Ten ways to transform your legal department

Mitratech’s chief executive Jason Parkman has published a comprehensive ‘10-steps guide’ for corporate legal departments that he promises will “transform your legal department from a company cost center into the best-run business unit in the organization.”

Corporate counsel are increasingly looking to embrace technology, generate revenue, and manage their risk exposure and brand, particularly in the face of the rise of internet exposure and social media.

Enterprise legal management solutions provider Mitratech works with many global corporate legal and compliance teams and Parkman’s advice is to: visualise and measure success; hire a director of legal operations; embrace innovations in the legal services model; think globally; create a legal technology roadmap through collaboration with IT; unify your software solutions to create a single source of data truth; leverage data to optimise resource selection; train your legal staff to better understand the business; collaborate effectively with internal business partners; and let lawyers be lawyers.

Without recapping the entire white paper – albeit it is good – here are a few of the highlights:

Visualise and measure what success looks like

Creating a vision of success means deciding which metrics should be captured and developing a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to drive that vision. “KPIs should be measured daily, weekly, monthly, and annually to decide what is working and what is not. Any learning process will have its pitfalls — however, this process continues to push the bar higher with each self-assessment,” Parkman says.

He adds: “As the need to prove value to stakeholders increases, the use of detailed analytics is gaining momentum in many industries. Reports generated from a matter management platform solution provide great visibility into outside counsel costs, distribution of workloads across the team, access to trends across matter types or subjects, and virtually any other piece of data that your reporting system can generate. To truly capture how these figures can create a strategy for your legal department moving forward, the use of a data analysis solution partnered with a dedicated business analyst is imperative.”

Hire a director of legal operations focused on operational excellence

Hiring a director of operations has been a ‘game changer’ for Connie Brenton, director of legal operations at NetApp, who says: “In-house departments are adding executives to their leadership teams who understand and are trained in business, technology, and the law. That’s a powerful trifecta that more and more general counsel are leveraging to their benefit.”

Embrace innovations in the legal services model

While in-house legal departments have traditionally been slow to adopt new technology, Parkman points to Hyperion Research’s 2015 benchmarking of Global 1000 legal operations management, which reveals that 87% of corporate law departments have engaged in significant transformation projects in the last two years alone.

While the focus areas includes “the usual suspects” – such as improving spend management – increasingly they are more progressive such as process automation through to the truly innovative, such as rebalancing the mix of legal department resources and legal decision support intelligence systems.

Create a legal technology roadmap

Mitratech often works with companies that want to become more strategic in their use of technology but Parkman says: “Without a systems roadmap in place many legal departments find themselves working in a cycle of short-term needs, thus never accomplishing their long-term goals.

“In order to structure communication between the IT department and legal operations, a technology roadmap is designed to act strategically when making an investment decision.

“The roadmap can also act as a project manager for technology needs as they arise, justify a budget to secure buy-in from leadership, encourage a high adoption rate with users, and create a systems landscape that makes sense to the company’s overall goal.”

Unify your software to create a single source of data truth

With a focus on promoting Mitratech’s own eCounsel offering, Parkman says: “A fully integrated system that combines e-Billing with matter management can serve as the hub of activity for the legal department. With a streamlined systems landscape, a team can create a single source of truth to optimize legal spend, find greater productivity with ease of process, and increase collaboration with outside counsel when necessary.”

You can download the white paper here