How to make the best use of technology: In-house World Café 2017

How can you make best use of new and existing technology? What are the best practices for adopting technology? On 28th June 2017, senior in-house lawyers gathered to discuss these questions at the In-house World Café event held by LexisNexis in partnership with Gowling WLG and C&I Group.

The event was chaired by Sophie Gould (Head of LexisPSL In-house), along with Janet Day (Consultant, LexisNexis Enterprise Solutions) and Derek Southall (Head of Innovation and Digital, Gowling WLG).

Key in-house technology trends

The event opened with a discussion of the trends impacting in-house:

  • Proliferation of work: legal teams are better able to build a business case for technology.
  • Services have become easier to implement without involving IT.
  • Technology suppliers are acknowledging in-house legal as a market and creating more solutions.
  • Technology facilitating global communication.
  • Using technology to collaborate with law firms is increasingly important.

If money were no object, what technology would you like to support the work done by the legal team?

The discussion highlighted a technology wish-list for making processes more efficient:

  • Data analysis tools
  • Document/matter management and document automation
  • Digital signatures
  • Using technology to enable the business to self-serve.

One problem with technology is that it can lead to the creation of a large quantity of indigestible data. To be manageable, data needs to be in a scalable form and accessible in real time. However, sometimes it isn’t the amount of data that is the problem, but knowing what to do with it. The human element can very easily unwittingly sabotage even perfect technology!

What technology would you like your law firms to be using and sharing?

The consensus from attendees was that law firms don’t use technology for the benefit of their clients. However, they are waking up to the value of a collaborative environment.

Where there is a greater union between law firms and in-house, the result is a better service. Law firms should be able to tailor their systems so that they can share relevant, usable information. If technology is designed internally for the law firm’s own needs, it contributes to a lack of transparency, whether it be costs, data or reports. Conducting a technology audit to find out what the in-house team and the law firm both use (or potentially can use) is one way of making collaboration more efficient.

How can you get buy-in from the organisation to implement technology to support the legal team?

Providing data to show the efficiency and cost saving benefits of technology is essential for driving a business case forward. Selling the benefits should focus on:

  • Improved risk management
  • Increased efficiency
  • Reduced costs
  • Benefits to the whole business not just the legal team
  • Metrics and ROI analysis to demonstrate the value of the legal team’s work.

The challenge is also implementing change. New technology requires people to respond positively and accept different ways of working. It is important to start small and make incremental improvements when getting buy-in from the business.

Technology isn’t always the answer – what else would help your team become more effective?

  • Activity analysis breaks down the tasks of the team and provides a clear view of the different components. Thinking intelligently about how work is done ensures the most effective strategies are implemented. It is about the legal team understanding what they are trying to do and what it is that the business wants them to deliver.
  • Good systems need to be in place to ensure work is allocated appropriately. People often favour individual lawyers and go to them directly even though they are not the best person. Using the right person for the right job ensures tasks are completed with the best results.
  • Lawyers approach work differently - some spend a lot of time on detail and work less efficiently. Having consistent standards can prevent this but requires a decision on what level of risk is acceptable. Should the team provide quick answers that are 80% right or should they make the business wait longer for perfect work?

Conclusion

The World Café provided excellent insights into how making the best use of technology is core to running an efficient in-house legal team. The team need to input into design and implementation, however technology should be owned by the business as a whole. After all, it is the business as a whole that will reap the rewards.

Read a full summary of the In-House World Café event here.

[thumbnail target="_self" src="http://lexisnexis.blogs.local.com/inhouse/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2017/08/Lexis-Jun-17-small.jpg"]

 

During the event a graphic artist also captured the key points debated to produce a striking, visual interpretation of the discussion. View the full-size image here.

 

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