9 capabilities to consider when evaluating Legal Technology.
When considering how Legal Technology can help transform your organisation, it’s important to start with where you identify the greatest pain (vs. what the technology can do) and work from there. Start by working through a set of desired capabilities (see below) – the areas that require/have the greatest opportunity for improvement – and prioritise the capabilities based on the needs of your organisation and potential ROI.
1) Better manage inbound requests from the business (automated advice, triage)
We need to provide the business a one-stop shop for accessing legal support with the ability to provide automated advice (e.g., checklist of information to gather before engaging legal) and automated triage/matter creation to the right lawyer based on matter/contract type whilst giving the business visibility into the status of their matter/contract without having to (repeatedly) contact legal.
2) Provide the business with the ability to Self-Serve Contract creation and execution
We need to allow the business to create and execute (via digital signature) their own contracts by automating our templates:
- We want simple template population for standard, rarely negotiated contracts
- We want complex document automation that can build many (a few to hundreds) different versions of an agreement with intelligent workflows that automatically triage higher risk agreements to the appropriate lawyer for review
3) Improve handling of third-party paper
We need a way to better manage counter-party contract review and negotiation that allows us to quickly compare third-party contracts against our standards and negotiate, manage and track them as if they were our own.
4) Matter Management tools to improve lawyer productivity
We need a way to manage our legal work across contracts and legal issues including tracking and reporting on types, volumes, timelines and status of legal work across the business, quick location of historical or active issues and tracking of all internal and external communications and documents associated with an issue.
5) Automated Contract and delegation workflows and approvals
We need a way to (manually and/or automatically) route and obtain approvals and signatures within legal and from the business with an audit trail to allow for faster, on-line approvals, execution and improved governance and thus creating a more efficient contract management system.
6) Negotiation Support
We need a platform that allows us to collaborate on documents and automatically track versions with both internal and external parties with a full history/audit trail and automated document comparison.
7) Contract Lifecycle Management
We need fully searchable storage and tracking of all contracts (automated, lawyer drafted, counterparty), and associated meta-data (e.g., contract value, contract type, counterparty, dates), versions, approvals, timelines and supporting documentation with automated alerts for key milestones e.g., end dates).
8) Reporting and Analytics
We need to be able to report on all aspects of legal, matters, contracts and transactions;
- What are our lawyers spending their time on? Are these the right things? How can we empower the business to work faster without Legal support? How can we reallocate lawyer time to bigger risks?
- What are the average turn-around times from Legal and with approvers in the business? Where are things getting stuck? Are there clauses, processes, delegations of authority limits slowing down the business unnecessarily?
- What’s the volume of various kinds of legal work/issues? What should we be automating?
- Which contracts contain language that will be affected by an upcoming regulatory change? an acquisition? What active contracts do we have with supplier x? Which contracts are expiring in the next 3 months?
9) Knowledge Management
We need a central repository to store policies, precedents, templates, delegations of authority, guides, etc.
So, what next?
Once prioritised, break the capabilities into phases and build a roadmap, an investment plan and a business case for the adoption of legal technology across the business. That roadmap may end with two use cases, but often this is a multi-year plan to gradually rollout legal technology and automation, building on realised business cases and success. Transformation is a journey, after all.
If you need just one use case and don’t see yourself needing to tackle others down the road, buying a one-off tool (e.g., matter management system, document storage system, digital signature, etc) could be an option, but there’s the potential for long term pain with this approach. However, if you need more than one use case, find a platform with a robust roadmap that allows you to start small and grow such that you can tackle all your use cases and challenges in the future.
If you need any help with any of this, we do a Discovery Workshop as part of our process to determine if Plexus Gateway is well suited to our customers, so please don’t struggle here, reach out!