The role of in-house lawyers is evolving, which means in-house teams must leverage technological opportunities to optimise their operating model and respond to challenges. Automation and self-service capabilities are effective tools in-house lawyers can utilise to transform the legal-intake and triage processes and increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve client service delivery.
Legal intake and triage refers to the process through which in-house legal teams receive and assign legal matters. Legal intake, in the in-house environment, is the process of receiving instructions from internal clients, while triage involves aligning the right people with the right task based on expertise and capacity. The overall goal of intake and triage is to enable in-house legal teams to appropriately delegate work, allocate resources and ensure the efficient delivery of services and/or resolution of matters in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Recently, rapid technological advancement coupled with evolving client expectations has transformed the role of the in-house lawyer. The new legal operating model offers ‘Law-as-a-Service’, which means in addition to their existing day-to-day obligations, in-house legal teams are increasingly focused on providing additional value to clients and delivering insights to stakeholders that contribute to the corporate strategy and assist in achieving organisational goals. Consequently, in-house legal teams face the challenge of accomplishing more tasks with less time and resources – an issue which is further exacerbated when legal requests come through unstructured, incomplete and in a decentralised manner.
Automation capabilities and self-service systems are an effective way to streamline and optimise the legal intake and triage process such that in-house lawyers can be relieved of low-value and monotonous tasks and focus their attention on more strategic and valuable tasks.
‘People, Process, Technology’
To understand the importance of automation, it is first prudent to consider the three elements of successful transformation: People, Process and Technology (PPT). The PPT framework demonstrates the symbiotic relationship between the three elements, of which an organisation can leverage to enhance specific capabilities, increase its competency and achieve strategic objectives. In this case, technology and software can be used by in-house lawyers (and their internal clients) to streamline instructions and automate the intake and triage process, which will in turn, optimise workflows, increase efficiency and productivity of the legal team and improve service offerings for their clients and stakeholders.
An effective legal automation tool can streamline the workflow and communication processes between the in-house team, internal clients and external law firms, and as a result, save time, optimise resources, increase transparency, reduce risk and improve consistency by analysing data for future insights. Some additional benefits of automating the legal intake and triage process include:
A recent research report conducted in 2020 by Legal Week Intelligence showed that:
83% of legal professions believe technology will have a huge or moderate impact on the way they work within the next five years
61% of in-house legal professionals say that data is one of the main considerations that influences their organisation’s broader strategic decisions
‘Knowledge, Content and Information Management’
In addition to automation, self-service is a concept that has become increasingly important in the legal landscape. In this context, self-service falls within the Knowledge and Content Management strategy of an organisation. Knowledge and Content Management is a digital capability that enables the efficient delivery of customised and personalised knowledge and content to a particular user upon their request and the system’s approval.
In an automated and digital environment, self-service systems assist with the retrieval of legal knowledge and content, such as legal documents, forms, policies, contract templates and automated documents with minimum human input and without necessarily needing to interact with a lawyer. Effectively, a self-service system provides convenient access to information and simplifies drafting and administrative activities so that any authorised individual with access to the system can do it for themselves. Consequently, efficiency increases while the risk or errors and the cost of legal services reduces.
As the legal industry continues to evolve, effective legal intake and triage processes will become increasingly important for organisations to remain competitive, achieve growth and enhance their performance. That being so, legal automation and self-service systems are essential tools that can transform manual processes for in-house legal teams, thus, increasing productivity, efficiency and reducing costs. As a result, in-house lawyers can focus on more strategic tasks that drive growth, deliver value to internal clients and stakeholders and assist in achieving organisation goals.
This article was originally published on our sister site lawcadia.com.
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