Transforming the legal industry, one automated document at a time

The legal industry is steeped in tradition. But that doesn’t mean its players can’t embrace modern tools and technologies to get their important work done. In fact, those that don’t take up the latest tools of the trade could very well get left behind. 

This was one of the main takeaways of a recent webinar that Docusign hosted here in Australia. Michelle Ban, the Legal Operations Manager at industrial property group Goodman, joined our own Senior Legal Counsel, Marcus Hannah, to talk about the importance of digitisation in the legal industry. 

If you deal with legal contracts as part of your work, then the full webinar is a must-watch – particularly the detailed demonstration of a digitised contract workflow. But, if you’re just after a quick recap of what was discussed, read on.

The problem with legal contracts 

Docusign’s Anthony Slater kicked things off with a summary of some recent Docusign research into how legal teams operate. One global study found that legal departments are being held back by:

  • Inefficient, manual processes – with inconsistencies and disconnections across departments impacting speed and contract quality
  • Information silos – caused by decentralised contract storage, which in turn limits access to data and insights
  • Unbalanced risk management – without visibility into agreements, it’s hard to contain and control risk in accordance with standards


The impact of these challenges is certainly being felt. According to another Docusign study, which surveyed over 1,300 legal professionals, manual contract processes chewed up invaluable time – in the order of the equivalent of seven full-time employees per year (based on 500 contracts being prepared and managed annually). 

So, what can be done? How can legal departments become more effective and efficient, and keep pace in today's increasingly competitive market? Our panelists had some helpful answers, which all essentially boiled down to one word: digitisation.

It’s time to put the pen down

By digitalising the process of preparing, acting on and managing agreements with a Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) solution, legal practices realise significant time savings, improved visibility, reduced contract leakage, and an easier way to maintain compliance. 

This is what Goodman set out to achieve when it switched from pen-and-paper agreements to Docusign over six years ago. “Our processes prior to Docusign involved many touchpoints across geographically diverse stakeholders. We wanted to streamline our processes to create a better experience. Sustainability was also an important factor,” said Michelle.

The company achieved all that and more when it started using Docusign. “Our turnaround times are faster, and we no longer have to print, mail and scan documents. We’re now able to track documents in the signing process. Things aren’t getting forgotten. We have full visibility and data on all contracts being executed. Plus, we can identify bottlenecks, which is a big thing for process improvement.”

Michelle has become a huge advocate within her organisation for the digitalisation of agreements, calling herself an “internal solutions engineer” who consults with other business units to see if Docusign can service their use cases. Thanks to this, Goodman has streamlined many core business processes, making them much more efficient. 

For example, with all internal approval processes, the Goodman team uses Docusign PowerForms and conditional routing which, as Michelle describes, “allows the legal team to dictate the circumstances that people are included in the workflow.” 

It all helps with compliance, too. “Auditability, and the ability to track all internal approvals and signing, was a lot more difficult with hard copy documents. We’ve mitigated process deviations and errors.”

Marcus added useful insight into how digitalising legal documents helps with compliance. He said, “Various compliance risks can arise when contracting – with deadlines to meet, processes and policies that need to be followed, legislative and common law requirements, plus privacy obligations. If there’s a lack of visibility and control, this can result in mismanagement of documents, inconsistent approaches to contracting, and slow turnaround times. With the right technology, you can better manage the contracting process.”

So, how do you get started?

Michelle provided three helpful tips for any legal team thinking about embracing modern tools and technologies to boost efficiency, streamline workflows and mitigate risk:

  1. Take advantage of product trials. You have to move quickly with tech, otherwise you’ll fall behind – so you have to fail fast or find out quickly if a tool isn’t right for your needs.
  2. Don’t underestimate change management and ongoing maintenance. Most products require iterative, incremental improvements to maximise the value.
  3. Take the business on the journey. Engage stakeholders early and make sure all are aligned.

With legal teams increasingly being asked to do more with less, these tips could prove invaluable as you seek to automate and streamline your legal processes and systems. So why not take Michelle’s advice and start a free trial of Docusign today? 

Don’t forget, you can catch the full webinar on-demand.

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