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The past year has brought a huge increase in technology adoption for lawyers, and remote working has become familiar. These changes have made it easier to see the potential for technology and innovation to change legal practice, and the discipline of knowledge management (KM) is more relevant now than ever before. A deliberate and organised approach to knowledge creation, capture and use is critical to achieving competitive advantage. Below, we predict what lies ahead for legal knowledge management in 2021.
The contract lifecycle is a key area where legal teams can use knowledge management to make a difference to enterprise costs and even boost the bottom line. Better contract management can unblock processes and allow sales teams to conclude agreements faster and more efficiently, with better understanding of risks.
The information within contracts is also one of an enterprise’s most important data sets. Contracts are the DNA of an organisation: their provisions are fundamental to enterprise risk and value. In 2020, there was an increased shift away from the traditional print-sign-scan approach to contracting, with many businesses using electronic signature platforms. Building on this, in-house legal teams may focus on capturing data in a more structured way when contracts are created. This will permit faster and more decentralised access to core terms relevant to risk, as well as operational terms such as contract renewal dates. Contract management systems can also support more efficient process, for example tracking the average length of time which teams spend negotiating particular clauses and permitting that information to feed back into the legal team’s decisions regarding contract template drafting.
A greater choice of automation and contract management systems will further allow businesses to create no-code and low-code contract templates more easily, providing secure document storage and commercially relevant analytics.
In 2020, legal teams dealt with a rapid shift to remote working. New challenges are ahead, as businesses find new ways of combining on-site
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Lisa McClory is a legal knowledge management consultant. She has practised as a solicitor and Professional Support Lawyer at Slaughter and May and has worked as a Legal Knowledge Consultant at KPMG Law. She has founded Fractal Legal, an independent legal knowledge consultancy, offering support to in-house teams and law firms on lawtech and knowledge innovation.
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