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Interview with Baptiste Armaignac of Legal Suite, Septeo Group
June 28, 2023
For over 20 years, Baptiste has helped companies and governments to implement innovative technological solutions with his in-depth understanding of the legal field’s challenges and evolution of technologies. Since 2018, and Septeo’s acquisition of Legal Suite, he has overseen the North American subsidiary based in Montreal.
Thank you for joining us, Baptiste. Let’s begin by defining the intake process.
The intake process refers to how a legal department gathers information and manages data requests. To efficiently handle those, legal departments need a centralized system that can assign, reassign, or automate tasks across the department. This automation streamlines the process, saves time, which is crucial, considering the multitude of requests received. This system is commonly known as a legal ticketing system, similar to the IT ticketing systems we’re all familiar with. The intake process is closely linked to this system as it collects information from clients seeking legal assistance. By automating the assignment of these requests across the department, time is saved, the process becomes streamlined, and costs and risks are reduced.
We’ve touched on this already, but could you elaborate on the benefits of having an effective intake process?
The legal software industry faces several challenges in managing the intake process. The efficient organization of assignments is a significant issue, especially for legal operations. To address this, over 70 percent of deals in the past two years have involved implementing an automated intake process. The goal is to streamline assignments by automating task allocation to in-house based on their expertise and availability. This enables faster decision-making and enhances overall process efficiency.
Automating the assignment process also aids in the tracking and structuring of company intake and data, simplifying data analysis. This, in turn, helps manage activities, monitor progress, and generate reports. Additionally, effective knowledge management facilitates understanding different types of requests and how to handle them. It also allows for smoother transitions between legal teams and retention of knowledge from previous assignments.
All of these align with the role of legal operations, managing the legal department, optimizing resources, and optimizing processes by tracking data and key performance indicators (KPIs).
You’re absolutely right. Many companies are now focusing on organizing their legal departments for enhanced efficiency, and the intake process plays a vital role in achieving that objective. It is also one of the first tasks of a Legal Operations Officer.
Since we’ve discussed the benefits of a good intake process, let’s talk about some challenges faced by legal departments in implementing this process.
One of the main challenges organizations encounter is the absence of an intake process. This leads to managing numerous emails, which can result in the loss or delay of important information. That’s why an intake process is necessary to ensure accurate tracking and utilization of all information for providing appropriate responses.
However, implementing a new process can be challenging, especially when transitioning from email to a new system. People may question why they should use a new system instead of sticking with email, which they are already familiar with.
To address this challenge, we closely collaborate with our clients to communicate the benefits of the new intake form. The system offers numerous advantages, such as easy request tracking and access to essential information. By involving the requester in the process, they become more invested in the outcome.
Although there may be initial resistance to change, the benefits of implementing a new intake process outweigh the risks of relying solely on email.
The second challenge that arises is involving the IT department. When implementing a legal software solution, IT involvement is crucial, and it becomes even more necessary in the intake process. This is because the IT department needs to integrate the intake process with the company directory to determine employee access. Sometimes, the company may have IT-related questions that need to be addressed before implementing the intake process.
Another aspect to consider is the type of intake process. Emails can be disorganized, so it’s important to think about how to structure the data collection form. Starting with a basic standard intake process is recommended, followed by adding more details or granularity later. A phased approach.
Employee involvement and change management are also crucial factors to consider when implementing an intake process. It’s essential to determine the type of form or intake you want to receive and assign roles accordingly. However, companies may not always be adequately prepared for this, leading to improper implementation.
It seems that an automated intake process addresses many challenges faced by legal departments, such as acting as a communication liaison between attorneys, IT, and legal ops. If everything is managed through email, Slack, or Teams, important information can quickly get lost. Having a centralized system creates a record.
An intake process goes beyond a web form by not only collecting data but also identifying the sender and their authorization to do so.
Moreover, an intake process often involves collaboration and a shared workspace. While it is typically a standalone tool, it can be linked to a standard management solution for optimal efficiency of legal operations. However, it’s crucial for the intake process to have its own set of standards because not all intakes will become case files. Some intakes may remain as requests and need to be easily identifiable and organized. Establishing a strong connection between the intake process and a standard management solution is essential.
How can the intake process be effectively managed?
We discussed the risks associated with using email for historical and current intake processes, including data loss, missed deadlines, security breaches, and privacy violations. To address these concerns, we recommend utilizing a dedicated portal where authorized users can access and track all intake information in one place. This portal also facilitates collaboration and sharing of additional information.
While basic web forms can be used for intake, the real value comes from linking the collected data and requester information to your database. This strengthens knowledge management and increases efficiency in providing legal advice. Additionally, with all information centralized, it becomes easier to retrieve and cross-reference relevant data for better decision-making.
The process becomes streamlined, more manageable, and, at the same time, more secure, which is crucial when dealing with a corporation’s data, especially in legal matters.
Now, let’s move on to our final question: how can legal operations managers position the legal department as a leader within their organization?
The legal department needs to establish its leadership position within the organization. By taking control of the input and data from internal clients and stakeholders, the department can efficiently manage and prioritize legal activities. This leads to improved KPIs, visibility, and overall leadership. With statistical data, the department can easily identify and address major issues, even justify a request for increased budget.
The legal department holds a central and vital role in the company, and stakeholders gain confidence when they see the department in control of its data. It is increasingly expected for the legal department to manage risks and provide relevant information using software and centralized information. By utilizing the intake process and sharing information with the rest of the company, the legal department can establish itself as a leader.
Baptiste Armaignac is Director of Business Development North America at Legal Suite Inc., Septeo Group. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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