What Makes Canada's Legal Teams Go Digital?

Inefficient legal processes lag behind the pace of business

Businessman wearing a tie

Organizations look to in-house law departments for more than just legal advice. Legal touchpoints are woven throughout almost every aspect of business. Product development, revenue generation, operations, compliance, human resources, and governance, all rely on legal input. 

The Association of Corporate Counsel conducted a global survey of Chief Legal Officers. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of CLO’s worldwide report that executive leadership almost always seeks their advice on business decisions. Now, with so many companies pivoting to survive, even more is expected from in-house counsel. The move to digital legal transformation is gaining steam as a vital strategic initiative necessary to keep up with the rest of the business. 

Legal experts from Docusign, Arcosa and ServiceNow met for a recent panel discussion to examine the challenges facing today’s legal leaders, why now is a crucial time to evaluate existing workflows and pain points, and the opportunities unlocked with contract lifecycle management as a part of the digital transformation toolkit.

What is digital transformation to Canadian lawyers? 

Those working in the law industry agree that without a digital strategy, being paper-dependent makes them vulnerable to disaster. What’s more, it stands in the way of achieving other core goals. Nearly two thirds of General Counsel’s Offices, in Canada and across the globe, believe the legal function has fallen behind in innovation compared to other departments. 

To implement transformation within your legal department, you must first identify and understand your existing processes – build the foundation of your house before laying the technology roof. Do a process inventory to gain an understanding of:

  • All legal department tasks
  • Which departments legal work originates from
  • The complexity levels of each task
  • General turnaround times on assignments and tasks
  • The stakeholders involved
  • How change management is approached within your department and will be received by your team

By understanding your company's processes within this framework, you can identify which tasks to improve, accelerate or remove, to boost business results. Without this identification exercise, new technology implementations are bound to suffer. Ultimately, the goal of this transformation is to improve effectiveness and efficiency, reduce risk, and erase the legal department’s reputation for being the workflow bottleneck.

Digitizing the legal department also benefits the organization by attracting better talent. The current generation of lawyers is tech-savvy. Tapping apps on their phones and using the latest software is second-nature to them. The current generation of lawyers doesn't want to practice law old-school style. Updated technology will increase job satisfaction for all staff lawyers and create better workflow efficiencies throughout the organization.

Better contract management drives legal transformation

Especially in today’s environment, the legal function is being asked to do more with less, demonstrate strategic value and leverage innovative approaches to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. Based on industry reports from ACC, CLOC and Gartner, the speakers from Arcosa, ServiceNow and Docusign addressed several key visions companies have for their legal departments:

  • Reduce time spent on low-value work: 59% of companies say that the area of their business needing the most improvement is streamlining their processes with technology to reduce time spent on low-value legal work
  • Mitigate risk in data privacy: More than half of CLOs believe new industry-specific regulations and data privacy rules will cause future legal problems
  • Address increased demand on legal teams: 87% report a significant increase in the demand placed on legal in the past five years and are actively planning how to maximize their investments
  • Deliver faster results: The number one priority for executive teams is for Legal to increase the speed of their delivery
  • Leverage artificial intelligence: By 2023, AI will bring 30% more efficiency to the contract negotiation process

When companies take a holistic view of the legal department, they can implement systems that provide value and lead to progressive change. When you align your corporate strategies with modern systems like CLM, you can expect: 

  • Faster time to market
  • More efficient generation of agreements
  • Self-service opportunities and less overall reliance on legal 
  • Reduced risk due to manual errors and informal transfer of agreements
  • Actionable business intelligence and insights

Smarter agreement strategies feed each other, making contract data and workflows more structured, more accessible, less error prone, and more valuable to the business. Done right, contract lifecycle management tools allow you to eliminate disparate, manual legal systems. By connecting processes, you improve functionality while creating unity between all stakeholders. Business operations become centralized, standardized, and automated.

In a rapidly shifting economy, a legal department's function can be called into question when foundational processes are slow or inefficient. Technology that automates and streamlines to improve document turnaround times are more critical than ever. First, businesses must identify which processes can be improved, accelerated, or eliminated by a document management system. 

Learn more about eliminating Inefficient Legal Processes in your organization