What people, processes, and technology do emerging legal departments need? What tools and technology can help them manage the legal matters facing their companies more efficiently and effectively? Yesterday, Logikcull hosted a roundtable discussion with in-house leaders, focusing on just these questions. Organized by Evolve the Law, Above the Law’s Legal Innovation Center, the inaugural “Emerging Legal Departments: Legal Tech 101” event brought together dozens of in-house leaders to discuss issues facing in-house legal departments—and actionable strategies to address them.
Legal tech mavens Monica Zent, founder of ZentLaw and CEO of Foxwordy, an AI-powered legal collaboration platform, and Stephanie Corey, co-founder of UpLevel Ops, a legal strategy and operations consulting firm, moderated the discussion, and they were joined by an all-star panel of in-house professionals:
If you couldn’t make it, don’t worry. A full replay is available below:
And if you’re looking for a cheat sheet, the panelists provided one themselves. Here are their top tips for in-house legal professionals:
Start by understanding your baseline. Coming into a small or emerging legal department can be overwhelming, Asana’s Ashlee Best noted. While you might be tempted to start making changes or bring in a new tool right away, start with a current-state analysis. Assess what your department is doing today: What is working? What is painful? Then, start focusing on the metrics for improvement and collaborate across the company to develop a legal roadmap.
Learn your existing tools before looking for new ones. There is an entire universe of high-tech legal operation tools out there, but it’s often best to work with the tools you already have, suggests Laszlo Kupan of J.D. Power. When designing legal department processes, first determine what technology your company is using, then help IT extend the value of that solution. For example, if your department uses the Microsoft suite of products, make sure you’re getting maximum functionality by researching platform features, like auto-categorizing emails in Outlook or using templates in Word. Those buttons you usually ignore might end up saving you a ton of time.
Look for simple hacks to save admin time. Simplify contract management by tracking contracts in a central location, or shave contract review time by finding patterns in negotiation. Figure out what part of your contract template typically gets the most push-back from opposing counsel and tweak the language a little bit. It might not seem like much, but time savings add up. Reducing the number of back-and-forths will give you more time to work on other internal improvements.
Make sure you have the support of the C-Suite. If you’re heading up a new department, get your company’s executives behind you, advises Smartsheet’s Paul Porrini. Develop business relationships within the company. Use metrics to measure spend and efficiency, and track those numbers over time. This is key to justifying new technology or tools later on.
Leverage your network. You’re likely not the first person to face a problem, whatever it may be. Go to your network to crowdsource solutions, Jane Froyd says. That doesn’t just mean other in-house professionals, either. Outside counsel are often happy to offer their friendly advice.