Why In-house Legal Counsel Can’t Do Without a Secure Communications Workspace
The power of technology-driven collaboration to drive organizational protection and cost efficiencies
As in-house counsel, if you’ve ever felt that you’re the last in the organization to know what’s going on, you’re not alone. It's an unpleasant reality, but the legal department is often perceived internally as a "cost center" and a roadblock to "getting deals done" in many businesses.
As General Counsel, your objective is to improve compliance and decrease legal risks throughout the organization. When colleagues avoid visiting in-house counsel because Legal is regarded as a bottleneck, your function as the organization's guardian is jeopardized.
Layer onto this the impact that remote work can have on communications amongst different teams, and the elevated potential for them to work together in siloes. The legal department – often a team of one – can quickly find itself ostracized in a very isolated silo.
So, when in-house counsel is the last to know about the Marketing Department’s ambitious campaign plans to attract more customers and boost revenue – which turns out to be fraught with legal, ethical, and financial risk – counsel’s role shifts from proactive advisor to reactive course-corrector.
Plus, when the campaign has to be significantly revised, launch delays that result in negative revenue impacts can ensue.
As far back as the 1950s, the concept of workplace collaboration became formalized through developments in project management. While collaboration between colleagues has undergone many changes since its inception, the pandemic-driven shift to remote environments for workers has greatly accelerated adoption of Collaboration Technology (CT) over the past two years.
Collaboration powered by technology – an effective business tool
Goremotely.net, a U.S.-based organization that helps candidates to find remote employment, recently published its list of “24+ Mesmerizing Workplace Collaboration Statistics for 2022”. It states that:
- Online collaboration tools and digital workplaces facilitate increased productivity by up to 30%
- Extremely connected teams demonstrate a 21% increase in profitability
- 70% of employees said that digital technology improved their collaboration
If seven out of ten employees successfully use digital technology in their workplace cooperation, the obvious outcomes are more effective teamwork and increased revenue.
Why implement collaboration technology in your organization?
Automation solutions that think and work the way you do can help you to elevate your position in the organization from cost center to valuable contributor, with benefits such as enabling you to maintain the visibility of your role or department within the organization, quickly and easily track and access important documents on legal matters, keep a close eye on important deadlines, and improve your organization’s legal processes in general.
According to the ACC (Association of Corporate Counsel), legal departments without a collaboration solution in place spend:
- 3X as much time creating a report
- 10X more time creating a matter
- 2X more time on legal research
The right collaboration software can scan all your documents to make them searchable and findable, turning them into data and providing you with a 360-degree perspective of all interactions with a client – in one spot. It can also generate consistent nomenclature for naming documents, making it easy to locate anything.
And, perhaps most important of all, it ensures that your communications are secure. You can confidently access a secure and dynamic workspace platform where you can share information with internal and external clients and partners, and communicate safely while adhering to privacy standards.
Of late, in-house lawyers are expected to play an increasingly important role in keeping the firm and its board of directors on track in terms of not just what is legal, but also what is ethical. In-house lawyers, like any other officer of the company with a fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders, investor community, and the corporation itself, could find themselves liable if preventable problems arise later – unless they play a proactive role as the legal and ethical compass for the company.
The evolving role of in-house counsel
Plus, aside from the benefits of easy interaction amongst various remote teams, collaboration technology addresses another issue that can keep counsel awake at night: the challenge of maintaining absolute security and confidentiality in the company’s business matters, in conjunction with the IT team.
“When lawyers get collaboration right – that is, do complex work that spans legal disciplines, business units, or geographies within their organization – they produce better business outcomes and attract and retain the highest-caliber talent.” – Heidi K. Gardner, PhD, Distinguished Fellow in the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School and author of Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos, published by Harvard Business Press in January 2017
No-one wants to wake up to find their organization featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal with an ethics scandal or a security breach.
Regardless of whether your internal stakeholders are all under one roof, or scattered across the globe, the efficiency of real-time collaboration and centralized documents makes business processes easier for all and increases the effectiveness of the entire organization.
Breaking down silos and harnessing geographies
The old adage that many hands make light work rings true in corporate communications today. Sharing in brainstorming activities, contributing to creativity, and leveraging strengths and resources to accomplish goals and tasks as a team yields better outcomes than silo- or solo-based work activity.
Smart collaboration helps in-house legal departments realize their full potential by allowing them to better utilize their current expertise and collaborate with other business divisions. Leveraging collaboration technology can mean the difference between a well-thought-out, legally vetted, and successful campaign, versus one that causes financial or reputational damage to the organization.
By breaking through the legal and non-legal silos within their own firms, General Counsels and their in-house legal departments have a huge potential to better manage their relationship with their external counsel. Sophisticated in-house lawyers are recognizing that by working together, they can get the most value from both internal and external counsel.
About the author:
Legal Suite is the worldwide leader in digital transformation for lawyers. We have delivered our state-of-the-art software for lawyers, law firms, and in-house general counsel to 65,000 users for over two decades. www.legal-suite.com
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