Despite the variety of innovative legal technology available today, many in-house legal departments simply are not investing in these developments. Indeed, these legal departments often use just one or two types of widely-used legal technology. While more than half of legal departments in a recent survey use e-billing and document management systems, less common types of legal department technology include subsidiary and entity management, IP management, contract management, and matter management.
Not surprisingly, considering this limited adoption of technology, a number of legal departments surveyed expressed concern that their technology systems did not meet their legal department’s goals for cost reduction and quality improvement. Departments hesitated to use new technology because of difficulty evaluating technology products, concerns about data quality, access and security, and whether employees could adapt to the new technology.
There are ways to mitigate these concerns and achieve more in less time in a modern legal operations world.
First, involve the actual users. Review workflows to assess where investment would most benefit the legal department. Companies that involve users in technology selection and implementation generally are more satisfied with their results than companies that do not listen to employees’ ideas and incorporate their feedback.
Tools like employee surveys, focus groups, and brainstorming sessions will help isolate the key problems the technology system can solve. Employee buy-in will also start the process for adapting to new technology.
Second, consider a pilot project or trial run. Once the company has selected a new technology, a test trial is essential. A “test and learn” approach can help the in-house department understand the capabilities of the software in a real-world setting. A trial run could be based on a certain case or project, or it could last for a certain period of time, such as a month or two.
After the pilot project is over, the department can determine whether the technology system will move the department toward its goals and what changes would need to be made, if any, in the implementation stage.
Third, consider standardizing certain processes to take full advantage of software. Using new software often requires some standardization of a legal department’s in-house processes. Standardizing takes time.
An in-house department would need to standardize how everyone bills time, or how and what people save in various folders on servers or a cloud. In some cases, it may stop a project momentarily. Using vendors to manage the standardization can help minimize disruption, however.
For more information on how to modernize your in-house legal department, contact us today.