How does technology fit into the answer
It is very easy to fall for a good sales or marketing line. We have all done it. We have bought something we probably didn’t really need. However, when you are purchasing on behalf of your business, careful consideration is needed before you spend a significant portion of your budget on a technology solution. Mistakes can be costly and you will have to live with them for many years to come.
The focus of most GCs is on managing risk for your business. Many have little experience of, or training on, implementing sophisticated business delivery programmes and technology, whereas Legal Operations practitioners, whether as part of the legal function or consultants, have both the expertise and skillset to support GCs and in-house teams as they navigate through such a process.
Technology alone is never the solution. You first need to take a step back and consider the root and the scope of the problem you are trying to solve, then map out a possible solution, including detailing any process around the identified problem and considering how this fits into the business ecosystem as well as the legal department’s strategy and objectives. Buying tech without fully considering the problem could well create more issues, instead of solving them. It is critical before embarking on any tech project to ensure it will be accretive to delivering your strategy.
This is where Legal Operations can help. By understanding your company’s strategy and long term goals, Legal Operations, either as full time employees of the legal function or Consultants, are able to demonstrate how your Legal department can be integrated to support and drive your organisation forward. This approach can also help you to manage the resulting demand on the delivery of legal services.
The Maturity Roadmap (above) outlines the various components a Legal department needs to consider to deliver your company’s strategy. Most Legal departments will be at different levels of maturity – excelling in some areas, but perhaps not others. First, you need to identify where you are currently, but more importantly, where you want to get to. An important foundation step is to develop a tailored roadmap to do this.
Once you have (i) scoped and mapped out the underlying problem(s) and (ii) ensured it will add value to the delivery of your strategy, you can then start identifying solutions and consider whether it will maximise the effectiveness of the investment. Getting the basics right enables you to reap the rewards technology-enabled solutions can bring.
Scoping your requirements will require detailed analysis. The insight should be based on hard data – don’t fall prey to the ‘he who shouts loudest’ person in the organisation. The whole process can be mapped out in granular detail, highlighting the benefits with each step.
Technology can accelerate the solution. As you can see in the Maturity Roadmap, technology is part of the foundation. Indeed the benefits it can bring are many and include accessing and capturing data in a structured way to provide you with new insights that you can use for reporting to the wider business as well as efficiency gains.
Some of the failures I have seen stem from a piecemeal approach to technology which results in budget overspend, and sub-optimal tools which require more effort to encourage adoption. Other failures result from a selection of technology which cannot be integrated internally, let alone with your external legal partners.
Make sure you know where you want to get to. Then be wary when navigating the legal tech landscape – it is a crowded space. Indeed the recent pandemic may add even more complexities as some tech providers will come back stronger while others may not survive at all. Once you have your roadmap, do your research on providers and seek advice from your network or a tech-agnostic consultant. He / she will help you look after your best interests.
About the author
Head of Legal Operations Consulting
Norton Rose Fulbright
Tel +44 20 7444 3899
Stephanie Hamon is the Head of Legal Operations Consulting at Norton Rose Fulbright and a former Managing Director, Head of External Engagement, Legal for Barclays. She has extensive experience of setting and delivering commercial and business management strategies for in-house legal departments. Stéphanie Hamon led the Barclays team that was named “Legal operations team of the year” at the 2019 UK Legal 500 Awards.
She also developed new model for Barclays’ law firm panel and relationship model. Stephanie brings with her more than 19 years’ experience gained working across an extensive range of legal and financial institutions, in markets including the UK, Continental Europe and Asia Pacific.
Stephanie has extensive expertise in business development, strategy formulation and execution and client-focused relationship management all of which provides a perfect skill set for leading this new practice, which will offer the following core services:
- Strategic legal consulting – advising in-house legal teams on how they can support the wider objectives of the business, and helping to set priorities and a practical vision for programs and initiatives that would support this.
- Legal operations advisory – advising on management of legal operations functions, including best practice legal project management.
- Legal operations delivery – assisting in the delivery of specific projects or mandates made up of work likely to be delivered with the involvement of, or at the request of, a legal operations team.