Onit

Dec 7, 2011

Driving Value with Legal Technology

 
Today’s economy is about doing more with less, period. For corporate legal departments, that means keeping as much work as possible in-house, justifying the use of outside counsel, and managing resources as efficiently as possible. The Association of Corporate Counsel’s (ACC) 2011 Chief Legal Officer Survey revealed that CLOs are affected by this reality, and at the same time, they want to improve their relationships with outside counsel and within their own legal departments.
Technology can be the string that ties these goals of so many CLOs together. It can seamlessly pull together the in-house legal department and outside counsel, as well as streamline processes and keep work in-house – without the legal department staff being buried under piles of work.

Collaborating with the in-house legal department

Unless the legal department consists of one attorney and one paralegal, it’s nearly impossible to know who is working on what at any given time. But technology can change that – a process management system can show, with one click, which attorney is working on the $500,000 contract that Sue from Sales just requested, or which paralegal is compiling documents in response to a subpoena. Tasks can be assigned – and tracked, something that doesn’t happen when emails are forwarded and discovery requests are left in someone’s inbox. CLOs can more easily delegate and manage projects, as well as track the project’s budget.

Freeing up administrative time

Technology also adds value by freeing up “administrative” time – time spent managing to-do lists, emailing colleagues for status updates, or answering emails and phone calls about matters. With a good software package, legal departments can streamline these processes, leaving more time for legal work and less time for distractions – which can mean doing more work in-house, instead of engaging outside counsel.

Justifying outside counsel

Every legal department grapples with outside counsel costs. Most CLOs are getting pressured to keep these costs down, but outside counsel is still necessary in many scenarios. However, the large legal bills for things like phone calls ($50 for a five-minute call with lead counsel on a matter for a status update) are frustrating. Using technology can increase collaboration with outside counsel and allow CLOs to view the status of matters without having to make phone calls, similar to how they can easily view the status of in-house matters. This kind of money-saver adds up, and anything that adds up to more savings pleases the number-crunchers.

It’s no surprise that, for CLOs, it’s all about value, and technology is one of the most important parts of getting the most value from not only their own legal departments but also from outside counsel. With the right technology, it’s possible to do more with less and improve relationships both inside and outside the legal department.

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