What have legal departments learned from the recent pandemic?

For the first few months of Covid, a lot of businesses went into survival mode, but as we adjust, lessons have emerged that apply to legal departments in a range of industries, size and countries.

The first lesson learnt is undoubtedly the importance of transparency and highlighting the legal department’s value. This is not to be confused with time recording or monitoring people.

The beauty of implementing a matter management platform means that in-house legal teams no longer have to manually record their data. With LawVu teams are capturing their data in a structured way as they work and are automatically empowered to quantify what they are doing. Management has access to transparent reports which analyse data in real-time. We know legal are experiencing significantly more work pressures than pre-COVID , and we know that there is pressure to reduce staff costs in many organisations, but you need the data to prove that legal isn’t just paying for itself, it’s saving the business significant cost. This is only possible when you have a tool that enables you to capture your data and analyse.

By ensuring you have a simple, cloud-based matter management system, your team will have the ability to work from anywhere and consequently capture this crucial data without any extra effort. Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.

The second lesson is that Legal needs to be a strategic Business Partner, not “The Department of No”.

For too long, Legal has been perceived as a black box in the corporate structure, a mysterious unit where complex questions are sent to smart folks with the hope that they will be turned around with a Legal seal of approval, but the expectation that once a request is sent it will disappear and occasionally emerge with a request for an obscure document or email, only to eventually receive a “no” or the runner up: be referred to external counsel.

Again, transparent data management enables businesses to see who requested what advice, what the advice provided was, what the value and impact of that advice was and importantly, offers the ability to improve based on that data.

“LawVu helps organisations demonstrate the value of their legal department,” explains the software solution’s Head of Sales, Brid Heffernan.

“You can track the efficiency of your team, how many matters your team is working on, what type of matters, how much time they’re spending, and how much money you’re saving the business by keeping that work in-house.

“Once you start to capture your data in a structured way you can also start to recognise patterns and trends, like what time of year certain matters ramp up, to help drive good decisions. You could, for example, easily identify how many matters are pandemic-related. But without a matter management system showing the value of what you do, in-house legal teams are often just seen as an expensive cost centre.”

Businesses under financial pressure are looking to save money wherever possible. “People want to use external law firms less and manage more matters in-house,” Brid says. “But they’re also talking about letting go of people and having fewer staff. So that’s a huge challenge for in-house teams right now. LawVu will help you gain insight and enable data-driven decisions by showing you where further investment will deliver results.

Streamlining work and operating efficiently is also an important element to survival. LawVu removes time-consuming admin and automates data entry tasks. “Lawyers can spend an awful lot of time just trying to find a contract or an email. People can spend hours going around in circles if there’s no dedicated repository. LawVu brings everything together in one connected platform, providing your team access to information instantly.”

Another world-wide lesson is the need for more flexible working arrangements.

“A lot of people just weren’t set up to work from home at all, particularly those within larger organisations. They could only handle a certain number of people on their system at once, and there wasn’t enough infrastructure to go around. The beauty of LawVu is that all you need is the internet and a smart device and you’ll be good to go, being a cloud-native platform means your team can access their matters from anywhere anytime.”

Being ISO accredited and SOC 2 compliant, Security is water-tight and LawVu is fully integrated with Outlook so you can continue working seamlessly from home – something many employees now prefer. A recent survey by research firm McCrindle found 78% of Australians believe working from home will become the new normal, and 76% would stay longer with their employer if they were offered more remote working or flexible working options. Many organisations have found staff are actually more productive working from home.

“Traditionally a lot of large organisations, in particular, needed everyone to sit in front of them in an office to see that they were being productive. But when you’ve got a matter management system it doesn’t make any difference where they’re working from,” Brid says.

“In LawVu you can see what each team member is working on, what their input is, and can make sure they’re working through the tasks they’re supposed to be doing. Once you’ve done your part, you update the status of the matter and allocate it to who’s next to work on it. So there’s huge visibility about the progress you’re making. In-house legal teams can work remotely but be more collaborative and transparent than ever.”

The pandemic has been a wake-up call in many respects and has permanently altered the way in which we work. Having a robust, digital, matter management platform will help your team to survive – and thrive – now and in the future.

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