What Now? The Next Phase of Legal Business in a Post-Pandemic World

By Judi Crimmins

Our world has dramatically changed in the last few months, and the legal industry has had to adapt more quickly than it has ever had to do before. But while some changes are violent interruptions to everyday life, others present unique opportunities to gather insights and shift the paradigm in which we operate.

While the scale of the economic decline caused by the pandemic is yet to be fully understood, its severity is demonstrated by the extreme uncertainty as to how or when it will end. As legal teams navigate the new normal, corporate leadership is increasingly shifting expectations of its legal department to do more with less.

GCs, CLOs and other leaders have to deal with a returning workforce affected in a multitude of ways, and this makes it more important than ever to reevaluate department fundamentals and identify opportunities for innovation.

The Unique Challenges of Legal Labor Allocation

Bluntly put, legal departments are not immune to the headcount and growth constraints currently imposed on most functions within an organization.

Adapting to the new normal calls for a new way of thinking about resource allocation and resource utilization. While hiring additional legal employees provides the most predictable quality and allows a department to maintain control of work in-house, it might be difficult to justify the additional headcount and hefty price tag in an era of tightening budgets. Moreover, when looking to outsource their legal work, companies have many choices that provide rapid time-to-value services, which are often cheaper than hiring additional staff.

However, the risk is lower control and questions about quality of service.

It’s clear that simply shuffling dollars and tasks among people working within the legal department or to those outside of it isn’t moving the needle when it comes to delivering the same quality of legal services under greater financial oversight.

A Smarter Service Delivery Model

Fortunately, solutions exist that can be rapidly implemented at scale and speed. When used smartly, legal technology has a potent role to play in shaping a modern operating model for the department.

AI and automation solutions bring the benefits of slashing costs while increasing the speed and accuracy of core legal functions. An additional benefit is that LegalTech keeps high-value legal work in-house. Senior lawyers have more direct control, continue to grow their institutional knowledge, and have customization options over the performance and quality of services delivered to the business.

Using an AI-powered LegalTech solution to perform time-consuming tasks is the smartest path to gaining more insight into the way the legal department operates. And with more time and insight available, legal departments can operate as strategic business partners and improve organizational competitiveness.

The Next Phase of Legal Leadership

There’s a reason people often resist change; there’s a comfort in what we know. But the greatest organizational inertia comes from the failure to adapt. Without recourse to new knowledge, new experiences, and the exceptional opportunities they unlock we run the risk of succumbing to stagnation.

Bold leadership requires vision. It requires the courage to move outside of the transactional space and into a transformational place that focuses on effective strategies for growth. With that in mind, does it make sense to outsource high-value legal work to outside counsel during a downturn? What about developing cost effective and sustainable in-house resources to handle it?

What’s the best way to allocate rote legal work? Do external, third-party ALSPs make sense, or are there other solutions that can keep such work in-house?

These are just some of the questions that Tech-Enabled Insourcing For A Post-Pandemic World touches on. The new eBook by LawGeex provides an outline of the forces pushing legal departments worldwide to reposition themselves as strategic business partners, and gives practical tips and guidance on how to achieve this by providing a smarter service delivery model.

The next phase of legal business calls for a transformation of the way legal works. Adapting core business functions while driving innovation for durable, breakthrough results might be the biggest leadership imperative yet.

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Judi Crimmins is a regulatory compliance specialist and the Director of Global Marketing at LawGeex. Previous companies include BSI Group and British Water. Judi holds a Master of Laws (LLM) from the University of London. Connect with her on LinkedIn.