I attended CLOC earlier this week and was struck not by what was being said by the multitude of speakers on stage, but what was being discussed over coffees and at the bar afterwards.
The big theme coming out loud and clear from GCs was a desire to more effectively triage all of the requests for legal help they receive.
Being able to collect and understand the demand for legal services in an organization is a pressing concern, but also a necessary starting point for legal operational efficiency.
Increasingly it is becoming clear to me why everyone needs a front door to legal, and a reception area that is not only clearly signposted, but over time enables business users to self-serve, and check back out again.
As an in-house GC or legal operator, you can easily become besieged by requests for legal advice. I speak from bitter experience.
You nip out to lunch and return to queues of people at your desk, a barrage of missed calls, not to mention cheeky What’s App messages to your ‘other’ phone.
In my last inhouse role I must admit resorting to using the service entrance to avoid approaches from desperate colleagues as I ventured back into the building from lunch. I’m not proud of myself.
Once people had managed to pin me down, most of the time, they had to wait for a response. My days were being endlessly filled with new tasks forcing me to constantly prioritise new business requests versus the requirement from those above me for weekly reports and monthly board papers.
In such circumstances it’s almost impossible to see the wood from the trees. Unless GCs and legal ops start to triage and direct people to the right place before they even need to speak to you, I fear things are only going to get worse, the days longer and the stress levels higher.
The starting point for legal operational efficiency is a legal front door.
A simple intranet page, to triage their needs versus the best, most efficient, and effective course of action.
Increasingly what transpires is how many requests for legal support can be resolved via a self-service journey. Third party papers can be scanned, clauses can be flagged that are likely to raise alarm bells.
But by sticking to current ways of working GCs are not only wasting their own time, they’re also not capturing data effectively. Ironically the time consumer weekly reports and papers to the board would be so much easier if they adopted legal tech.
I’m pleased to say some large companies are beginning to shift. Often by combining pre-existing tech in their IT environment with specialist legal tech, they can ensure all legal requests start in the same place.
Management information transforms from mere data points to actionable insights, enabling internal legal teams to run a tighter ship. Perhaps more importantly, the solution is also more positive from a user’s perspective.
They get what they need, when they need it, with the minimum of fuss, and without having to chase lawyers around the office.
It’s wrong to assume everyone in a big company is used to the legal process, not least because the process varies person to person, or depending on the type of request, be they contracts, compliance, real estate, or employment.
This lack of clarity is inefficient in itself. However, if you configure a legal front door – you can take the user through an easy journey – in an intuitive and helpful way, like picking up an iPhone for the very first time.
Legal front doors are always open, always welcoming, and needn’t be manned 24 hours by a human to provide the services business users really want and need.
They can collect key data, understand exactly what people want, capture all the info necessary for an internal or external lawyer to progress the matter, and if a frequent request – take the user down a self-service contract.
It’s important to note you may not need to buy any new tech to create your digital front door.
We have recently been helping to repurpose non-legal tech such as Salesforce and Service Now for this very purpose.
If you’re interested in finding out more, my door is always open 😉