The rules of corporate legal services delivery are changing. Technology, alternative legal services providers and the drive towards operational efficiency is disrupting legal services delivery, especially for corporate legal departments, who are under immense pressure to modernise and “do more with less”. Globally, corporate legal departments are assuming more work internally and increasing their role within the organisation and are on a drive to seeking innovative ways to mitigate legal risk whilst supporting business.
Legal Management Consulting and the implementation of new legal operating models across the people, process, technology and data spectrum provides corporate legal departments with an opportunity to transform the way legal services are delivered to meet the new needs of the industry.
Corporate legal departments are under pressure to develop new strategies, aimed at becoming more proactive and less reactive, focusing on long-term transformation in order to demonstrate value and enable the organisations overall strategic imperatives.
A key foundation to any transformational question is the operating model implemented to meet your needs and your chosen strategy. These operating models specify how legal operations are organised to deliver legal services in their respective businesses. Important questions that need to be considered include aspects such as your people and capabilities (specialist versus generalist), legal risk management, efficient processes, in-sourcing or out-sourcing, centralise or decentralise and even off-shore and on-shore.
One of the easier aspects for transformation of corporate legal departments and which has demonstrated both costs and efficiency benefits can be highlighted through your organisations sourcing strategy. How do you as an organisation, make and buy legal services? Have you identified areas that should specifically be in-sourced or out-sourced? Is your organisation considering using alternative service providers and technology, which services are often considerably cheaper than the traditional law firms are, and rely on building economies of scale in ‘high volume, low value’ legal tasks to deliver value. Has your organisation conducted any legal spend analytics, helping you to identify the real value you are receiving from your service providers?
No discussion on the future of corporate legal services delivery would be complete without the current buzzword “technology” being included. Technology can assist corporate legal departments to reduce the costs associated with routine requirements, increasing quality and consistency, managing the department’s workloads and workflows, managing contract and compliance requirements and overall assisting with the management of the organisation’s risks. This does not mean that technology will replace human lawyers, but it will support and assist in the delivery of effective legal services. In addition, the decision around technology should only be made in the context of a full analysis of the target operating model as technology is seldom the “silver bullet” solution to any problem.
The best use cases for legal technology include areas of your organisation such as knowledge and document management, contract lifecycle management and document review, abstraction and automation tools. All of these areas provide a wealth of data. Technology will further facilitate the organisations ability to access and leverage data that would again assist in process improvement and overall risk management. What risks or losses is your organisation exposed to because they just do not have access to data? Which could provide insights and solutions?
No corporate legal department transformation could be complete without considering your most important resources, your people. Are you including roles such as legal operations, legal project management, legal procurement and legal technology? All of these skills are becoming indispensable in the transformed corporate legal department, aimed at delivering better value to all stakeholders. Just don’t forget to consider how you are going to manage change, and obtain buy-in from lawyers, who, are traditionally conservative and resistant to change, to meet the challenges posed by legal department transformation.
These insights give a helicopter view of the main considerations facing corporate legal departments today. Deloitte’s Legal Management Consulting specialists aim to put in place practical tools to help in-house lawyers build greater value into their services.
About the Author
Candice Holland has 14 years’ experience as a lawyer and is a Director at Deloitte Legal. She leads a team of 30 lawyers who provide innovative and technology-led legal and regulatory solutions. She has provided services to 3 of the big 4 banks in South Africa and has significant experience in the FSI, telecommunications and consumer goods industries.