In today’s business world, universal goals such as transparency, efficiency gains and data analysis are achieved through the combination of skilled personnel and software. The discipline of legal operations is no exception to this and is proven by a glance at the world’s leading legal operations teams. There is not one among them who does not rely on tailor-made legal operations tools in their daily work.
In our Legal Operations Benchmarking Report, we found a high correlation between legal operations maturity and breadth of legal technology being used. Whether slicing the results to compare by country, industry, or company size, the result is the same; mature legal operations and legal technology usage are correlated. Using technology to assist in achieving goals means greater success, which leads to growing legal operations departments and more advanced capabilities and goals.
Legal Operations Business Priorities
In the BusyLamp Legal Operations Benchmarking Report, there were four priorities reported across the board:
- Reducing external legal spend.
- Automating and streamlining manual processes.
- Improving legal work prioritisation.
- Increasing the quality of legal advice.
Over-arching these is the additional priority to evaluate and introduce legal technology. Although it may seem like a separate priority that can be ranked alongside the others, it underpins all other legal operations priorities. As demonstrated by legal operations leaders that are using technology to enhance performance, the introduction of legal technology enables the other goals to be achieved.
How legal operations leaders use technology to achieve goals
Mature and advanced legal operations teams use technology. Smaller, less mature teams also need software tools to enhance their performance. Some of the benefits that technology delivers include:
- Legal e-Billing ensures law firms adhere to billing guidelines which saves money.
- Workflows automate repetitive, manual processes which not only saves times, but reduces manual errors and frees up lawyers to do more high value work.
- Real time dashboards on matter or contract statuses give visibility to stakeholders.
- Law firm price and performance can be compared for more transparent and fair reviews and negotiations.
- Knowledge and document management tools make it easier to collaborate, search and find information and documents.
- Consistent data creates reports and analytical capabilities to enable decision making.
Choosing the right legal software for your needs
A common failing I see time and time again is when legal operations teams get dazzled by features and end up buying technology they don’t need, and won’t use. Not only is this a waste of investment, but it creates a scepticism that effects future projects. Some teams may need more than one highly customised solution with multiple integrations; others need a simple out-of-the-box tool to automate key processes. Before you talk to any vendor, you need to know what your challenges and goals are and document your current process and workflows. Good vendors, and I speak for BusyLamp when I say this, will not try to sell you all the bells and whistles that result in you buying an under-used solution; we want your project to succeed just as much as you do.
My colleague Bryan King wrote a three-part blog series that goes into this topic in much more detail. As an overview though, I recommend the following legal technology project steps:
- Identify your key challenges, needs and requirements.
- Define the project team, include future users, stakeholders, and don’t forget members from other teams that will be impacted.
- Document your current people, processes and technology for the challenges you’re facing. Have a go at how you might change this and what your priorities are; what are ideal, acceptable and unacceptable outcomes.
- The vendor or consultant will be able to help you refine this further down the line.
- Research the market, possible solutions, vendors and consultants. Consider “build-or-buy” options.
- Only now should you approach vendors and consultants. If you do this any sooner you will be overwhelmed with all the potential opportunities for improvement and you will lose focus of what is most important for your business right now.
- Calculate the business case, including any ROI. (Download our guide to building a business case for legal e-billing).
- Consider and plan for the impact of change management, stakeholder management, and corporate culture.
- Choose the right solution for your team!
Data-driven decision making
The introduction of legal technology will achieve “quick-wins” in the cost and efficiency goals mentioned above. Where mature legal operations departments excel is in the integration of multiple legal technology tools. This creates centralised, consistent data that in turn enables advanced data analytics across multiple legal practice areas and work types. It is owing to their data analysis capabilities that mature legal operations functions can address more challenging legal department problems, and make data-driven, strategic decisions around department staffing, matter resourcing, risk management, negotiations, panel reviews and more. From your very first legal technology project, you have started to create data that will take your cost and efficiency savings to the next level and position legal as a strategic, value-generator for the business.
Antoni Chrysostomou, Director Sales and Business Development – UK & Nordics, BusyLamp