Automation: the Future for In-House Legal Departments



by ContractRoom

businessman on a rocketThere is a trend we’ve seen building over the last few years, and we think it’s one whose time has come. It’s the rise of operations within in-house legal departments. It’s an understanding that applying sound business practices to legal operations not only increases efficiency, it helps the company’s bottom line.

A Simply Hired search on May 11 turned up 140,896 results for operations-centered positions. That was just one day. In a 2014 Inside Counsel article “Inside the rise of law department operations”, Connie Brenton, who is chief of staff and director of legal operations at NetApp, correctly noted three reasons for why this has happened.

  1. Pressure from the CFO. After the 2008 crash, legal departments started facing scrutiny they hadn’t encountered before. Efficiency became as important as any of their legal functions.
  2. There are tools and resources to use. From e-billing to information management, tools to help are becoming widely available.
  3. Forward-thinking businesses have been investing more in their legal teams and processes to help streamline legal spend.

While all three items carry significance, we believe item #2 can be a big help towards building organizational efficiency.

Since Brenton wrote the article, software tools have continued evolving to provide true automation, and there a number of new entrants trying to make a real difference. Automation can not only lead to greater efficiency, but also better overall practices across all business units.

ContractRoom, for example, allows for any standard, repeatable contracting task to be performed easily and consistently. Essentially, it smooths out the collaboration internally with the business and legal teams as well as all the back-and-forth with their transaction counterparties.

But it goes much further than that. ContractRoom gives legal departments the ability to:

  1. Streamline multiparty negotiation, both internally and externally.
  2. Automate contract drafting and document building-up.
  3. Convert contract commitments into controlled user tasks.
  4. Capture and structure transactional and behavioral data end-to-end.
  5. Preserve the enormous volumes of contract data from any business transaction conducted via the system.

Automation is the key to each of these tasks, and it is the next step in the evolution of legal department operations. Ultimately automation frees the legal department to do what they do best—protect and grow the company’s interests.

What do you think?  Is automation the future for in-house legal departments?

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