Onit

Sep 26, 2011

Doing More With Less: Why You Need Legal Process Management Tools

Businesses are clamoring to cut spending in the post-2008 economy, particularly in their legal departments. With the rising cost of litigation and decreased revenues, cost savings have become a priority for general counsel in blue chip companies, including Citi, BP, Goldman Sachs, Shell, and Sony. A recent report from Oxford University’s Said Business School interviewed 52 general counsel and found that a key component of trimming the fat from legal spending will come from a “production line” approach. Part of those spending cuts can come in the form of legal process management.

While it’s true that in-house legal departments have grown in the past few years as companies shift their legal work from pricey outside counsel to their in-house lawyers, the hiring hasn’t remained at pace with the work generated in corporate legal departments. Legal process management helps legal departments deal with the increased workload generated by the “do more with less” mentality by automating some tasks and streamlining others.

For example, in-house counsel in large companies may find themselves sifting through emails to keep abreast of outstanding requests like litigation and contracts for new customers. With a strong legal process management system, these kinds of requests can be generated through a company-wide portal that routes the request to the correct person, eliminating wasted time sifting through emails.

Automating requests is just the first part. Being able to tag projects and documents to provide a faster way to find information, managing documents, and managing tasks certainly increases efficiency. Part of doing more with less is increasing efficiency to a point where each mouse click is meaningful, eliminating the time spent searching for documents or figuring out who is working on what part of the project.

And a good legal process management system also includes legal department budgeting that allows in-house counsel to see all the legal department’s expenses with just a few clicks. Legal departments can create budgets for each project and then view where the spend is, as well as electronically approve invoices to speed payment and reduce paperwork that can get buried on a busy lawyer’s or paralegal’s desk. Creating budgets defines the expectations and allows legal departments to more effectively choose vendors for the services needed outside their department’s abilities.

The post-2008 economy has left in-house legal departments doing more with less, but if they’re willing to invest a little time and money into a package that automates processes and allows them to budget more effectively, they really will be able to meet corporate goals and exceed expectations. The delivery of legal services doesn’t have to suffer with budget cuts, as long as legal departments make the small jump from paper-based process management to an electronic legal process management that wraps everything into a tidy package.

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