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Jun 16, 2020

COVID as a Catalyst: How In-House Counsel Have Employed Technology Tools for Cost Containment

In the last article in our series on process efficiency and collaboration during COVID-19, we addressed the need for legal departments to stay on track and prepare for increased demand. We also recognized the need for technological innovation and process improvements that could be bottlenecked by shoestring budgets and remote staffing models as remote working environments have truly flipped legal department organizational structures on their head. This installment covers more granular tactics legal departments have been using to prepare for the incoming demand while containing costs and driving efficiencies, which they can build upon when legal departments can return to more traditional staffing models.

Technology Adoption for Containing Costs

Onit and many other providers have been evangelizing technology point solutions as part of larger workflow models for years. Now, the crux of what we are saying is this could be a prime moment to reevaluate a part of your solution you may have tabled. While many industries have shifted toward automation for cost-cutting process efficiencies, legal has been a bit slow to adopt these tools past eDiscovery and cookie-cutter agreement assembly. There has been quite a bit of literature published over the last five years or so that shows that technologies behind many of the most effective legal technology offerings are highly flexible and highly scalable, allowing for legal departments to find point solutions for almost any task they are trying to automate.

Plainly, legal organizations are very wary when it comes to what they think is replacing people’s jobs with machinery. It’s not a glamorous solution, and thought leadership is an important part of legal professional culture. However, the outcomes of adding automated tools to legal workflows include greater accuracy and efficiency and ultimately improves organizational cost cutting by not insignificant amounts. Legal departments can drive efficiencies dramatically by retooling and standardizing processes, which lead to time savings and serves as the highest impact and value improvements. In-house counsel should be specifically considering technology tools that improve accessibility, add remote work capabilities, collect higher quality data for analytics, and offer spend tracking in order to assess the efficacy of their process improvements and enhance lawyers’ abilities to tackle their workflows.

Work from Home as a Method for Improving Organizational Structures

It’s no secret that legal organizations, while not being particularly hierarchical internally, have rigorous performance standards. Like a microchip, legal organizations function most efficiently when all of their components are placed close to each other, but no one can confirm how long work from home will last and no company that wants to keep its employees safe should be hastily forcing employees to return to offices.

Work from home virtual office spaces allow for organizations to employ the best personnel they can find and with the correct tools to help legal functions achieve much greater process accuracy and analytics. Many of the tools legal service providers showcase allow users to organize their workflows to be more effective no matter where they’re located. Some of these tools, like Zoom, Slack and the average collaborative DMS/Document repository have been employed by companies for years and are more important than ever. At Onit, we are quite proud of our enterprise legal management and contract lifecycle management tools, which enhance legal departments in key collaborative and contract managerial areas. Ultimately, a proper balance of thoughtful process improvement, cost saving procedures and automated tools can help departments everywhere not only adapt to the economic effects of COVID-19 but also drive efficiencies perpetually.

For corporate counsel and legal ops professionals dedicated to improving their departments and organizations with innovative solutions and capable technology, read our whitepaper titled Driving Savings, Process Efficiency and Collaboration in the Legal Department in a Post-COVID-19 Environment. Also, stay tuned for more blog posts similar to this one where we will explore the different options for rising strong from the global pandemic.


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