The legal industry is being rapidly reshaped with an ever-growing push within both law firms and in-house legal teams for technological change to help drive efficiency, productivity and more valuable service delivery. We are certainly seeing a widespread trend for in-house legal teams seeking to transform how they carry out and manage their work—characterised by the rise of legal operations as a discipline.
However, in today’s landscape, for in-house legal functions this desire to pursue such transformations must be balanced against a squeeze on costs and resources. GCs, in-house lawyers and legal operations professionals might find themselves wanting to optimise internal processes and embrace agile methodology but struggling to know where to start when it comes to technology, especially in an environment of ever-growing legal tech start-ups and point solutions.
Fear not—HighQ provides a platform that can help streamline legal departments and simplify the way they work. But how?
1. Create a single source of truth
Never underestimate the power of simply having a single repository where all the legal team’s know-how, data, files, tasks and activities are stored and managed. You may be one of a large number of organisations currently storing documents on local drives, commercial file hosting tools or in personal Outlook folders, or managing matters, intake, risk and contracts solely by using Microsoft Excel. Not only does this create ‘knowledge silos’ but it also impacts efficiency, transparency and productivity. It also hinders the legal team’s ability to give effective, comprehensive advice and mitigate risk.
HighQ’s Files module allows you to securely store, manage, compare, review, edit and sign all your documents using integrations with Microsoft Office, G Suite, Workshare and DocuSign to name a few. You can easily search for and see the latest version of a document or contract without having to trawl through your emails. If that wasn’t enough, it’s possible to share or receive documents securely with third parties such as panel firms and use social collaboration tools to work on them together. Sites, folders and files can be permissioned so that only those people who should have access, do have access; with digital rights management to add a further layer of protection.
With HighQ, it’s also possible to optimise your contract and document management and tackle more than one pain point at the same time by using the iSheets module in tandem with the Files module to seamlessly track and manage data relating to contract lifecycles and matter documents. Finally, you can also centralise legal department activity with agile task management and project calendars, as well as collaborate across teams with wikis and blogs.
2. Implement workflows
We are seeing that many in-house legal teams are currently tracking matters, projects, contracts and risk etc., as well as associated key dates and deadlines, by using a combination of Microsoft Excel and calendar reminders—which can get messy quickly, particularly when those programs don’t speak to each other. In-house lawyers just don’t have the time to manually manage their workload in this time consuming and, quite frankly, error-prone way. Progress on any given matter will be significantly delayed if not managed and tracked properly. By automating legal and business processes, HighQ can make managing workloads much simpler, more efficient and reduce the risk of tasks not being carried out or being performed incorrectly due to human error.
One example of how workflow automation can be put into practice using the HighQ platform is legal matter intake. The need to better leverage technology to streamline the legal intake process is clear from the results of Clyde & Co’s 2019 Looking Glass Report. Those GCs interviewed believed that 21% of their time per annum is spent on responding to internal legal requests.
Many of these requests are routine and low-risk, and are in the form of emails, text messages or even just verbal requests in person. By using an online matter intake form, legal departments can standardise this process and reduce email traffic—business users fill in this form which ensures they are submitting all the necessary data and documents to allow the legal team to action the requests. Dependent on the content of the request, workflow can trigger several associated actions, for example, notifications, automated document creation, a new task assigned to specific users or groups, status updates and even calendar events. The result is that rather than requests being received via different sources in piecemeal fashion, the legal team receive a comprehensive set of criteria in a single request, which can then be easily allocated, monitored, serviced and tracked with minimal manual intervention.
3. Automate document production
The recent Ernst & Young legal operations survey of over 1,000 senior legal practitioners from businesses around the world demonstrates that legal departments are spending “a considerable amount” of time and effort on routine or low-value tasks. Respondents indicated that more than a quarter of total hours were spent conducting such tasks.
It’s critical that legal departments find ways to free themselves from these types of tasks so they can focus on higher-value, strategic tasks. In-house legal functions can end up spending an inordinate amount of time drafting and producing simple documents such as employment contracts and NDAs.
With automated document assembly, you can empower your business with self-service tools and reduce response times—the user selects their desired document and by filling in a form (containing key fields such as party names, consideration, payment mechanics and dates etc.), that will then be used to dictate the structure and content of the generated document. This document automation process can then be incorporated into a workflow to smoothly track and manage the document from production through to review and then execution.
4. Use the HighQ AI Hub
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a major buzzword in the world of legal technology right now. But it’s less about the image of futuristic robots and more about how you can reduce rote and repetitive work—freeing up time to focus on more complex and valuable aspects of the legal team’s role within the organisation.
Instead of trainees or paralegals spending hours and hours sifting through large volumes of documents to categorise them and extract key terms and provisions, why not deploy HighQ’s AI Hub—whether alone or with integrated third-party tools such as Kira, Leverton and Eigen—to quickly review and analyse the contents of contracts. AI Hub can do the heavy lifting by sifting through documents at an impressive speed to identify preselected data-points of interest. This data will then be pulled back into HighQ so you can quickly and easily create workflows, data visualisations and more.
5. Make the most of data visualisation
We’ve all been there—at short notice, you’re asked to urgently collate and circulate reporting data. This may be a list of high-risk matters, IP renewals, contracts with a certain supplier or monthly employment claims. You end up frantically trying to find and collate the relevant information across numerous different documents, systems and Excel spreadsheets, then spend a disproportionate amount of time creating pivot tables and graphs in Excel.
Data visualisation is also a great way of clearly demonstrating the legal team’s contribution to the business. For example, you can create a chart to show how many new matters (both internal and external) the team dealt with in the past month, quarter or even year and the output too. Business stakeholders including the C-Suite will truly start to recognise the value and impact of the legal function as opposed to just seeing it as a cost centre.