10 seismic changes forcing in-house counsel to choose LegalTech

Legal technology, commonly known as LegalTech, refers to software enabling lawyers to do their jobs more efficiently and cost-effectively. The In-House Counsel’s Legal Tech Buyer’s Guide shows how in-house counsel are driving change. Based on interviews with lawyers at some of the world’s leading companies, here are 10 seismic changes forcing in-house counsel to choose LegalTech.

1. The More For Less Challenge

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Cost savings are a major factor driving any LegalTech adoption. Pearson’s former Associate General Counsel, Vicky Lockie reduced legal spend by 20% simply by using eBilling solution, Legal Tracker. Jolie Lin, Deputy GC of Bank of Montreal, also interviewed for the guide, says adoption of another eBilling platform, Tymetrix “achieved significant market savings year after year.” Lin adds: “This is providing a much clearer idea on where our legal spend is going and producing better conversations with law firms.”

Recipients of the ACC Value Challenge 2017 also slashed costs, underpinned by technology. Cam Findlay, GC, at Archers Daniel Midland reduced outside legal spend reduced by one-third. Avis GC Michael Tucker slashed costs by 30%, while Cabela’s Brad Lundeen brought down outside counsel litigation costs by 20 percent.

2. The 24-Hour law department 

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The 24-Hour Law Department has been created by a seismic shift towards cloud computing—37 per cent of in-house lawyers are using the cloud, up from 30 percent in 2015. This 24-hour approach and ability to access services anywhere in the world and on any device, applies to everything from drafting to research, to contract review, and other daily high-volume tasks.

Expertise Automation platform, Neota Logic, for instance diffuses existing legal knowledge, and codifies expert advice, making it available cross-departmentally 24 hours a day. This makes it easier to access quick advice—on issues from bribery and corruption policy to employment law.

In contract drafting, Seth Weissman VP and GC of SolarCity says of Contract Express: “Sales can create a contract at one in the morning, one in the afternoon or on a weekend, whenever they want. You don’t have to go through my department, and we will never slow you down”. Jordan Furlong, author of Law Is a Buyer’s Market says “If its 11pm on a Saturday night and you need access to some kind of legal solution engine, you will not find a law firm in the world that’s going to help you out. Technology has stepped in to make this possible.”

3. In-House lawyers need their time back  

Roberto Facundus SVP, Legal & Business Affairs at Tongal says: “Any legal tech that saves an attorney time through increased efficiency is inherently valuable and attorneys—more than almost any profession—know the value of time.” Technology offers an end to many time (and morale) draining pursuits. Dylan Marvin Head of Legal at Brandwatch using contract review automation platform, LawGeex, has achieved “80% time saved, and 90% cost saving when compared to other solutions.” On a different scale, ($2 pay as you go digital signature platform) ESign Genie promises to decrease the number of “clicks” by 30 to 50%. In contract due diligence, Kira System clients report time savings of 20–40% for first-time users, and up to 60% thereafter.  LegalTech allows lawyers to focus on more strategic use of their time.

4.  Tech is the ticket to the C-Suite

Entrance to the C-suite now requires using technology to demonstrate efficiencies, according to the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Global Census. Justine Campbell, Deputy General Counsel of Centrica oversaw a 24 month plan covering culture, technology, value management and operations, demonstrating themselves as “an integral part of the business.“ Campbell says: “The more technology can do the basic legal work the more you realize that actually what you have to do is be a leader who can establish and motivate a great team, who can look strategically into the future and exercise judgement over what really matters.”  Recent research shows  that within the next three years, 60 percent of GCs expect to take on a strategic business role.

5. Data (In-House counsel are losing out not having it)

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NetApp GC Matt Fawcett is one innovator who recognized the need for data in law departments earlier than most. “I value data and embrace its use” says Fawcett. “I lead my team, serve my customers, and develop my organization with data.” Molly Perry, chief operating officer for the Office of the General Counsel at HPE says legal tools are “a source of millions of data points.”  She argues that, while attorneys completing more tasks may seem more productive, they may be working on lower value projects, as revealed by better use of data. Many companies point inevitably to a future where legal data will be the most reliable forecast of the next three months of sales in an organization.

