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Legal Teams Realize Bigger Impact of Tech Adoption in 2021

— May 21, 2021

Legal tech makes it possible for legal professionals to do more — and do it better — in far less time.

Over the past year, organizations have executed company-wide technology consolidation, and many departments and industries have seen mass digital transformation. In the corporate legal space, adopted technologies not only simplify complex and high-risk workflows, and provide incredibly valuable data and analytics. They also support other parts of the company — from IT to HR and finance. 

Here’s how corporate legal redefined itself over the past year, and why the legal sector that was once perceived as a cost center is on its way to being perceived as a value center.

The ‘Platformization’ of Legal

As companies went ‘digital’ at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many legal departments struggled with siloed, legacy workflows. That was a turning point, as businesses realized it was imperative to modernize their systems in order to keep up with — and get ahead of — competitors. Legal departments that are now set up for long-term success — even in the event of a global crisis — looked at their organization holistically, rather than focusing only on the software, itself. They ensured that the department’s core technology integrated seamlessly with other key business technologies to drive operational efficiency. This ‘platformization’ of legal with end-to-end solutions, which are both easy and convenient to use, allows for cross-departmental, real-time visibility into contract lifecycles and risk assessments, for example. This then enables legal professionals to provide more timely, valuable insights to their colleagues in other departments, and focus on more strategic and impactful tasks.

The Leveraging of Analytics

Once corporate legal teams fully understand what they need and implement the right tools, modernized solutions will accumulate data over time — with some offering deep insights in the form of advanced, real-time analytics. These analytics will eventually allow legal departments to update key performance indicators (KPIs) at a continuous cadence. They provide insight into how well a legal team is performing against their individualized team goals and desired business outcomes. This includes tracking improvement against their own benchmarks over time.

Laptop screen with analytics and notebook; image courtesy Negative Space via CC0
Laptop screen with analytics and notebook; image courtesy Negative Space via CC0

Over the next year, analytics and new metrics-based goals will continue to evolve for corporate legal teams. Ultimately, they will more tangibly define a legal department’s value within an organization, as a whole. The key to optimizing value through analytics, though, is tracking analytics in your current digital state. It’s never too late, no matter where you are in the digital transformation process.

From a Cost Center to a Value Center

While modernized legal technology that leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning serves to automate repetitive and mundane tasks, they aren’t in place to negotiate on a human-to-human level. Rather, these solutions improve contract negotiations and simplify contract management, as well as increase time for higher-value, more strategic work. Traditionally, legal professionals have been viewed as not-so-business-savvy — or at least not the ones who work with the numbers. But there is a business aspect to being a lawyer, and it’s being realized finally. At the end of the day, legal teams need to understand how they can contribute to the bottom line and help to evolve the business. The ‘platformization’ of legal — and the analytics and KPIs that result from it — will only help the legal department go from being perceived as a cost center to this kind of value center.

Legal tech makes it possible for legal professionals to do more — and do it better — in far less time. It allows these legal teams to focus on higher-level problem-solving, extend their influence, and help shape their company altogether. But whatever their digital strategy may be, businesses should consider taking a step-by-step approach to legal digital transformation that does not leave anyone behind. This way, organizations — as a whole — are far more likely to improve departmental efficiency, lower operating costs, and succeed with digital transformation initiatives at a company-wide level.

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