Follow ACC Docket Online:  

Legal Tech Roadmap: Deploying Your Preferred Solution

Legal technology is top of mind for in-house counsel seeking to streamline their department’s operations. In our first two articles in this Legal Tech Roadmap series, we discussed the pain points that GCs and in-house lawyers face and how technology can help solve them, and reviewed six technology trends that legal departments should be watching.

In this article, we will discuss the final steps to deploy new technology into your legal department, and how to make that deployment a success.

Look to existing technology first

Before searching for a shiny new technology tool, pause for a moment and look internally at your existing technology stack. It’s inescapable that the legal team is usually seen as a cost center and therefore unlikely to receive any budget handouts for technology procurement.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t work with the IT team to solve your problems. While they may not have the best reputation internally, it’s imperative that you talk to the IT team, explain your challenges, and see what your company already has that can help meet your team’s needs.

Leveraging existing technology is a low-cost way of solving your pain points. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. More often than not, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Many legal departments have streamlined their legal operations using technology that has been in the locker for months or even years. This shows the importance of shouting louder to make sure the legal department is part of your organization’s technology roadmap.

Find your preferred solution

If your company’s technology doesn’t adequately meet your requirements, search for a tool that will. Make sure you work closely with your IT and procurement teams, but try not to relinquish control. This tool is meant to solve your problems and challenges, so only you can make the call on which technology ticks the right boxes.

Also, try to stay true to your requirements; don’t change the requirements to fit a particular technology tool. Focus on the “must haves” and “should haves.” That said, sometimes you can’t have everything, and you will have to settle for “good enough.”

Always validate your decision by asking the technology vendor for client testimonials, case studies, and reference calls. Be sure to ask the vendor about their product roadmap — what’s next, and does it align with your future requirements?

Build a business case

Unless you’re using existing technology, you’re most likely going to have to build a business case in order to request budget to go to market for a new technology tool. Within this business case, you will need to define the challenges you are looking to solve, as well as your goals and objectives.

Anchor the business case in outcomes by showing how technology will help deliver value to the organization (e.g., improved response times, reduced legal spend, control, and mitigation of risk). It will also be important to quantify the return on investment (ROI) against current benchmark metrics.

Finally, engage key stakeholders early so you know what they are looking for when making their decision. You don’t want to spend time building a business case only to find you’ve missed information that is critical to a key decision-maker.

Making new technology a success

You’re almost there now! When you’ve found your preferred technology solution, the business case has been made and budget approved, it’s time to successfully implement your new tool. But how do you make sure implementation will be a success? Here are a few best practices:

1. Measure and demonstrate ROI

Your business case was based on the value to the business and the ROI from the new technology tool. Therefore, following launch, use value metrics to check and demonstrate ROI to the business, so that it’s clear that bringing in the technology was the right call. You’re more likely to get support for new technology in the future if the initial experience is positive.

2. Invest in new roles

Lawyers have their day jobs, which means managing technology rollout, maintenance, and training will likely be difficult. Furthermore, many technology tools systematize existing know-how and processes.

To make this technology a success, it’s necessary to recruit “legal engineer”-type roles to support technology deployment and bridge the gap between law, process, and technology.

3. Train your team and business

The easiest excuse for not using new technology is not knowing how. Therefore, create a robust training and change program for your team and business so everyone knows how to use the new technology, why it’s important that they do, and where they can go for help and support.

For example, to encourage a seamless adoption, DELL offers ongoing self-service training and support for each tool as well as a staff member dedicated to providing personalized technology training to ensure that their users are comfortable with the tool. They also have a data scientist analyzing the information provided by their technology solutions.So, while technology can enable efficiency, investing in people is required to power it.

4. Take feedback and iterate

It’s rare that you will get technology deployment right the first time. Therefore, you should establish good communication channels so staff can give feedback on what’s working and what can be improved. Most importantly, act on this feedback, as it shows people you are listening and will keep them engaged in the future.

5. Leverage your outside counsel

Many law firms are setting up new service delivery and legal operations consultancy functions. These new teams are full of legal consultants, process engineers, and solution architects who are experienced in helping legal teams.

Why not leverage your external counsel to provide legal tech consultancy and solution services? It’s a sensible, low-cost option before investing in dedicated headcount.

6. Look to integrate

User experience is everything. After a new technology is launched it can face difficulty if it doesn’t play nice with other systems. If you haven’t already done so before deployment, you should look to combine your technology for greater impact. Break down tech silos to create more value and better business outcomes.

The excitement surrounding legal technology can often seem overwhelming. For this reason, it is important for GCs and in-house counsel to gather the necessary information and identify their team’s requirements before deciding which process to implement. In-house teams should also watch legal technology trends, explore their current toolkit first, then make a solid business case before seamlessly deploying the new legal technology that best helps their company.

About the Author

Rob MacAdamRob MacAdam is the vice president of corporate legal solutions at HighQ.

The information in any resource collected in this virtual library should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on specific facts and should not be considered representative of the views of its authors, its sponsors, and/or ACC. These resources are not intended as a definitive statement on the subject addressed. Rather, they are intended to serve as a tool providing practical advice and references for the busy in-house practitioner and other readers.