6. Tech-driven GCs are leading the way

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Many in-house lawyers occupy senior positions at companies, such as Google, Uber, Facebook, and Amazon (and any number of companies looking to reinvent their industries). Companies increasingly expect their in-house counsel to do the same. Maurice Woolf, GC & EVP Corporate Support at global cloud services platform, Interoute, says: “I think if you work in an environment driven by innovation then naturally as GC you will look to innovate too, irrespective of your age, prior experience or prejudices.”

In a TechCrunch article based on interviews with Silicon Valley GCs (including Foursquare, Meetup, Etsy and Kickstarter),  Daniel Doktori, Chief of Staff and GC at Credly and  co-founder of the Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project says old attitudes will not fly with seismic shifts underway. Being perceived as the “no guy” ranks among a startup general counsel’s top fears. “You don’t want to be the guy at the end of the hall that just says ‘no,’ because eventually people don’t incorporate you into the conversation.”

7. Tech needed to recruit and retain legal talent (including millennials)

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The millennial lawyer grew up in the digital age, with technology. They think nothing of creating an account on a tech platform to solve a problem.  PwC finds that “with technology dominating every aspect of millennials lives, it’s perhaps not surprising that 41% say they prefer to communicate electronically at work than face to face or even over the telephone. Millennials routinely make use of their own technology at work and three-quarters believe that access to technology makes them more effective at work.”  The report concludes unstructured approach to technology is often a “catalyst for inter-generational conflict in the workplace and many millennials feel held back by rigid or outdated working styles.”

8. Company lawyers see “business problems” (not “legal” problems) 

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Lawyers in a company have a responsibility to put the business first and new technology is helping this mission. David Cambria, at Archers Daniel Midland, says: “An in-house legal department must operate like a business and spend shareholders’ money wisely.” His team opted for contract management solution Onit, in his words, “as an accelerator” to this vision.” Sales teams are driving adoption of legal technology such as LawGeex for automated contract review (unsurprisingly when research shows the majority of in-house legal departments at small and midsized companies spend 50% of their time reviewing contracts). Technology is appealing to the business instinct encapsulated by Uber Chief Legal Officer Salle Yoo. She says: “I always tell my team, we are not here to solve legal problems, we are here to solve business problems. The law is our tool and it’s the specialty tool we have.”

9) GCS are embracing KPIs (key performance indicators)

Law Departments acting like other departments must embrace personal and business goals. Kerry Phillip, legal director at Vodafone Group Enterprise team, commented: “Traditionally, the legal team is pretty low down the pecking order when it comes to IT investment but because we presented a business case that showed the investment paid for itself within the first year, we were able to get it approved”. Tech is at the forefront of measuring and analyzing KPIs.

LegalTech is helping analyze the cost of internal versus external support (money saved by doing work internally), legal response times, and promoting faster contract turnaround times.

10) Raising in-house standing and commerciality of legal 

LegalTech has a number of added benefits, not least raising in-house counsel standing. This is being done through enhancing collaboration with colleagues, reducing risk, and enhancing legal commerciality. Here tech is tailored to empathizing with business needs, whether bringing down time and costs on daily responses or sales cycles. Most of the software featured in our guide also integrates with existing processes in a business – such as use of Slack or Salesforce. This makes the law department show it is not sitting back, but can set a standard for collaboration and slickness level with, or higher, than any other department.

Download the full guide now to see the best LegalTech for in-house lawyers today

Download the FREE legal technology buyer’s guide for In-House Counsel and discover:

Legal Tech Buyer's Guide
  • 60+ page practical and jargon-free reference guide
  • 100+ top technology solutions for legal departments
  • Personal recommendations and stories from dozens of in-house lawyers and legal experts
  • Explanations of an in-house legaltech buying journey, including barriers to adoption, establishing and monitoring KPIs, and more

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Jonathan Marciano, Communications Director at LawGeex, is  originally from London. He is  currently in Tel Aviv,  helping to bring about the legal revolution, one press release at a time. Follow him on Twitter. @J_Marciano

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