The role of in-house legal teams is changing: the focus goes beyond simply law and litigation. Improving contract management, reducing departmental costs and increasing productivity often inform the goals of today’s legal departments. It’s a change that has led some businesses to transform, introducing a Legal Operations function to get ahead.
More than 7 in 10 lawyers are experiencing the impact of “increased volume and complexity of information” and an “emphasis on improved productivity and efficiency”. Yet, only 31% feel very prepared to address it.
Not every business is in a position to introduce a brand new function. But all businesses can work to address the impacts above with the power of automation. In this article, we look at what legal automation is, why it should be a priority and how using contract management software facilitates better processes for in-house legal teams.
What is legal automation?
Legal automation is the process of automating, streamlining and managing Legal tasks and activities through dedicated software. It focuses largely on the day-to-day processes used within legal teams to manage their daily workload - which are often manual, fragmented and time-consuming.
If your business hasn’t already implemented legal automation, it needs to be a priority for 2022. Not only will it put your business at a competitive advantage, it will improve your contract management processes and alleviate the increasing pressures experienced by your in-house legal teams.
Why you should invest in legal automation software
To start automating processes successfully, your business needs to understand its current inefficiencies. All contract stakeholders and the in-house legal team should come together to identify which processes are cumbersome, unwieldy or fragmented. These often include:
- Contract review processes that involve legal teams chasing other stakeholders
- Repetitive tasks that don’t require specialist legal knowledge such as NDA creation
- High levels of contract administration such as searching for contracts and clauses
Once you’ve identified areas that need to be streamlined, it’s time to remap your ideal processes. This step needs to be achieved before investing in legal automation software.
Legal automation within a contract management solution
Automating processes that aren’t working optimally will just cause the same issues on a greater scale. You should invest in legal automation software to create time-savings, cost-savings and increase collaboration beyond the legal team. While you focus on streamlining legal processes, the entire business should benefit from better processes.
Three reasons to prioritise legal automation in 2023
1. Create more time for high-value work
It’s no secret that in-house legal teams wear many hats. From resolving contract disputes to monitoring compliance, the in-house counsel’s high-value work is integral to protecting the business. But how much time do they get to dedicate to their areas of expertise?
When processes are manual, fragmented or include too much administration - senior legal professionals can easily be pulled into low-value, administrative tasks."
Examples of low-value tasks that often get left to Legal include searching for contracts, finding specific clauses and even uploading contract metadata.
These activities can be time-consuming, creating bottlenecks within the business that end up costing money too. Legal automation eliminates administrative tasks, creating time for high-value work.
Automating these activities can be achieved with contract management software. Gatekeeper uses a combination of artificial intelligence and automation so legal teams no longer have to spend time on manual data entry and looking for information. Instead, this valuable time can be spent on significant legal matters.
AI Extract automatically extracts key contract metadata and stores it against the master contract record in a centralised repository.
Meanwhile, Gatekeeper’s Global Search Engine - powered by OCR Search and Analysis technology - allows legal teams to quickly locate entire contracts and specific clauses within them. No more wasted hours required for contract administration.
Find agreements quickly and easily with Global Search from Gatekeeper
2. Modernise your processes and reduce time-to-contract
Is your legal team still sending contracts for signature via paper and pen or email? If so, this isn’t the only process that is increasing your time-to-contract. Tracking a contract’s process, chasing signatories for a response and then storing the finalised document securely and accurately all add to legal’s daily workload.
Legal automation can transform departments. But it can also speed up individual tasks - such as requesting signatures - that have a huge impact on overall processes. Aberdeen Research estimates that contracting cycles are cut in half through the use of automation."
Time can be saved in the signing process by using electronic signatures. eSign from Gatekeeper allows Legal to manage the entire process from contract creation to full execution - sending and receiving signed, compliant agreements at the touch of a button.
Rather than Legal teams having to chase signatories, alerts are automatically sent to their inbox when their signature is required.
They can sign contracts from wherever they are, on whatever device they are using and the signed agreement is stored against the master record. Automated rules can also be put in place to make sure signatories sign in the correct order or in parallel as required.
A complete audit trail is also created, providing a visual history of each stage of the signing process. It’s stamped with names, dates and times.
Automating the signing process isn’t just about saving the Legal team time. It improves the experience for any third parties that are conducting business with you. Creating efficiencies early on in the process leads to benefits further down the line. Reducing time-to-contract means the actual benefits of the contract can start to be realised sooner.
Generate unlimited eSignatures with Gatekeeper
3. Boost legal productivity by offering self-serve options
Legal teams are no strangers to unexpected requests from other teams. Types of requests vary from needing an update on a contract’s progress to creating NDAs and MSAs. These requests can be repetitive - and often don’t require a huge amount of specialist input from the legal team. However, high volumes of requests distracts legal teams from strategic work.
Gartner indicates that 25%–40% of a lawyer’s time is spent on tasks that don’t require a lawyer, resulting in $2.7 million in lost productivity for an average-sized business. Legal automation can alleviate this."
Contract management software not only offers legal automation. It offers automation that benefits every other department, while simultaneously freeing your legal team further. Self-serve options, such as Gatekeeper’s Touchless Contracts, allows teams to create legally-binding contracts, without consulting legal stakeholders until their expertise is required.
Working from a pre-approved clause library and contract templates, other teams can generate boilerplate contracts such as without interrupting Legal. This reduces hang time as a contract waits to be reviewed and approved, while minimising the workload of the legal team.
Create pre-approved templates to save time
Not only is contract and record generation automated, but the agreements can be autosent for eSignature and stored automatically with a complete audit trail. Legal can remain entirely hands off, keeping their focus on departmental work and boosting productivity in areas that truly matter such as risk and compliance management.
Legal automation via contract management software can save your business time and money. It can also boost the productivity of your legal team, freeing them up to focus on their specialist areas. Most importantly, legal automation can drive process improvements for your entire organisation when the right CLM software is implemented.
We’ve highlighted three reasons to prioritise legal automation in 2022, but this isn’t a comprehensive list. While we’ve addressed some immediate benefits for businesses that are still using mainly manual processes, legal automation can still benefit businesses with more mature contract management processes. It can also help legal teams to deliver ROI.
If you’re ready to make legal automation a priority and want to know how else Gatekeeper can support you, book a demo today.