Advice from the experts: 3 pro tips for evaluating your legal technology

Lauren Lee | November 13, 2018 | Articles

The term “tech stack” has become the common way to describe the group of technologies that users leverage to improve their operations and daily activities. But categories and industries are becoming inundated with the hundreds of software technologies available. It’s causing users to adopt far more tech than is needed – and a lot of time and resources are being wasted in the process.

When talking about the legal industry specifically, legal tech companies raised nearly $1 billion in funding in 2018, in contrast to $233 million in 2017. Today’s legal teams have a myriad of options beyond legacy ELM (Enterprise Legal Management) platforms and procure-to-pay solutions. This raises a few key questions:

  1. How can legal teams evaluate their current technologies and processes?
  2. How can legal teams connect the various systems they’ve adopted over the years for a more streamlined and efficient workflow?
  3. With so many new entrants, what does today’s legal tech landscape look like?

3 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Your Legal Tech Stack

We’ve compiled a 10-point questionnaire to help legal teams evaluate their current legal technologies. Download your copy and get a jumpstart by asking yourself these 3 questions:

1. Is My Legal Department a Cost Center?

Corporate counsel must show the business that legal is not a cost center, but an effective business partner – something that’s achieved by creating total visibility into legal spend and greater financial discipline. But the concerns around cost aren’t just a function of budget management, but the ability to demonstrate ROI.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I know how much I am spending?
  • Do I know what I am spending it on?
  • Can I effectively measure the benefit of that spend?

Pro Tip: “Focus on your finances. The foundational level of a legal operations function is your finances which means financial and vendor management need to be your top priority.”

Dan Baker, Chief of Staff, Director of Legal Operation,  
More Pro Tips from Dan Baker

2. Is My Legal Department Reactive or Proactive?

Traditionally legal comes into play as an advisory, consultative service when specific legal matters, compliance, and negotiations are at stake. It’s an on-demand support function. This way of thinking puts your legal department in a very reactionary state.  As a key strategic partner to the business side of the house, it’s critical to be proactive value-adding business function.

Ask yourself:

  • Can I anticipate requests and services needed from the business side of the house?
  • Am I able to quickly replicate services and create repeatable processes?
  • Are we constantly on our heels? Does every request feel like is starts at square one?

Pro Tip: “Learn the business and what the levers in the business are so that you can help make better risk assessments. If you sit just in legal and don’t talk to the business very much, you rely on “this is what I learned at the law firm” or “this is what the firm says” or “this would be the perfect contract,” and you are not going to move things forward. People will go around you and continue to find a way around you if you are a blocker all the time. Being able to combine an understanding of the business with the legal ground rules can move you from blocker to value-add business partner– and you get your way more!”

– Stephanie King, SVP General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, AdRoll Group
More Pro Tips from Stephanie King

3. Are We Plagued by Operational Inefficiencies?

Efficiency is key as legal ops becomes the cornerstone effective in-house operations. Many teams need to revision their processes, approvals, and workflows. Doing so can drastically improve the costs and production of the legal team. Technology can be a boon in this progression, but only if you have a strong grasp of where tasks bottleneck or stall. A poor process will remain a poor process even with technology in place.

Ask yourself:

  • Are my highly trained legal experts bogged down by simple or administrative tasks?
  • Do we have clear, documented workflows?
  • Are we able to quickly and effectively onboard new talent or are we reliant on tribal knowledge?

Pro Tip: “I have learned you must relentlessly prioritize your time and focus on important strategic issues that will actually impact the company’s growth. Recognizing the difference between important and not important is a key skill, as opposed to just starting at the top of your inbox and working your way down”

– Katie Biber, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Thumbtack
More Pro Tips from Katie Biber

An Era of Flexibility Over Features

When it comes to adopting more modern tech, we recommend the platform approach over point solutions and products. Platforms like SimpleLegal that are highly configurable ensure that your department’s unique needs are met, and that standard operating procedures for the legal department are followed.

If you’re unsure of how to your own legal tech stack measures up, we’ve created a quick ten-point questionnaire to aid in your evaluation – download your copy today!