Modern legal teams are increasingly overstretched. Faced with too much work, legal departments have traditionally hired more lawyers or sought outside counsel. But what happens when spending more money isn’t an option? In a recent survey, over 50% of GCs reported that their legal departments’ budget and staffing had remained unchanged over the previous year, even as their workload and responsibilities had increased.
Put simply, the legal industry is increasingly defined by two major trends: the accelerating pace of business and the shrinking resources available to legal teams. Harvard Law School’s Professor David Wilkins has termed this the “global age of more for less.”
In this age, the legal departments that succeed will be the ones that are able to use their existing resources more efficiently. This comes down to using technology to improve the way legal departments process and manage their responsibilities from start to finish. From the moment your team receives a contracting request to the time your company concludes an engagement, here’s how you can use technology to work smarter and do more for less.
1. Triage and outsource your contract-related tasks so you can focus on legal work, not paperwork.
Some in-house legal teams pride themselves on doing everything, but this approach can backfire when teams are faced with too many low-level or routine tasks (e.g., generating or distributing contract templates). In a 2016 survey, lawyers cited spending too much time on administrative tasks as one of their most significant day-to-day challenges.
An easy way to reduce this type of work is by creating resources that your team’s internal clients can use on their own. Contracting playbooks and templates are a start, but they still leave room for error, especially if there’s no oversight of the finished product. Software that automates those playbooks for you is ideal, as it frees you to generate, revise, and execute common contracts with compliance and departmental approvals baked in. This is especially effective for low-hanging fruit, like NDAs and other high-volume, low-negotiation contracts.
Our workflow automation platform, Ironclad, filters out administrative work for your legal team by serving as a central contracting platform for your internal clients (e.g., contract generation, documentation, and approval). This layer of automation enables your team to do more for less and focus on higher-value work.
2. Save time: eliminate unnecessary emails and meetings during the contract negotiation process.
Of course, not all contracts are straightforward or easily automated. The traditional solution to managing complicated contracts has been brute force--countless meetings, protracted email chains, and late nights.
You can augment your legal team’s capabilities and avoid long email chains by centralizing and streamlining the contract preparation process in a software platform. Rather than emailing different versions of a contract back and forth, your legal team and internal clients can propose changes, redline documents, and accept or reject changes from a single source of truth.
The immediate benefit here is time saved, but the improvement in record-keeping might be even more important to the business. Email is a very messy office--don't use it to track contracts, if you can help it!
3. Measure your performance over time.
Process improvements are critical, but if you’re not measuring your progress against objective indicators, you can’t be sure if you're actually getting more done. Useful performance indicators include the average time spent processing a contract, average contracts executed per legal team member, and headcount relative to industry averages, though you can find plenty more here and here.
You could try picking a few indicators and measuring them manually, but you’d end up spending a significant time on data collection and review. By implementing software that captures relevant metadata automatically and in real time, you can stay on top of your team's performance and contribution to the business.
Ironclad puts legal teams in the driver’s seat, allowing lawyers to keep pace with business and demonstrate ROI. Ironclad, our contract management solution, combines proven software with a unique implementation model to multiply the resources at your disposal--even if you don’t hire a single new employee. Interested in learning more? Request a demo.