The status quo in legal departments
Before considering the question of where to implement software in the legal department, it is important to consider the current state of affairs. Many companies have very small legal departments or even only one-woman/man-shows. This means that all threads come together here. From personnel work to contract law to consulting in the general legal sense. In most cases, these are routine tasks that are still processed very analogously and thus inefficiently. An inquiry is received by e-mail or – even more time-consuming – by telephone and is then processed accordingly by the in-house counsel or in-house legal counsel. When it comes to telephone inquiries, it’s always the same: Calls are always classified as more urgent and hyped up than they really are. And something is always lost because the case or the contract is not available. With mail, the challenge is that it can get lost in the flood of messages during work peaks. Furthermore, there is no real tracking of the performance of the legal department. After all, you’re most interested in “How many requests did I handle this month? How many of them were related to area X and which of them were useful?” In the end, all of these questions help you to set yourself up better, little by little, and to automate things.
So how can I now relieve the legal department?
That’s a good question, and you’re asking it in exactly the right place. Efficient work is particularly important in medium-sized and fast-growing SMEs. Compared to large corporations, they may not have such a broad base of specialists in every area. In each area or department, software is used to support and remind the human brain (e.g. CRM systems for sales). This relieves the employees. They can develop their thoughts more freely because they don’t have to think about it all the time themselves; instead, the software takes care of it. Why can’t this happen for legal departments as well? Well, right now a rethinking is taking place in the industries. Away from pen and paper to working with digitalization and, above all, software-supported automation. The legal department can well tolerate this change and, above all, quickly internalize and implement it.
So what workflows can I make more efficient, and how, by using software products?
The first question is often. Which software area should you look at? Does classic law firm software fit the bill? This question can be answered with a lawyer-classic, “it depends.” Does your legal department frequently work with or on cases or in court? This is especially the case with larger more specialized firms who often also work with patents, etc. Then it may make sense to take a closer look at these solutions. In 98% of the companies, however, one should take a closer look at the individual sub-areas that make up the majority of the work. And these are usually the same pain points in every SME.
Request management or also called legal ticketing
As mentioned at the beginning, most internal requests are made by mail. There is immense potential for tracking and simplification here. The challenge has already been discussed, so how can it be solved. Requests can be made via a web form or an internal portal. Employees* can then accept and process these tickets. The advantage of all this is that the in-house counsel or the syndicates can see the facts at a glance. Documents, comments from the requester and the request are thus digitally on the desk. The rest of the procedure is as follows. The user who first reviews the request decides whether to process it himself or pass it on. As soon as a request has been answered, the requester is informed. Everything happens in the same workflow, so that this happens uniformly for all departments and deviation from it is no longer possible. These workflows are often called work structures and they vary from company to company. Therefore, you should make sure to go for an appropriately flexible solution here. Unless you want to adapt your workflows to the software. You should ask yourself this question.
A second project, which can also be implemented quite quickly, is the use of software for digital contract management. In most companies, there is no central register where all contracts are stored. As a result, if contracts still exist on paper, they have to be searched for laboriously. Deadlines are missed and the legal department responsible for these contracts has no overview of them. Managing contracts digitally therefore saves time and money, and the implementation is relatively straightforward. Again, there are no limits to the elaboration of workflows. With a good roles and rights system for the users, you can set exactly which employee is allowed to see which contract and which not. There are several locations? Then you should definitely look for a multi-client capable program. Or just follow this link 😉 ShakeSpeare® for example can also be extended. You can create or send contracts, you can connect docuSign and simply automate the steps of the signature. But you should start with the first step and then develop further.
So you see, there are definitely ways to relieve the internal legal department. You just have to start doing it 😊 And once you have it, you’re further ahead than a large proportion of your fellow admirers and you have a good pound to burn when it comes to recruiting