The Alternative In-House Technology Summit, which was recently held near London, provided further proof, if any were needed, that the legal operations function continues to grow in Europe. This is true both in terms of the number of people working in the profession and in the level of value they are bringing to their organizations. Attendance at the summit was up from last year, just as it was at this year’s CLOC London Institute; and both events drew enthusiastic professionals eager to continue improving legal department performance and outcomes.
The summit featured speakers from companies in financial services, insurance, telecommunications, and many other industries, sharing their experiences and observations. The subject matter was wide-ranging across the legal technology space, but there were a few key takeaways that have stayed with me since the event. Here are my top ten:
- Legal departments are becoming more strategic and need to continue on this trajectory over the long term. This will require managing their technology investments and looking at the total cost of ownership for the solutions they choose.
- Legal Operations professionals need to become internal salespeople. When they identify technology that will help them do their jobs more effectively, that often means efficiency and visibility improvements for the organization as a whole. The better they are at making the business case, the more funding they are likely to get for that technology.
- Before purchasing new technology solutions, legal departments need to understand and document existing pain points and process flows. That advance work helps ensure the right choice of technology partner to meet your specific needs. Be sure to select one with a strong customer service culture that can support your evolving needs over the long term.
- Technology isn’t always the only solution. The best answer to an issue or opportunity for improvement could also be people- or process-centred. Often, the right response is some combination of these resources, for example, leveraging better processes or technology to make people more effective.
- One size doesn’t fit all. Some companies, due to their size and culture, encourage high agility and are more innovative environments, while others need to work through more robust processes to meet their goals. Take your company’s culture into account and make sure you select solutions that can accommodate it.
- There are innovations and technological improvements happening throughout most companies – these can often be leveraged by the legal department, as well. For example, if other departments have document management software, collaboration tools, or chatbots, leveraging them for Legal could give you some quick wins.
- Be up-front about managing change of all kinds. Whether you’re honing processes or implementing new technologies, you’ll have better adoption and greater success if everyone affected knows exactly what to expect and what’s expected of them.
- Sharing successes can establish legal operations teams as digital and efficiency champions. Look for opportunities to spread the word among the wider legal department, and the rest of the organization, about the value and expertise the team is providing.
- Listening is a critical skill for legal operations professionals. They can only fully succeed by understanding what lawyers need and what the business expects of the legal department.
- Legal departments are increasingly seeing the benefit of hiring staff members whose skill sets complement those of lawyers. For example, in-house teams more routinely include Project Management and Business Analysis professionals as business goals become more central to the department’s mission.
The increasing prominence of legal operations teams in the UK and Europe has created the opportunity for conferences like the Alternative In-House Technology Summit, where peers and experts can gather to share best practices and learn from each other’s experience. It’s an exciting time to be a part of this profession, which is only growing in value and importance.
For more on the benefits of technology for legal departments, watch our webinar on Building a Business Case for Enterprise Legal Management Technology Investment.