Skip to content

Our Privacy Statement & Cookie Policy

All Thomson Reuters websites use cookies to improve your online experience. They were placed on your computer when you launched this website. You can change your cookie settings through your browser.

Artificial Intelligence

The future-focused legal team: Part 3

· 6 minute read

· 6 minute read

Technology can help general counsel do much more with less

In the first two installments of this series we explored ways to help companies navigate risk and act on opportunities, as well as how to avoid being seen as a business blocker. In this last installment of the series we explore how the right technology can help your team reach their full potential and step into the future.

“High workloads for corporate legal departments are a near universal reality. “

–2023 Legal Department Operations Index from Thomson Reuters 


The law department of the future is very much focused on doing more with less – and using technology to do it. According to the 2023 Legal Department Operations Index from Thomson Reuters, 70% of legal departments reported an increase in matter volume. Sixty-six percent of them are working with flat or decreasing budgets. And 78% said that controlling costs is a high priority.  

If your department is feeling the pinch of more work with lower budgets to get it all done, you’re not alone.  

Thomson Reuters also talked to general counsel and found that, “the vast majority state that more efficient processes will form a significant part of their cost control strategies in the coming year. 

  • Increasing the amount of work handled in-house also looks to factor heavily, as does the idea of ramping up pressure on law firms for increased hourly rate discounts.  
  • Increased use of technology also will likely play a substantial role, creating an avenue for natural alignment between GCs and the operations teams that make their departments run.”  

Effective deployment of technology will be critical as general counsel and their legal operations team look to fully support the business and act as a strategic advisor, within the budgetary constraints the business sets.  

The challenge for these future-focused teams will be moving quickly. While 72% of legal departments prioritize using technology to simplify workflow, 90% say that their department makes only slow to moderate progress when it adopts technology.  

This is truly a conundrum: Technology absolutely can support engagement of the legal function across the whole business, but it is only as effective as the people who deploy it and the processes they adopt.  

Teams have to strike the balance of letting go of legacy approaches to move toward a more tech-enabled future, while continuing to maintain service level agreements with the business. Many teams are in the “messy middle” of this transformation and are striving to stay focused on the future. 

Making the case for technology

Top-level buy-in for investment in legal technology is increasingly forthcoming, and technology is coming down in cost. Still, you will benefit from providing a robust case that demonstrates the value of legal advice and strategic insight.  

Technology initiatives will be most effective when they help the legal department find the right balance between serving corporate governance and supporting the business with legal guidance and strategic counsel.  

A legal department that can strike this balance is setting itself up for future success, rather than simply treading water in an increasingly strained business environment. Getting this right brings several tangible business benefits as well. These include the following: 

  • Greater visibility for the legal department 
  • Better risk management for the business 
  • More efficient handling of commoditized tasks 
  • More self-reliance for the legal team 
  • Financial benefits for the company and legal department 

Greater visibility for the legal department

The department will have greater visibility into matters and workflow, and you’ll be able to provide clearer reporting to the business. This can help you ensure legal integrity. It can also help you avoid the kind of business and legal problems that can become very expensive later on. This includes those future liabilities that would have been foreseen if only someone had the time and the data to figure things out.  

Better risk management for the business

Better managing risk is always positive for businesses. When well-managed, risk can turn into profit for the business. Managing and decreasing risk can help smooth business relationships and avoid problems further down the road. It can also better equip teams to deal with uncertainties. 

More efficient handling of commoditized tasks

Where there is big data and clear rules there is increasingly commoditization of tasks. Greater efficiency through the automation of key processes, such as contract management, means that your team can complete commoditized tasks faster and cheaper, leaving skilled talent to do what they studied the law to do.  

Increasingly, in-house teams are using technology that utilizes generative artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate the automation of commoditized tasks.  

More self-reliance for the legal team

Automation can mean delivering more with less and doing a lot more with less time. It can also help you create an environment where you have the confidence and self-reliance to complete more complex tasks internally, reducing reliance on outside counsel and saving a lot of money.  

These are exciting times to be in house as new technology enables internal lawyers to dedicate more time to strategic counsel. Little wonder there is a trend of lawyers moving in house, as well as GCs taking up C-suite positions. This reflects the exciting opportunities for all members of the legal department.  

Financial benefits for the company and legal department

A better connected, efficient, and productive legal team will inevitably produce knock-on financial and cashflow benefits. Good legal work saves money, while bad legal work costs money. A mistake made today may be a case of kicking the can down the road — in legal terms this can be costly, leading to increased liabilities or expense to extricate the company from a bad deal.  

The future-focused legal team navigates the “messy middle”

Future-focused legal teams are in the messy middle of transformation right now. They are orienting themselves toward their role as strategic advisors and efficient stewards of business resources. At the same time, legacy processes, tools, and mindsets can make progress feel slow. 

Selecting technology tools that help you move toward your future vision will help. Create a technology roadmap that helps you strike this balance. You’ll find that you can innovate within your department while fulfilling your duties to serve corporate governance and support the business. 


Legal solutions from Thomson Reuters help GCs and their teams step into the future, with AI-powered workflow and research tools that streamline their work and help them do much more as they manage their resources closely.  

More answers