The latest statistics show that the in-house legal team’s future is evolving under pressure:
- workloads are expected to increase by over 25% in the next three years;
- 76% of legal teams are already struggling to manage their workloads;
- 53% of CEOs anticipate launching a significant cost reduction effort in the next 12 months;
- 88% of general counsel are being pressured to reduce the cost of the legal function;
- there’s a target of 14-18% reduction in costs.
While statistics like these are concerning, they’re prompting in-house legal departments to search for ways of measuring their value and justifying their existence to the wider organization. And they’re looking at technology.
In-house teams know that technology is their best system of record
In its most basic form, a system of record is a list of all the issues the legal team is involved with. Each matter has a unique ID, and with that atomic unit you can tie anything you want to that matter, meaning you’re then able to tell its story. Why are in-house teams striving for this?
The future of work for the legal team is already here. Even now, it’s absolutely necessary to include the capture of increasingly digital points of data. We need increased access to emails and texts for cases and these are expected to be stored as precisely and transparently as any other document, and re-surfaced instantaneously.
And then there’s the data. Legal teams are being asked at an increasing frequency for information and data on performance. We’re expected to be able to provide team metrics faster and more regularly than ever before. For example, who is doing the most work for a particular practice area, and what practice area is accounting for the most team hours.
When you have all that information there in the digital system of record, under its matter ID, instead of the data being distributed across inboxes, spreadsheets, or in some cases, just not captured at all – life is easier. Everything is retrievable.
When to opt for point solutions
Generally speaking, the main benefit of a point solution is cited as the depth of its functionality. This is why such solutions are often referred to as “an inch wide and mile deep”.
Point solutions are hyper-focused on a single problem and offer niche capabilities and features to address the special needs of the area it’s applied to. This means that it is absolutely mission critical that this point solution can be easily and genuinely integrated into other systems of use.
Where point solutions are inherently strong is in their ability to scale with the business – you don’t need to purchase all the solutions at once. You can start with the software that addresses your most pressing area of need and then add additional capabilities when the time is right.
However, integration becomes more of an issue because each point system has its own problem-framing and forms of capturing data. Data terms, formats and other sources of contradiction can make seemingly simple integrations at the start of the implementation suddenly difficult. When it comes to several systems, the problems multiply.
In-house, this only adds to the conundrum. With all these different sources of information – where and what is your system of record? Your source of truth?
When to opt for end-to-end solutions
End-to-end solutions were originally thought of as the opposite of point solutions. Known conversely as “a mile wide and an inch deep” they used to be a one-size-fits-all, out-of-the-box solution. This is really not the case anymore. A study from Spend Matters showed that many end-to-end suites across the technology sector offer as good functionality or better than point solutions and have done so for some time.
Organizations that choose end-to-end solutions do still need to pay attention to overlap in what the end-to-end solution caters for compared to the solutions they already use. But this is increasingly flexible, with increasing vendors offering module-based subscriptions.
An end-to-end solution also avoids the common snags when implementing and integrating between various point systems and the dreaded communication breakdown when things go wrong (one supplier, one call).
It’s safe to say that end-to-end software solutions should be used when there is an obvious solution. This will streamline implementation and provide the business more transparency through the use of shared data and one source of truth.
Either way – extend your tech stack horizontally to minimize integration issues
If neither of those options fit the bill, it’s worth noting that since the emergence of software “platforms” or “suites”, you don’t actually have to choose between point and end-to-end solutions anymore.
This applies particularly in the in-house legal space, where teams are being asked to increase productivity and reduce costs at the same time. Neither option may be practical in terms of budget, workflow or time. Instead you can look for an end-to-end modular software solution, invest in the modules that best suit your immediate needs, and add the rest over time.
This is horizontal expansion, where you expand your system horizontally from the same supplier, with zero integration issues.
Some vendors, including LawVu, offer strong functionality and depth of expertise across the entire platform and a suite of integrations, so that we can help you no matter what option you choose.
What’s most important is that you take the time to decide what your system of record will be and how you want to capture that data. Doing your research and figuring out your long-term strategy is key. Long long-term action on the other hand, can be incremental.