How contract management transforms a day in the life of a legal professional
By Yolanda van den Berg, Director Solution Architecture, DocuSign Asia Pacific and Japan
A typical day in the life of an in-house legal practitioner can be summed up in one word: busy. It is particularly true in smaller and mid-sized businesses, where teams are lean, and the full gamut of legal issues need to be dealt with daily. When ‘busy’ is the order of the day, the idea that 1 in 5 in-house counsel hours are currently spent on low-complexity, repetitive or routine tasks seems a bit of a waste.
The good news? It’s easy to find efficiencies and time savings — you just need to know where to look. Below, I will explore how smart digitisation of key moments in a legal professional’s day can pay off. But first, I will explain why this is a priority.
There is simply too much to do
Legal teams shoulder huge burdens. They are responsible for everything from risk assessments of incoming contracts to the drafting of new contracts, negotiation and collaboration with internal and external stakeholders, researching new legislation, administration and communication. Whew. No wonder legal professionals cite excessive workloads and burnout as major challenges.
The volume and complexity of contracts that legal teams need to push through the system add to the pressure. The problem is exacerbated if these processes are still partly manual. Not only do manual processes slow things down, but they open up the risk of errors and make it harder for teams to get full visibility across all the negotiations that are going on. When contracts are flying back and forth over email, they can enter a dangerous ‘red lining loop’, where it becomes nigh on impossible to ascertain which version is correct and final. And the more complex a contract, the greater the risk.
What do these risks look like? Business operations slow down. Time to revenue slows down. There is poor visibility across contracts, making it hard to check compliance with ESG requirements. And, in some industries, errors and non-compliance can lead to legal disputes and regulatory penalties. Without a crystal clear understanding of the exact terminology and clauses in a contract, and the obligation it puts on you, problems will inevitably arise.
Contracting bottlenecks can also force legal teams to enlist the help of outside counsel, which can be a huge cost to the business. Anything legal can do to help keep contracting in-house will lead to significant savings.
Digitisation solves the ‘too busy’ problem
Legal departments with a centralised contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution in place are a clear step ahead of those who still use manual processes. When all contracts can be managed centrally, consistency and compliance are assured. A proven digital solution enables proper version tracking, insightful reporting, and a clear audit trail on every contract.
When the contract management solution also contains features like AI, the benefits are even more impactful. AI technology can give insight into contract clauses to help monitor for regulatory changes across the industry, and assist in assessing the position of all contracts to ensure they remain valid. During negotiation and approvals, it can also quickly surface all relevant legal clauses and contracting parties — helping to save valuable time and effort.
Pairing your digital contracting solution with clear policies around self-service can further alleviate the pressure on legal teams. For example, there may be an embedded self-service option for sales, whereby an employee can easily send out a standard NDA without requiring legal input or overview. But if that NDA requires a special payment clause or some other change, the system can automatically flag that legal review is required.
As the above examples show, digitisation can significantly streamline and automate the contracting process — saving valuable time and resources, while mitigating the risks associated with the manual handling of contracts.
Make it a great day in the life of your legal team
If you are like most legal teams, you have probably digitised the signing phase of the contract process, using an eSignature solution. Yet you may still have a great opportunity to digitise the other phases in the contracting lifecycle — from first preparing the contract, through to ongoing management — to turn your team’s day from ‘busy’ into ‘super-productive’.
DocuSign CLM is built to help streamline legal processes. It has the potential to automate the entire contract lifecycle — from the automation of contract creation using clause libraries to the quick and easy surfacing of past contracts through the central repository. Teams can easily set up rules and processes for self-serving certain contracts using pre-approved templates, conditional workflows and collaboration tools. It all leads to huge time savings, reduced risk, and happier legal teams.
In getting started with DocuSign CLM, we recommend starting small. Solve one problem first — be it workflow management or negotiation or approvals. Identify your biggest bottleneck in the legal department, and see how a CLM can fix it. Once you have solved one problem, it becomes a whole lot easier to build from there with adoption across the department and the business.
If you are interested in learning more about how DocuSign CLM can deliver new efficiencies in your legal department, get in touch. We would be happy to chat.
Yolanda has 20+ years of experience in the engineering and technical industries, having held positions in development, implementation, support, pre-sales, and leadership. She has supported many large customers, including NASA, Boeing, MIT, Airtel Group, OCBC Bank, NTUC FairPrice, National Bank of Australia and Westpac New Zealand, to name a few. Currently, Yolanda is the Solution Architecture Specialists team Director for DocuSign APJ. Bringing 5+ years of DocuSign-focussed product knowledge and expertise from eSignature, AI and CLM across the complete product offering.