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Technology and the In-House Legal Team

October 19, 2017

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Sourcing, selecting and implementing a new technology solution for an in-house legal team is a marathon not  a sprint. This excellent article from my colleague Denise Nurse lists the 10 key steps in the process. I  would like to pick up on a couple of the points made and add a few thoughts of my own.

Firstly, I would advise people not to underestimate the importance, and the scale, of the task of documenting your existing processes. This is a time-consuming job, but it’s important to realize that a new technical solution is only as good as the information it’s working with. Before automating any of your existing systems you will need to break them down into digital sized chunks. This can be as simple as identifying the steps in a straightforward approval process, or as hugely complex as mapping the many hundreds, or even thousands, of potential variables in a contract creation and negotiation process or something in between. In every case it needs to be comprehensively documented and the technology providers will not have the skill or the relevant knowledge to do this for you.

This can be a daunting prospect – taking apart exactly who does what at every single stage of a given process – but it’s also an opportunity to reassess your existing set-up and to streamline and improve where appropriate.

In short it’s a journey of a thousand steps, each one as important as the rest.

The second point I would emphasize is that this is most importantly about people. An implementation of a new technical product will ultimately only succeed if it benefits the end user and demonstrably makes their lives easier. It’s perhaps not unfair to call members of the legal profession “cautious adopters” and in my experience if it’s not easy to use they will find ways not to.

To achieve this you have to put real thought into the design and the roll-out of the new system – make it easy to use and great to look at. Think about these things and the end user experience when designing how your solution will look and feel. The technology providers can help with this but they will take their lead from you. Put some real time into making it fun as well as useful and it will pay dividends in the end.

Think about it like getting married. You know you’re asking a lot to stick it out with one person for the rest of your days, so you have to go with a big bold vision of what you are both doing it for and symbols that help you to remember that.

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