In-house legal departments are being increasingly managed like they’re business units. Adding Legal Operations capabilities is a consequence of these departments being held accountable in new ways in large part because they’re now more important than ever for their companies.
Their businesses are being forced to cope with a growing universe of regulatory challenges and other risks, and with managing the complexities of globalization and dynamic markets.
So one of the first things they do? Call in the lawyers.
As the legal director of Royal Dutch Shell once pointed out in The Law Society Gazette, in-house counsel are being summoned into more and more business situations, and GCs are huddling with CEOs as never before. As he put it,
This ‘pull’ by the business presents a challenge to legal departments, which have traditionally operated as a service provider, behind the scenes, and only coming to the frontline when legal issues are to be determined…The call to sit at the table with the business comes with certain expectations. The main one is that we move from being a group of individual contributors focusing on protecting value, to being an integrated team that adds value to the business.
Value, of course, is pegged to ROI, so legal departments are pressed to operate as businesses. Ergo, the rise of Legal Operations, and a search for continuous improvement, increased responsiveness, greater productivity, and control of legal spend.
Technology doesn’t make for automatic ROI
Anybody who’s lived through an enterprise platform adoption before (and even after) the arrival of SaaS can understand the fact technology isn’t necessarily any kind of panacea for bottom-line demands.
The up-front investments in software and architecture were often legendarily steep, and maintenance costs could be shocking. Platoons of IT staff had to be on constant deployment, and any customizations a user might make could easily create a walled garden where upgrades or integrations became massive headaches.
Even with all that, hard dollar ROI didn’t have to be a far-off fantasy. Just how quickly it – or other types of value, like improvements in agility, collaboration, work product, and so on – was the question: What’s the T2V?
Legal Ops teams are facing that question at a time when there’s a myriad of legal tech tools banging away for their attention. Which of them offers the quickest route from implementation to payback? From Point A to ROI?
Legal workflow automation and accelerating legal operations ROI
One technology in particular stands out here, and it’s legal workflow automation (LWFA). Though not all LWFAs are created equal: Quick ROI is inextricably linked to several factors that have to be filters for your technology shopping list:
- Ease of adoption, the kind that comes with a platform- and device-agnostic solution that can be quickly rolled out everywhere it’s needed, with a very short learning curve. The sooner Legal Operations is able to deploy and employ a solution, the quicker it begins reaping its rewards.
- Ease of use, so workflows can be automated without having IT on speed dial…or for that matter, even on your contacts list. SaaS solutions with intuitive interfaces and simple-to-grasp tools (like, yes, our own offering) are designed to make everyone an enthusiastic adopter, which scales up benefits and ROI.
- Flexibility and adaptability, so the solution can be right-sized to Legal Operations needs from the start, and can help you revise and optimize any process that’s in need of it…and eventually, LWFA users find that’s a pretty inclusive category, as they find more and more instances where automation can apply.
- Proof of performance and support, as in validation and verification from a happy user community that can attest to all of the above.
These are just a few of the aspects of a good workflow automation solution that can contribute to T2V. How many other benefits are there for a legal department that embraces? There are at least a dozen, and we’ve actually written an eBook about them.
Maybe the ultimate justification for legal workflow automation is that it accelerates – processes, response times, and the overall pace and performance of a legal department. Companies are demanding their legal teams evolve, and evolve in a hurry, so they can run at the same speed as the rest of the business.
With LWFA, it’s possible for legal departments to actually do that…and even run a bit ahead, leading the way for everyone else.