- Globalization has led to organizations doing work outside of their jurisdiction, which means that legal departments must do work in jurisdictions outside of their area of expertise.
- By creating transparency, which we define as what work is being done, why the work is being done, and how the work is being done, we can achieve integration within the legal department and collaboration outside of it.
- The supply of tools which manage standardized work and leverage business functions is substantial, but implementing the right tools correctly into your organization requires transparency.
- Working in jurisdictions outside of their own has led to a surge in offshoring and outsourcing legal operational work. To capitalize on these opportunities, organizations must clearly understand how their legal department functions.
- Transparency in the legal department is critical for the business to optimize the value derived from tools, outsourcing, and offshoring.
Achieving Integration and Ensuring Collaboration Through Transparency
Globalization has created a surge in organizational interaction and integration worldwide and has transformed the way business is done. Organizations frequently do work in countries and continents outside of their own, and this demands that organizations have knowledge in all the areas in which they do work. This increase in unique requirements has directly affected the responsibilities and expectations of legal departments.
To solve this demand for global knowledge capital, an enormous number of tools and vendors which supplement legal departments have emerged. Software exists for all kinds of operational work, from process management to data allocation and decision making. Outside counsel is also much more regularly relied upon for expertise in areas outside of an organization’s jurisdiction – differing laws and regulations demand different knowledge sets.
To work in this global economy, implement the correct tools for your organization, and hire the right counsel, organizations must first understand their legal department. Without transparency (which we define as what work is being done, how it is done, and why it is done), integration and collaboration are not possible.
Tools to Alleviate Standardized Work & Leverage Legal Functions
Countless tools have been developed to support Legal Departments for the purpose of removing overhead work, unnecessary tasks, and non-value-added effort from legal professionals. These tools leverage functions, enforce business rules, and ultimately reduce the likelihood of human error, which allows professionals to focus on the work itself, rather than the way the work is done.
Another outcome of these tools is that they have revealed areas where Legal can be providing value, which the department did not recognize before. Integration with other departments, automation of processes, and streamlining of decision-making frees up the time of legal professionals. But to implement these tools, the existing system and processes must first be understood – software requires set paths, set expectations, and set responsibilities. Once these are clear, the ability to remove human labour and automate standardized work becomes incredibly powerful.
Freeing up the time of lawyers is the primary benefit of the implementation of tools, but also relieving the responsibilities of legal professionals and administrative work is substantial. With correct implementation, time and money is saved across the board. This allows for individuals to spend their time on value-added activities. But to discover and implement the right tools for your organization is a matter of understanding how your organization functions and where it requires support. This understanding only comes with transparency.
Offshoring and Outsourcing Legal Processes
Globalization has created opportunities for organizations to work in new jurisdictions, frequently in other countries and continents. Working in these different areas presents unique challenges – different jurisdictions have different laws, expectations, and means of operations. Performing this work requires expertise which in-house professionals likely do not have; their knowledge and experience lies in their place of operation. And even if they do have the expertise, accreditations might not align; can a lawyer in the United States perform legal work in Kenya? The answer is not always clear, and as a result, organizations rely on offshoring and outsourcing their legal processes in these areas.
For clarity’s sake, outsourcing refers to the reliance on a third party who specializes in what needs to be done. While cost efficiencies are a factor here, this work is also typically beyond the expertise of your organization, and as such, is a requirement. Offshoring, on the other hand, is the sending of in-house jobs overseas. This is typically not due to a lack of expertise, but specifically for cost saving and resourcing constraints, and relies on skilled people from the global talent pool to reduce turnaround time. This frequently entails repetitive administrative work and standardized business processes which can be completed elsewhere to reduce costs and relieve effort on the in-house team.
To get value out of both offshoring and outsourcing, transparency in the legal department is required. Without understanding the processes and documentation within the legal department, it is extremely difficult to coordinate who is responsible for what, or how to choose a vendor. Only by clearly analyzing the existing department, their processes, and all their connections can you adequately plan for and decide on outsourcing and offshoring options. Determining who is responsible for what, and tracking all the movement within that determination, is complicated even with transparency. Trying to achieve this without transparency is near impossible.
Should we do the work in-house? Does it make sense to outsource, or to continue outsourcing? Should we hire in-house counsel? Without transparency, without documentation, and without clearly outlined processes and requirements, these questions are difficult to answer. But with the relevant knowledge in place and an understanding of the legal department at hand, you can begin to answer these questions and lay the foundation for long-term success.
Integration Within & Collaboration Outside
The demand for tools, offshoring, and outsourcing options was accelerated by globalization. Organizations recognized that there were opportunities in jurisdictions beyond their own, and as a result, people in these jurisdictions recognized an opportunity for work. Today, the number of tools available is substantial, and there is a seemingly endless global pool of offshoring and outsourcing options.
This onslaught of opportunity for all parties involved lead to organizations better understanding their Legal Operations. Optimal implementation of the tools and collaboration with the resources available demands transparency. What services do we need? Which tools provide these services? Which offshore or outsourced resources meet our needs? Organizations recognize that Legal can be providing value to the organization, which means Legal is viewed as a business that provides value, rather than simply a function of the business.
Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for our next article! Until then, be sure to check out our Blog for more Legal Operations discussions.