With new reduction in force issues, digital courtrooms, and an increase in remote clientele, corporate legal departments are expected to do even more with less. Organizations want their counsel to utilize cutting-edge technology to create efficiencies, but also expect counsel to be cost conscientious. Such constraints can stifle technological expansion in a practice, despite the abundance of technology that range in sophistication level and price point. Inside counsel understands that they need to use emerging technologies, but lawyers are not technologists. So, how can in-house teams figure out what they need, why they need it, and how it works?
Here are three tips to help answer these questions:
Consult technological experts
With emerging technologies, independent research and self-education is not always enough. Talking with outside consultants will help law departments understand what they technologies can meet their specific needs, why they need it, and how to get new technology to work alongside already existing software. Consultants can provide insight regarding operational features for technological solutions and whether it would be beneficial to handle matters in-house or instead, to outsource the work to a third-party vendor. For example, an outside consultant familiar with technology assisted review (TAR) could analyze a legal department’s workload and budget to advise on what solutions would be most beneficial for eDiscovery tasks. Experts can also share what solutions enhance an organization’s information governance efforts. It is important to use tools that can help with ongoing data management and to adjust information governance objectives as needed. The growing abundance of artificial intelligence products on the market can help streamline tasks such as contact review. A good consultant should be able to give you information on all these technologies available, the price points, and advise on the best fit for your organization.
Understand how to use what you already have.
One major way to get the most out of technological investments is to determine if a legal department can use the technology they already have for different tasks. For example, most organizations use Microsoft Office 365 (Microsoft 365), which is a subscription service offering Office apps and cloud capabilities. However, this software can do so much more than just document processing and PivotTables. If a department is already using Microsoft 365 for access to Office apps in the cloud, it can probably save money by using other features of this technology for different needs like cybersecurity compliance, data management, and data retention efforts. All of this will improve the department’s information governance program. Before piling on new expenses, general counsels should analyze their current technological investments like Microsoft 365 to determine if they can use it or upgrade it for other tasks.
After determining what technology is needed, in-house legal departments must be proactive about warning and educating their business lines about high-cost services or technology will be needed for a case or project in order to remove the element of surprise when the bill comes. Reports and metrics from outside consultants can help to justify these expenses. One major advantage to using technology and innovation is that it can help counsel monitor and identify potential issues, before they become huge problems. Ultimately, this will save money, increase predictability, and improve outcomes.
Legal departments should take these tips under advisement so they can figure out how to more easily tackle the issues associated with using new technology. Keep information governance concerns at the forefront of decision-marking about new investments as it is necessary to promote compliance and cost concerns. With the overwhelming amount of data and client demands, it can be difficult to sift through the noise and determine the best business moves. Spending money on technology that helps alleviate concerns and control data is a necessity. While technology can have a large upfront cost, it can definitely save money on the back-end by mitigating risk and provide better case outcomes due to increased efficiency. What is appropriate will vary between departments and even individual cases. Retaining outside consultants, having research to back up expenses, and utilizing current investments are all crucial things that will help keep clients happy and ensure general counsels are keeping up with technology.
For more information, please contact:
Caroline Woodman, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Asia, Epiq