Legal Technology Solutions – Is Your Team Fit For Purpose? Part 1
Halebury’s Richard Dalby discusses legal technology solutions for in-house legal teams in part one of this two part-series.
In the first two weeks of my in-house career I had a telephone thrown at my head.
That was 25 years ago now but the memory is still raw.
I shared an office with a long-serving company secretary who dictated hundreds, literally hundreds, of letters onto his audio dictating machine. Hour after hour I listened to the sound of his voice before deciding that he would like to know that he was dictating the same letter over and over again.
In hindsight the look he gave me was probably not an invitation to continue but, undaunted, I went on to say that if he created a couple of templates and gave his secretary his address book he could, basically, put his feet up.
He went vermillion, frothed a bit and, well, hence the telephone.
My point, of course, is that people do not always embrace change, and lawyers, by their nature, tend to be cautious adopters. In-house legal teams are constantly seeking ways to improve effectiveness and efficiency in the way they deliver legal services to the business and one of the ways to achieve this is by the adoption and effective implementation of appropriate technological solutions.
This is an introductory guide from to some of the current offerings.
Contract Management Software
What is it? Contract management software (“CMS”) is a programme or series of related programmes for storing and managing legal agreements throughout their lifecycle. An important purpose of contract management software is to streamline administrative tasks and reduce overhead by providing a single, unified view of each contract’s processes. A suitable contract management system can offer a raft of process improvements including full document automation and the concept of business self-service, so that standard contracts can be filled out by the business users themselves saving time and leaving the legal team free to concentrate on value-adding strategic work.
What are the benefits? It has been estimated by the IACCM (the International Association for Contract and Commercial Management) that a CMS can accelerate the negotiation process by some 50 per cent, and reduce operating and processing costs by 10-30 per cent. Even taken with a pinch of salt these figures are noteworthy and a system properly implemented will pay back its cost many times over. As well as cutting costs a good CMS will help to optimise contracts and yield maximum financial and other benefits from them as well as helping to minimise risk and the exposure of the business.
Most solutions will offer a comprehensive and fully searchable contract repository for current and new contracts. Legacy agreements can also be imported, usually at additional cost.
As well as automating contract authoring and assisting the negotiation process CMS will integrate with other internal and external systems such as those governing invoicing and sales information.
In addition many solutions offer hugely powerful reporting and analytical capabilities that can be personalised for individual users.
Finally the system will incorporate alert notifications and reminders for critical dates going forward.
What are they? Electronic invoicing (or e-billing) is one of the fastest growing trends in the client/law firm commercial relationship. It enables companies to receive, review and approve their legal invoices electronically. Its workflow and integration capabilities let companies automate existing review and approval processes while gathering critical data for generating management reports and checking accuracy and appropriateness of charges. Using technology to examine invoices for outsourced legal work allows in-house teams to account directly for their outsourcing budget and make cost savings where it is clear that value for money is not being achieved. Full legal e-billing requires the production of a bill in a particularly detailed format (usually one of the LEDES formats) so introducing the practice needs to be done in collaboration with the legal services provider.
What are the benefits? Streamlines the entire legal invoicing process, increases accountability of legal service providers, delivers in-depth law firm performance metrics, improves decision making and risk management; and reduces unnecessary costs.
What is it? An electronic signature, or e-signature, refers to data in electronic form, which is logically associated with other data in electronic form and which is used by the signatory to sign. This type of signature provides the same legal standing as a handwritten signature as long as it adheres to the requirements of the specific regulatory environment under which it was created.
What are the benefits? It’s simpler, faster and can be accessed and used from any mobile or hand-held device. It is also generally thought to be more secure because it contains more information about the person signing.
In Part 2 I will be looking at collaborative software tools, modern methods of outsourcing legal work as well as a bit of future gazing into Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain technology.
Richard Dalby is a senior consultant at Halebury and specialises in new technology and legal operational matters.
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