General counsel who traditionally reigned over risk, ethics, and compliance are now being asked to think about budget, technology, and operational efficiency. A handful of studies demonstrate the pressure general counsel and their legal teams are under:
- Only 28% of legal departments are hiring, yet 82% of departments expect their legal needs to increase in the next year (LawGeex LegalTech Buyer’s Guide)
- 69% of general counsel cite improving cost and efficiency as a driving force in their daily roles (Clyde & Co Looking Glass Report)
- 65% of corporate counsel say that executive teams in their organizations “almost always” seek the legal department’s input on business decisions (ACC Law Department Management Report)
As the responsibility of general counsel rapidly expands, we’re left with one question: what can general counsel do to make sure their department is fully integrated into the business and aligned to goals and overall business objectives?
2 Key Investments to Respond to New Pressures
Investment 1: Legal Operations
According to the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), “The legal landscape has decisively changed” and in response, general counsel and their in-house teams have focused on operational effectiveness – thinking, acting, and spending more like a small business rather than a law firm. At the heart of it all is the drive for efficiency and finding new ways for the legal department to streamline processes and manage complicated budgets.
Legal operations has been the fundamental and dedicated piece to solving these issues. Recent surveys indicate that over half of all legal departments have invested in a dedicated legal operations function, up 5% since last fall. That number jumps to 71% when looking at enterprise-size legal teams.
But because dedicated headcount is an expensive resource, many legal teams are supplementing their operational needs through technology.
Investment 2: Technology
“This is a really exciting time in the legal industry,” explains Nitin Batra, Global Chief Operating Officer in Citigroup Inc.’s Office of the General Counsel. “We are experiencing an explosion of LegalTech.”
Catalyst Investors reports that the legal tech industry has a $16 billion total addressable market with companies investing $233M on solutions in 2017 alone. Of those companies that made the investment, 80% claim they have achieved above average value from use of technology tools.
As the industry grows, so does the anticipation to implement and evolve much of the tech and working habits of legal teams. From a panel of forward-thinking general counsel, 49% reported that they seek the ability to leverage new technologies to redesign processes and workflows.
Raising the (Legal Operations) Bar
Legal’s purview continues to widen, but thankfully so does the set of tools and technology available to modern legal teams. As 2019 creeps around the corner and budgets are finalized, take the opportunity to evaluate the legal tech landscape and your operational processes to better understand what ways your team can ease the mounting pressures.
Not sure where to start? Use our ten point evaluation guide to help you evaluate your current technology and processes. Questions included will help you determine whether you should start thinking about a legal operations management platform, a modern tool that’s helping in-house teams build a strong operational foundation and replacing legacy ELM solutions for e-Billing and matter management.