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Corporate Legal Department Health Check: Are you equipped to thrive?
December 2, 2022
According to the Thomson Reuters 2022 State of the Corporate Law Departments report, “the most successful law departments will be those that leverage the momentum of the past two years to actively embrace transformative change.” This ability to adapt will affect how legal departments respond to increasingly complex regulatory frameworks, retain and motivate talent, use outside counsel, and contribute to overall business success.
So, time for a reality check. How ready to thrive is your legal department in this new world? Ask yourself these five essential questions to evaluate whether your department is set up and equipped for the future.
1. Is the balance of work optimal?
How much time is your department spending on lengthy, manual, or administrative tasks that could be automated or systemized? To get started with automation, it’s important to look for key processes that are step-driven, repetitive, and rules-based. Consider having legal operations track core metrics to measure the impact of your initiatives.
Remember, as your team takes back more work, such as ECA or first pass review, you will need to create more time — automation is the number one way to do so.
2. Are costs under control?
Do you regularly exceed budgets on core activities that do not generate value, such as high-volume transaction support? If you find the source of unforeseen costs, review the supporting processes to see how technology or workflow adaptation can help.
3. Are your risk bases covered?
When it comes to handling data, risk spans everything from noncompliance to cyber breaches. Risk can also come from technologies and manual processes that rely on repetitive data entry and input, and even includes how your department works with outside counsel. Consider consolidating to one legal tech platform that can handle all aspects of ediscovery, from legal hold production to presenting ESI data, and which can store your company’s data securely in the long term without risk to you.
Moreover, keeping your work product in-house, on one platform — as opposed to distributed across each of the law firms you employ and the systems they use — allows for the utilization of next-generation technology like cross-matter AI.
4. Is your team/talent enabled and satisfied?
If you don’t know the answer to this question, you are at risk of losing key people from your team. One way to keep employees engaged is to promote efficiency and focus on high-value work — the right technology can help to empower these changes.
When determining what solutions can improve collaboration, save time and transform outcomes, look for a vendor who provides professional services and support along with their technology offerings. Why? Giving your team access to powerful, easy-to-use technology plus industry experts not only contributes to higher job satisfaction, but also frees up time for your team to better serve their clients strategically.
5. Can you expedite routine tasks?
Take some time to audit the way the legal team works. Identify where people are spending the bulk of their hours to help prioritize areas for technology investment, and where complex workflows and processes are making matters more difficult, time-consuming, and frustrating than they need to be. Again, consider legal technology that supports best practice efficiencies, expedites routine tasks, and gives managers oversight on everything from budgets to performance metrics.
So, how did you do? Never fear if you’re not quite where you want to be — transformation is an ongoing journey, not a point-in-time change. Even small steps can deliver meaningful results and put you and your organization on the path to productivity, efficiency, and better legal outcomes.
By Kristin Zmrhal
Kristin Zmrhal is a leader in DISCO’s product strategy organization, where she partners with DISCO’s product delivery organization to define product priorities and feature sets. She works directly with clients to gather feedback on current and future DISCO capabilities. Zmrhal brings nearly 20 years of experience in legal technology consulting and support, having also worked at Google, Fortune 500 companies and Am Law 200 firms, and has a passion for leveraging technology and optimizing workflows to improve legal outcomes. email@example.com
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