How a legal technology roadmap can lead you to operational effectiveness

In-house legal departments are getting busier and working harder—with the volume of legal work only continuing to increase. Although there is clearly more demand, growth in resources largely remains stagnant. Not only are corporate legal teams battling to serve this growing legal demand from their organizations, but in-house lawyers are also increasingly expected to act as strategic business advisors.

This is a challenge when the legal team is already stretched.

Against this backdrop, recent research indicates that the top 3 strategic priorities for corporate legal departments are:

  • Improving functional effectiveness
  • Increasing efficiency
  • Safeguarding the organization

Dynamic legal departments are responding to these challenges and priorities by turning to technology, which is helping them become leaner, more commercial, and operationally focused.

Aligning technology with priorities

The 2019 Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) Report identified that top-performing legal operations functions have a strong focus on technology to improve efficiency, transparency and data analytics, quality and consistency of work, and speed of execution. Of CLOC members surveyed, 72% reported having a technology roadmap.

When putting your technology roadmap into place, it is critical to remember that technology is merely an enabler, not a solution in its own right. To be truly effective, technology should align with your legal department strategy and priorities over a period of time.

Legal departments looking to harness technology should start with an analysis of the problems they need to solve. Once you have identified and prioritized the problems you want to address first, it’s time to start building your technology roadmap.

Gain quick wins

Typically, technology roadmaps outline the specifics on how technology can address legal department strategic needs and priorities over a 3-year period. As with any digital transformation project, starting with smaller, more manageable challenges will help to deliver quick wins to your department and wider organization.

As part of a wider effort to increase effectiveness and efficiency, and safeguard the organization, your year-one priorities may include reducing contract turnaround time and maximizing outside counsel savings. Your legal technology roadmap may therefore include initiatives to roll out e-Signature to all contract signers, optimize your e-billing solution, build a legal department risk dashboard, and expand best practice know-how access to all of your attorneys.

In year-two, your legal department may benefit from implementing workflow automation for non-disclosure agreements as a path to controlling costs. As part of an effort to increase effectiveness and efficiency, your department may turn to integrating contract management with CRM and centralizing access to legal department solutions through a web page.

Finally, your 3-year roadmap  may include initiatives to deploy bot technology for legal service requests, implement Knowledge Management, and arrange a new compliance training program.

Priorities set the direction for your roadmap

It is critical that, at each stage, your roadmap addresses key strategic priorities for your legal department. This not only ensures your technology roadmap responds to specific challenges, but also that it enables the legal department to demonstrate its value—and the value of your chosen technology—to the wider organization.

There is no doubt that leveraging technology and data enables legal teams to work smarter, to better measure exposure, and to predict where problems might emerge. Aligning your technology roadmap to your legal department strategies simply enables optimal outcomes.

To learn more about why your department needs a roadmap, how to prioritize your needs to build a roadmap, the risks of not having one, and where to get started, download our complimentary white paper.

Want to reduce law department costs?

Then explore Legal Tracker from Thomson Reuters, your source for industry-leading information, news, and practical, expert guidance