Increasingly, corporate legal departments are deploying document and email management systems. This technology has become essential for lawyers’ day today activities. Simultaneously, lawyers are recognising the need for better collaboration, both internally and with outside legal counsel, as well as the ability to reuse and re purpose information. They don’t want to unnecessarily ‘reinvent the wheel’, which often comes at the cost of productivity and efficiency.
Here are three signs your legal department isn’t optimising its investment in the document management system by using it for ‘business as usual’ knowledge management:
Outside legal counsel is your default for legal advice
Lawyers are constantly under pressure, but more so now as over the years, their roles have morphed into also being strategic advisors to the business. In reaction to unexpected internal business developments and requests (e.g. related to Anti-Money Laundering, HR guidance, etc.), if your lawyers’ default action is to reach out to external counsel rather than resorting to looking for information internally, it’s a clear sign that knowledge within the department isn’t easily accessible. This is potentially costing the department as external advice comes at a price.
There’s minimal team collaboration in the department
Often, corporate legal departments are spread across offices and geographies. If there isn’t a reasonable level of internal collaboration, it is a signal that there is possibly a lack of understanding of the expertise and knowledge that already exists in the department. As a team, it reflects a classic case of ‘they don’t know what they know’! Even worse, it could mean that they don’t know where they put the information that they had previously acquired!
Searching for insight is time consuming
A properly configured document and email management system provides easy to use structured electronic filing workspaces, usually centred around the matters they are working on. However, that is only the first step. If lawyers in the department struggle to find insight and knowledge that resides in those workspaces, there is room for better utilisation of the tool. For instance, lawyers should be able to easily find connections between content, people, expertise and knowledge, to surface information that is not apparent.
Already, corporate legal departments are utilising their document and email management systems for knowledge management. For example, we have helped the legal department at a global investment bank to create a central repository (that is managed by an internal Librarian) where lawyers can share precedents, law firm news, legal advice and so on with colleagues worldwide via the document management system. We have implemented a taxonomy that allows them to easily classify and store documents, redact information and even raise alerts if a document contains questionable legal advice. To ensure that lawyers submit content, they are actively measured on the amount of information they share. The project is currently in its early phase of adoption. However, the signs already are that the department will tangibly reduce expenditure on external counsel fees.
If this is an area you are looking to explore, get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. We will walk you through the process and leverage our extensive experience in such implementations so that you are able to maximise the return from investment in your document and email management solution.