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Legal sector must embrace technology
Tom Dunlop |
April 8, 2023 |

 17,977 total views

In a fiercely competitive landscape, businesses have had to keep pace with digital advances to meet market expectations and remain relevant.

And technological advancements have made it easier and more cost-effective for organisations to adopt and benefit from a variety of digital tools and platforms, from cloud computing to AI and automation.

During my time working at high-growth tech companies, I have witnessed first-hand finance departments, marketing teams, sales and HR each embracing technology to streamline processes, improve data accuracy and analysis, and enhance customer and employee experiences.

Unfortunately, the legal department is often one of the last to be empowered through technology and innovation, and this can be a costly mistake for businesses.

In fact, by investing budget into legal transformation tools, businesses can benefit from increased efficiency, resilience and agility, better collaboration, and reduced cost.

Businesses with digitally enabled legal teams can even fast-track negotiation cycles by 50 per cent, ultimately leading to increased sales and profits.

Having previously worked as a General Counsel (GC), I’ve witnessed first-hand how in-house legal teams can be left behind, still reliant on manual processes for everyday tasks such as reviewing contracts.

By giving legal professionals the right tools and ensuring they are no longer bogged down by administrative or repetitive work, businesses reap the rewards of more high-value legal work that helps to drive the business forward.

Supercharge your business

In-house legal experts can be a powerhouse of strategic value for businesses if used and empowered in the right way.

With the same budget and investment in digital tools as their counterparts in other departments, I believe that there is significant opportunity for GCs across all industries to assume the role of legal disruptor and drive real change for the benefit of the wider business.

Boosted efficiency

Thomas Reuters’ ‘State of the UK Legal Market 2022’ found that 56 per cent of legal professionals cited improving efficiency as their top priority for the next year, a challenge which could largely be solved by removing the pressure of manual and menial tasks.

A lack of efficiency not only hinders the legal team’s ability to deliver results but can also cause frustrations within other departments who are reliant on legal to close deals and move projects forward quickly.

But legal teams could be leveraging digital tools to boost productivity and significantly reduce the number of legal bottlenecks. Take Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) systems – they allow GCs to automate routine legal processes, such as document review and contract creation.

Streamlining this process significantly reduces the administrative burden, with some CLM systems being able to speed up contract lifecycles by 37 per cent and cut contract review time by up to 85 per cent.

Given large organisations manage an average of 350 contracts each week, speeding up this process is a huge step towards overall business efficiency.

Staying agile

In the modern world, agility is paramount to business success, and adopting legal technologies can help businesses respond more quickly to macroeconomic changes, such as new regulations or legal challenges.

Being able to adapt more quickly to changing circumstances and market trends helps businesses gain a competitive advantage, creating value and driving business success.

CLM systems can also provide real-time insights into contract performance and highlight areas for improvement. Able to make data-driven decisions, legal teams can better anticipate and mitigate legal risk and provide more accurate legal advice quicker.

The legal department is no longer just about the application of law. Today, legal teams are increasingly being called upon to navigate complex regulatory frameworks and mitigate legal risk in areas such as data privacy, cybersecurity, and intellectual property.

It’s becoming clearer than ever that technology is mission-critical to many businesses and the legal department has a pivotal role to play in providing strategic legal counsel to ensure the company’s use of digital assets is legally compliant and in line with best practices.

Enhanced collaboration

Digital tools can massively reduce friction and facilitate collaboration between legal teams and colleagues across the business by enabling sales, HR, marketing to self-serve and integrate with exiting software.

By empowering sales teams to utilise tools such as Microsoft Teams, information can be efficiently passed to legal reducing the amount of time going back and forth.

Innovative legal technologies offer this functionality, bringing legal teams closer to their internal stakeholders and helping to ensure that legal considerations are integrated into all aspects of the business.

It is also important to note that technology such as CLM solutions are often cloud-based, allowing collaboration across teams and geographies.

Cutting costs

The business case for digital adoption across the legal department is strong, especially when you consider how much money can be saved and subsequently how much value can be unlocked as a result.

Imagine a legal department that is completely data-led and digitally enabled. They would have access to resources at the click of a button, automated contract generation, and seamless integration with core business systems such as Microsoft Word, Teams, Slack, and Docusign.

The statistics highlight that an estimated 9 per cent of company revenue is saved by streamlining contract management processes, resulting from faster sales cycles and negotiations and operational efficiencies. So, this is not only a legal issue, but a business level one, particularly in the current global economic climate.

The time is now

The time for digital transformation within legal teams is now. Making use of legal tech to automate manual processes, make better use of data, and improve communication saves time and massively boosts productivity. A digitally enabled legal team then becomes a company-wide strategic resource that helps to shape business strategy and drive growth. We must move the legal department up the value chain if we are to truly benefit from their expertise and unlock the potential within businesses.

Author: Tom Dunlop

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