Like it or not, tech is the way of the future. Yes, even in legal ops.
Nearly 90% of legal professionals in a Bloomberg survey agree that legal tech is important, but a whopping 70% either don’t have a process in place to evaluate legal tech or are unsure if a process exists at their organization.
With so many legal tech options to choose from, it’s tough to know what features will make one platform more useful for your organization over another.
We’ll walk you through the 4 increasingly important questions you need to ask in order to pick the perfect enterprise legal management system for your organization’s needs in 2023. These questions will not only help you identify key features but will also help you choose a tool to future-proof your legal operations.
1. Are there educational resources to get my team up to speed?
Proper educational resources might not seem like the most important feature up front, but hear us out: access to educational materials means you can get your team up to speed quickly and get the most value out of your legal ops tech.
Plus, you don’t have to waste precious time creating training materials in-house.
At the very least, look for a tool that’s easy to implement and comes with a responsive and straightforward customer service representative so your team can learn the basics quickly and get answers to questions as they ramp up.
A legal tech tool that comes with a robust educational resource center also boosts worker productivity beyond onboarding. A recent APQC study shows that the average worker wastes about 10 hours a week looking for information or replicating information they believe doesn’t exist.
The learning resources from your tech provider can be combined with your own internal knowledge management strategy — so your team can access a robust library of resources to get the most out of your legal ops software.
When you want to train a new hire or upskill your current team, having handy resources nearby doesn’t just save you time, it also increases your ROI by improving the accuracy of legal ops reporting, optimizing your legal spend, and managing your relationships with outside counsel.
The features you need
You’ll want to invest in a platform that encourages continual learning so that you have access to resources beyond the initial onboarding process. This ensures that you can upskill workers, train new hires, and just brush up on topics anytime the need arises (even if that’s a year after onboarding).
Look for tools that offers robust self-guidance or a centralized learning center that offers any, or all, of the following:
- Articles and whitepapers to stay up to date with industry standards
- Templates for repetitive tasks and standard contract terms
- Datasheets to standardize processes across your organization
- Webinars to reskill and upskill staff across the organization
2. Can I easily track DE&I metrics?
Supporting a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace is finally becoming a top priority across the legal industry. Growth is slow but steady.
From 2020 to 2021, American Lawyer reported the greatest YoY increase in commitment to diversity among major law firms since 2001. And according to the MCCA’s 2021 Law Firm Diversity Survey, new hires from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds increased by 2.3% from 2019 to 2020.
Plus, Diversity Lab’s Mansfield Rule certification supports diversity in leadership by “shifting cultures and mindsets through data tracking, advancement process transparency, and considering a broad slate of 30-50% underrepresented talent for all leadership roles.” As of 2022, 270 U.S. and Canadian law firms and 75 legal departments are participating in the certification process.
Properly tracking metrics that support diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives ensures your organization is committed to not only build an inclusive workplace, but to improve practices and policies to benefit all levels of employees regardless of background.
The features you need
Commit your legal department to drive diversity and inclusion with your outside law firms by investing in a legal management tool that tracks and reports on DE&I metrics.
This feature can help support better hiring and promotion practices. You can use data to gauge their progress and make better-informed decisions based on real metrics rather than on instinct.
Make sure the tool you invest in not only has internal capabilities but also allows you to track metrics on outside vendors so you can see how diverse your vendors and outside counsel teams are.
3. How important is AI, anyway?
Quick answer: important. But let’s get into why.
According to Gartner, AI will become increasingly vital for in-house legal firms. By 2025, a whopping 100% of all contract life cycle management (CLM) tools will rely on AI to help with scanning content in contracts.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, can improve your team’s workflow, from auto-suggesting text to save time to scanning important documents for typos, incorrect information, and bad math on budget lines.
The trend toward AI leans toward “humans-in-the-loop” solutions, blending real human expertise with automated software. In short, AI frees up your legal team for complex tasks that need human attention and leaves the repetitive tasks to the bots.
Considering this, make sure the legal management system you invest in has AI capabilities. This way, you can make a smart investment for the future of your company, ensuring your legal tech doesn’t become outdated.
The features you need
At the very least, you need to invest in a tool that allows integrations with the apps you already use. If your legal tech can’t communicate with the rest of your tech stack, you’ll just create more work for your team in the long run. Invest in a tool that makes integrating with and adding to your existing processes easier.
AI is just another form of automation. So, if a tool uses AI, it’s probably capable of automating your most time-consuming processes, including:
- Contract management to help you quickly redline contracts and reduce delays in the approval process
- Legal spend analysis to help you quickly set up and enforce billing guidelines
- Vendor evaluations so you feel confident in your relationships with outside partners
At SimpleLegal, we recently announced SimpleReview, a human-in-the-loop AI solution for invoicing. This new feature uses machine learning and natural language processing to easily identify common billing errors.
The end result is invoices with fewer errors, quicker review times, and improved billing practices with your in-house team.
4. How can I keep my data secure?
These days, nearly every company deals with private data. That requires a tool with a strong commitment to data security that can also stay compliant with a wealth of new privacy laws.
According to IBM’s 2022 Cost of a Data Breach report, 83% of participating companies have faced more than one data breach, with a singular breach costing an average of $4.35 million. Companies that invest in a tool with the most up-to-date security features save upward of $3 million annually.
The answer is clear: investing in a tool with proper security features and up-to-date compliance regulations not only prevents catastrophe but can also save you money in the long run.
The features you need
Look for a tool that supports the most up-to-date practices and privacy laws when it comes to safeguarding your organization’s private data. At the very least, look for these features:
- Physical security measures like redundant power connectors, standby generators, and 24/7 video monitoring
- Application security measures like vulnerability scanning, firewalls, and multi-factor authentication
- Operational security measures like required security awareness training, regular compliance audits, and security updates
The easiest way to check on these security measures is to look for a tool that’s transparent with its security policy.
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