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What Do a Law Department’s Reputation and Performance Have to Do with Legal Intake?

November 27, 2023

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An overriding goal of law department leaders is to establish a reputation as a trusted and valuable advisor to the business. That reputation rests on far more than the quality of the department’s work product or the legal results it achieves. Speed, quality of outcomes, and value-add are critical factors in whether those in other parts of the business view their law department colleagues as an enabler or a hindrance to business and strategic success.

Achieving speed and value starts with legal intake. How a law department approaches that crucial first step in handling requests for assistance impacts numerous pillars of the department’s reputation, including:

  • Responsiveness
  • Work output (e.g., volume of matters)
  • Turnaround time
  • Ease of collaboration
  • Insightfulness (e.g., regarding legal matters, operational issues, and business goals)

Yet, doing legal intake ‘right’ is difficult. Many law departments struggle with:

  • High volumes of legal service requests (LSRs) from their internal business clients
  • Multiple channels through which the department receives LSRs
  • Wide variations in the format of LSRs from different departments or business functions
  • Prevalence of incomplete LSRs that lack necessary information
  • Suboptimal assignment of LSRs to resources better utilised for higher-value matters
  • Difficulty and time required for tracking and reporting

Many legal teams do not realise all the matter types that benefit from an improved legal intake process. Here are ten examples of prime opportunities for achieving better department performance via a streamlined approach:

  • Contract Drafting and Review Requests: consistency and adherence to legal compliance standards, faster turnaround times, better quality agreements, and the ability to prioritise business-critical agreements
  • Regulatory Compliance: significantly reduced risk of inadequate compliance, clearer and faster communication between relevant parties (requestor, law department, other teams in the business, etc.), and more precise and coherent management and tracking of compliance-related requests
  • IP Management: better protection of valuable intellectual property, increased convenience when submitting IP-related requests, and comprehensive, centralised, and more efficient asset management
  • Employment and HR: lower risk within HR processes, quicker and more efficient resolution of employment-related issues, improved employee relations, reduced operational disruptions
  • Corporate Governance: improved regulatory compliance and adherence to regulatory formalities, stronger corporate governance framework, smoother and better processes for documentation, increased ease of initiating requests
  • Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A): faster handling of due diligence and other M&A-related matters, closer, smoother, and more efficient collaboration and information-sharing across teams, improved negotiation dynamics
  • Litigation and Disputes: seamless coordination and strategic management of litigation portfolios, easier process for intake of litigation-related requests, swifter response to legal challenges, minimised business disruptions, optimised resource utilisation, and better outcomes in legal disputes
  • Data Privacy and Security: heightened compliance with data-related laws and regulations, faster response to data breaches, improved customer trust
  • Real Estate Management: smoother transactions, reduced complexity, improved property management, strengthened business continuity
  • Licensing and Permits: optimised regulatory compliance function and reduced risk of business interruptions or operational downtime

For these and many other types of matters handled by the law department, improvements to the legal intake process deliver myriad benefits, among them more time for higher value work, faster and better results, and greater productivity. While optimising a legal department’s approach to legal intake cannot, in and of itself, establish a law department as a key contributor to overall business success, it plays an indispensable role in solidifying the department’s reputation as a critical component of the business as a whole.

A law department’s role as a trusted and valuable advisor to the business starts with its legal intake process. How a law department approaches that crucial first step in handling requests for assistance plays a critical part in establishing – or damaging — the department’s reputation.

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