The ONLY Technology Plan and Checklist You Will Need to Optimize Your Law Department

Topics: Legal

Today, you’re evaluated on your ability to deliver the highest level of legal services at the lowest possible cost – and, increasingly, you’re expected to deliver these results quickly.

Technology is a key enabler to increase productivity, reduce costs and optimize overall performance. However, it’s important to remember that technology itself is not an end result – it exists to support and enable processes. Consistent use of technology through optimized policies, processes, guidelines, roles and responsibilities leads to data integrity and informed decision making. It is important that tools are seamlessly integrated into daily work processes to drive user adoption and improve day-to-day productivity.

Because we at Morae Legal have decades of experience helping General Counsel right-size your resources and boost performance, we’re often asked, “Where should I start?” With this in mind, we have put together a technology checklist to help you make strategic technology investments and get a head start on igniting your departments’ performance.

1. Begin to build and/or refresh a technology plan - It is critical to establish a medium-term (three-year) as well as an updated annual plan. When establishing a new plan, be sure to consider who should be involved, such as key stakeholders like IT partners and legal operations.

2. Review and identify the gaps between the current state and the future state you wish to achieve - Matter management, electronic billing, document management and contract management are core elements to consider when creating your plan. Each of these systems should incorporate collaboration, knowledge management, analytics and reporting functions. It is best to build on an integrated platform which can drive greater efficiency and add value.

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3. Develop and update standardized processes and procedures - Standardized processes for key areas drive effectiveness and provide a baseline for continuous improvement as business needs change over time. Below are some key functional areas and processes to consider when thinking about opportunities for standardization.

  • Matter Management – Process to review: Intake, setup, resource assignment, status updates, calendaring, reporting, closing and lessons learned
  • Document Management – Process to review: Creation, scanning, storage, retention, version control, redlines, search and retrieval
  • Contract Management – Process to review: Creation, templates, negotiation, review, execution/e-signature, approval, monitoring and ongoing management
  • Knowledge Management – Process to review: Forms, collaboration (internal/external) and reuse of work product
  • Financial Management – Process to review: Budgeting (departmental/matter), allocations, spend tracking/reporting, billing, accruals and reserves
  • Talent Management – Process to review: Recruiting, onboarding, training, development and succession planning
  • Performance Management – Process to review: Communications, data and analytics, metrics/dashboards, client satisfaction and cross-functional alignment

4. Evaluate current service delivery models: Make sure that the right people, processes and technologies are in place - Once you are confident that the law department is effectively supporting the company’s business, it is incumbent on you to make sure work is being done in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Benchmarking your department against your peers is a great way to gain an informed perspective. A people, process and technology review should also be part of this effort.

5. Don’t underestimate the challenges associated with change management - You may have taken this position because you were convinced that change is necessary, but your team may not agree or understand the bigger picture. Bringing others along in a measured way and turning at least some of them into champions will be a critical component of effective change management. Remember that everyone wants change, but not everyone wants to change.

6. Remember that “what gets measured gets done” - Your law department is a complex entity that creates a lot of data, and that data is the key to making informed decisions. Be sure you have reports that are simple to prepare and in a usable, clear and concise format that makes it easier – not harder – to reach decisions in real time. Utilize these reports for communicating “up and out” of the department, and synthesize them into a dashboard for regular reporting to the board and senior management. This is a great opportunity to show that you are running the law department like a business and to demonstrate the law department’s “value add” to the enterprise’s bottom line.

With this checklist in hand, you can start prioritizing your law department’s technology efforts and provide a baseline for continuous improvement as business needs change over time. Every business will be starting from a different point in their journey. If you would like help with your technology plan, please reach out to us for assistance in creating a bespoke operating model for this new digital environment.

Morae Legal specializes in unique, integrated technology management solutions that can be tailored for your organization and oriented around your goals, your priorities, your challenges and your environment. Reach out to us to understand how Morae Legal can help you maximize your investment in technology. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Teju has over twenty years of experience in the technology and legal outsourcing industries. She co-founded a disruptive legal outsourcing company and was responsible for strategy and building new lines of business, building and scaling the IT, training and development, project management and quality functions. She has significant experience in developing managed legal services solutions and has deep expertise in contracts lifecycle management solutions - from contract management technology evaluation and implementation to ongoing managed services. Prior to joining Morae Legal, Teju was at Intel Corporation, Sun Microsystems (Oracle) and most recently served as Co-Founder and Vice President at Mindcrest.


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