The era of digital transformation & its impact on legal

Lauren Lee | July 11, 2019 | Articles

Automation, digitization, cloud capabilities, artificial intelligence – these themes are all top of mind, tip of tongue, across C-suites. It all started with the device in your pocket, your smart phone, which by estimates has the processing power “several thousand times greater than that of the computers that landed a man on the moon in 1969.”

Regardless of our relationship to smartphones, whether a friendly distraction, outright codependence, or somewhere in between (you might even be reading this from one right now), smartphones have fundamentally changed the way we interact with information, with brands and with each other. We exist in a world of convenience, intelligence, instantaneity. The power of technology has created a new standard and set of expectations that extend far beyond our pockets – from shopping to streaming to sharing to banking – digital and cloud capabilities have had a wide-reaching impact. And these same expectations and transformations are now knocking on the door of the enterprise.

Did you know… 85% of enterprise decision makers believe they have two years to integrate digital initiatives before falling behind their competitors?

These accommodations aren’t luxuries, they are absolutes and they are reshaping how we expect to engage with our tech stacks, manage our daily tasks, and ultimately do business. These expectations are the driving force behind digital transformation and forcing executives to rethink how their company runs.

What Does this Mean for the Legal Department?

As an in-house legal professional, you may be thinking, that’s nice, but shifting technology is for the CEO and CIO to fuss over. I’m here to manage risk and handle litigation, not worry about digital disruption. However, the reality is that corporate counsel is no longer insulated from technology and digital transformation.

As the external expectations for efficiency and effectiveness bump up against the enterprise, the expectations internally have begun to shift. Corporate legal teams, most notably legal operations, are increasingly being viewed as a key strategic partner of the business. They are being asked to be more fluid, more efficient, and drive more economic value for departments beyond their own.

If the consumer world is keeping pace with the smartphone, remaining apt and open to evolving technology, many enterprises still function like a flip phone: slower to adopt, outdated technology, and largely on-premise. With that comparison in mind, legal departments traditionally lag behind the rest of the company can sometimes feel like a landline. IACCM estimates that “an overwhelming majority” of legal teams, 85% to be exact, rely on manual, time intensive processes and have been slow to adapt to new tools. Those who insist on analog methods will simply be outrun by companies who’ve embraced innovative, data-driven solutions.

The Fight to Improve Efficiency & Lower Cost Reigns Supreme

As the corporate center focused on risk and liability, it makes sense that the legal team would traditionally be hesitant to try new tools. But in the fight to improve efficiency and lower cost, automation becomes a key ally. Corporate legal teams have long been plagued by highly manual, low impact tasks. Standard processes like contract review, approvals, NDAs, matter management can all be automated and streamlined with a legal operations management platform. After all, you wouldn’t want to sow, hoe, and harvest a vegetable garden just to eat a salad.

As corporate counsel’s purview continues to widen, so will the set of tools and legal technology they leverage. To see how a legal operations management platform can create value for your legal department and organization, download our white paper, 10 Signs You Need a Legal Operations Platform and take our quick questionnaire to help you determine if it’s the right time to embark on a digital transformation journey.