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Get the Right People and Processes in Place Before Integrating New Tech

February 23, 2020

Legal Talent Outsourcing

Get the Right People and Processes in Place Before Integrating New Tech

When poor-fit technology is paired with poorly-trained people, the result is…you guessed it: poor results. As we have seen over and over during our last 25 years in business, technology that falls within the category of “legal tech” is no exception.

Looking back over the last two decades, there are plenty of examples of situations where legal tech didn’t live up to its promise, leading to costly investments without commensurate returns for corporate legal departments, at least at the early stages of its rollout. We’ve witnessed that problems arise most frequently when an organization tries to leverage technology tools before it has its “house”—people and processes—in order.

In a recent article for Legal Tech News, Dave Galbenski, EVP o Strategic Initiatives for Lumen Legal, a Lexitas company, addresses the importance of corporate legal departments getting their people and processes optimized before trying to integrate legal tech. Tech is an accelerator of results, not a silver bullet for every problem. To leverage legal tech effectively, corporate legal departments should focus, first, on laying a strong foundation with the right people and processes. Legal tech can then be plugged in to accelerate problem-solving, rather than causing more of them. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for a business that lacks the right people and processes to struggle for 12 to 18 months to implement a new legal tech tool, only to learn that, given the pace of innovation, better tech solutions have become available. They’re then forced to start over, or move forward with a less effective solution.

In this article, Dave discusses three ways that corporate legal departments can set the stage for the successful integration of legal tech. While these strategies are described in the context of deploying technology for the management of commercial contracts, the underlying principles apply no matter what function legal tech is meant to serve. In particular, corporate legal departments should focus on (i) getting their data in order, (ii) defining rules and creating structure, and (iii) elevating their team members to their highest and best use. A summary of these issues is provided below, with more detailed analysis available in the Legal Tech News article.

Get Your Data in Order

Many businesses struggle to capture data across their commercial contracts portfolios. Layering software on top of a disorganized system won’t solve the problem. Rather than spending time and resources trying to integrate software to manage “dirty” data, a better investment would be to clean up existing data and implement more organized systems for data capture moving forward.

Once those systems are in place, legal tech can then be deployed to extract and analyze data and create efficiencies in the review, negotiation, and management of commercial contracts.

Define Rules and Create Structure

Those who realize the greatest benefits from artificial intelligence software in the future will be those who lay the groundwork for it today by establishing processes that will enable machines to optimally perform. Software requires rules, and if there are no clear rules to abide by, even the strongest supercomputer paired with the smartest software won’t be able to add much value.

Accordingly, before investing too heavily in technology, businesses should attempt to standardize terms, create templates, think through “if/then” scenarios, and evaluate risks associated with their various forms of commercial contracts. We call this process developing a “playbook” for your contracts. It’s not possible to standardize and create rules for 100 percent of contracts—there will always be outliers—but creating a playbook, which can be used to set rules for software, can drive tremendous efficiencies for a corporate legal department.

Elevate Your Team Members to Their Highest and Best Use

When contract review work is misallocated, it often means that lawyers—whether in-house or external—are doing work “below their pay grade,” which means that the expertise available to a business is not being properly utilized. In other instances, individuals are being tasked with contract work that falls outside of their wheelhouse, which leads to inefficiencies and costly errors.

Even when you have software in place that automates aspects of contract review, there will still be humans involved in the process. Therefore, before turning to legal tech, it’s important to designate and train the lawyers, and non-lawyer resources, such as those provided by alternative legal services providers, who will supplement the finite capacity of software. By doing so, you’ll ensure that your people are being elevated to their highest and best use.

Author Image

Meron Hewis

President of the Legal Talent Outsourcing

Meron Hewis is the President of the Legal Talent Outsourcing Division of Lexitas. Ms. Hewis has over 20 years of experience in legal consulting, project management, and alternative legal talent outsourcing solutions. She is a thought leader in the industry, providing unique legal solutions and designing the operations of various legal programs internationally.


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