technology is designed to minimize or exclude manual and non-effective processes and tasks. For example, such technologies as modern entity management software help lawyers create a 'single source of truth' for corporate data integrated across the legal organization. Technology is literally changing lawyers' lives by improving their work/life balance, reducing chances of burnout and making legal professionals more satisfied with their jobs.
Legal Department Transformation from a Cost-Center to a Partner
Most often, legal departments are viewed as cost-centers rather than money-makers. For this reason, it is not uncommon to see the tendency to minimize the spending on legal operations, which often leads to the opposite effect.
By applying new technologies and bringing more value to their clients, lawyers can transform legal operations from cost centers to partners by proactive contribution to their clients' growth. Thus, legal entity management software can offer valuable insights into the corporate structure, helping to streamline and optimize their organizations and build more effective and productive businesses.
Tools for Secure Remote Working
Last but not least, many modern legal technologies, like entity management software, help remote legal teams and global, geographically distributed organizations reduce exposure to cyber-attacks and ensure the safety and confidentiality of their clients' data. In the post-COVID world with a focus on hybrid and remote working, legal operations need to enable accessing legal data from anywhere and on any device while ensuring the highest standards for safety and compliance.
Legal professionals who rely on old practices of working with data, such as exchanging files by email or using spreadsheets, expose their information to data leaks, cyberattacks and unauthorized access. Instead, keeping all legal information on a secure cloud and centralized platforms, like entity management software, allows effectively manage access rights and limit the exposure to cyber threats.
Criteria for Effective Legal Technology
In the world of an abundance of legal software solutions on the market, the roles of technology and legal operations are reciprocal. Legal professionals have to define the priority requirements for the technology and choose those tools which best fit those criteria.
Speaking about entity management technology, any effective legal software should be cloud-based to offer remote access, collaboration and flexibility for scaling up. Meanwhile, legal operations should be cautious in choosing their entity management software to stay compliant with global regulations for data security and privacy.
In addition to offering remote access and ensuring compliance with data security standards, an effective legal technology should meet the following criteria:
- provide for wide customization for working in multiple jurisdictions,
- include automation tools and minimize manual processes,
- exclude siloed approach and allow for maximum collaboration within the legal team,
- include all-round professional support,
- encourage engagement through a well-thought user-friendly interface,
- provide for effective access rights management.
Today, the success of legal operations is defined by the effective application of technology. Those legal professionals who are interested in increasing the efficiency of their legal operations and departments are advised to consider the benefits of legal technology and look for effective software tools. If you are interested in learning more about how technology changes the legal landscape and assists legal professionals in their work, please don't hesitate to speak to an Athennian entity management expert today.