This is the second in my blog series on the current state of the legal tech landscapr in Financial Services. You can read Blog 1 here. This week I’m diving into the hot-topic issue of how to manage demand in legal teams which are increasingly being asked to do more with less. Through necessity, legal teams are having to become more efficient and deploy their finite resources more carefully and strategically.
KYD – KNOW YOUR DEMAND. THEN MANAGE IT.
As one multinational’s GC put it to me recently, the fundamental problem prior to automation was the issue of unconstrained demand.
“We don’t operate a chargeback model or anything like that. So basically, it’s an all you can eat buffet, you come to the legal team, we provide the service!”
They had to try and find a way, without reducing service levels, to take back control of that demand, and help their legal teams cope by triaging incoming requests from their business areas. Using a portal seemed the obvious way to do that for a firm operating across international geographies, in different timezones and in multiple languages.
So they built a legal front door to collect business requests for legal support, and then they began to introduce elements of triage. In doing so they were able to build out customer journeys with a supporting playbook so that they could direct people to self-serve or to specific guidance. In turn, this enabled the legal and compliance professionals to focus on the matters of highest value and highest risk.
Legal tech, be that document automation, matter management, or creating a legal front door like in this example, was once seen as innovative and really out there. I’m pleased to say increasingly all three are becoming business as usual and more mainstream.
MANAGING SCARCE RESOURCES
When I’m speaking to in-house colleagues these days, I’m often suggesting that they have a proper think about what they are doing in their teams today to support their business colleagues. Is the work they are doing the provision of legal advice and/or the management of legal risk? Or is there an element of processing activity in what they are doing?
Quite often, especially in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the in-house legal team ends up as the default home for non-legal activity and process. This is because legal teams are trusted partners and very good at getting stuff done!
By identifying this work, in-house teams are finding candidates and business cases for digitisation and automation.
WHERE IS YOUR MONEY GOING?
Optimising external legal spend is also just around the corner. It’s fair to say most large corporates have probably held off reviewing their panels mid-pandemic, but the requirement to slash external legal spend is very real. I’ve heard huge numbers being quoted by management teams. And law firms need to ready themselves.
The pandemic has revealed that a virtual team, both client-side and law-firm-side, can manage effectively. The idea that plush offices in every major capital, ultimately funded by clients, will still be commonplace at the end of the next decade seems unlikely now. Also, innovative reverse auction platforms on the client side, and lawyer time-calculation platforms on the law-firm side are demonstrating that value for money, accurate forecasting, billing and performance metrics are going to be key in the foreseeable future.
It strikes me that in the current climate it is much better to be the one that is suggesting the efficiency and leading the change, than waiting to be impacted by it…
Next time I’ll be looking at the impact of regulation, the emergence of reg tech and how legal teams can get started on their tech journeys. If you’d like to discuss your legal tech needs, please contact me using the form on this page or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon has over 20 years’ experience in financial services and has delivered matter management, CLM and doc automation programmes at SYKE using a wide range of technology solutions (including HighQ, Icertis, DocuSign Agreement Cloud, M365, Repstor and Pega).
Prior to joining SYKE he led a lending business and in-house legal teams at Barclays, where he sponsored the development technology solutions, expanding the use of e-signature to the corporate bank and successfully sponsoring the use of an AI solution for the loan book.