Legal leaders are unknowingly creating a headache for themselves by adopting multiple point solutions and inadvertently having to use, manage and integrate multiple software platforms into their business. Technological advancements are supposed to make life easier - which they do - but the integration and adoption of digital solutions can cause problems. Imagine managing and using multiple point solutions during your day-to-day work - that’s a migraine - and the reality for most legal operations teams.
Legal operations as a role is still in its infancy; in-house teams are embracing and coming to terms with this new role. The general purpose of legal operations is to create efficiency, streamlining the high-frequency, low-value work done by in-house legal teams, allowing lawyers to spend their time and energy on more important things.
Yet with the conception of the legal operations era has come with a feast of niche legal point solutions, from document management, contract management, and e-billing software, which all create more accurate, efficient legal operations. At the outset, the onboarding of these legal point solutions to an in-house team seems like a foolproof idea, but the reality is that managing multiple tech platforms can be convoluted and inefficient.
An ecosystem of standalone technologies makes it near impossible to integrate them, firstly, to collect structured data, and then report across the various tools in a meaningful way. It’s a common mistake to think that different tech tools can talk to each other, as Instagram and Facebook do. Those apps are owned by the giant Zuckerberg entity, whereas novel legal tech solutions are generally independent and not configured to share data or interact with other platforms.
There are third-party BI tools that can do this, but this requires significant configuration and the onboarding of another point solution. With an end-to-end platform approach, seamless data is sharing across the platform, which can easily be surfaced within the same platform to drive better decision-making and easier reporting.
Lawyers On Demand has added to this narrative, saying, “Avoid too many point solutions. A perennial challenge across all functions – not just legal – is to ensure the short-term solutions don’t consistently override longer-term strategy.”
According to Sam Kidd, LawVu CEO, the true value lies in a platform that has modules designed to a) work together, and b) specifically tailored to in-house lawyers. “People in a legal operations role often get stuck with onboarding and training tasks as various point solutions are implemented across the team. Yet spending time training people to use multiple interfaces is creating redundant work when you could use one.”
Data collection, management, and tracking are a huge benefit that comes with using one the technology platform. Kidd describes legal data as unquantifiable, saying, “this also feeds into the fact that legal is probably one of the largest collectors of data across the enterprise but, equally, probably one of the largest incinerators as well. There is so much information that isn't being collected and reported on.”
This incarceration of legal data is a huge issue but ironically it presents a huge opportunity for the optimization of the legal team. If legal could understand their key metrics and create a data journey, the team can pivot from being a reactive business unit to a proactive one - which ultimately is the dream state for an in-house legal team.
Security is also strengthened by the use of a single-source technology platform. Legal teams hold incredibly sensitive company information regarding litigation, employees, employment issues, and sensitive IP, which ultimately is a risk. Protecting this data is critical, especially when it is vulnerable and stored digitally. Point solutions are generally secure software tools, yet the risk lies in the internal compliance required to manage multiple security statuses, bug fixes, and software updates. With a platform approach, you get integrated and consistent end-to-end business processes throughout all modules in the platform, saving your security team a massive headache and eliminating human error risk.
This brings us to customer support. When dealing with multiple point solutions you inevitably end up dealing with multiple providers, which can cause issues down the line. Although vendors promise legacy products they have either merged with or acquired, there can be disjointed customer support for these products as they weren't designed to work harmoniously with their platform. This can cause migraines for troubleshooting, onboarding, training, and maintenance in the future.
Scalability is another point to consider when deciding to integrate into one platform. As we discussed, security and customer support can be cumbersome with multiple providers, which means as your legal team scales in size, your work scales in volume, or the data you’re storing scales... it becomes difficult to scale multiple providers at once. Having one tech solution provider sets the legal team and business up for growth and expansion.
Lawyers don’t like change. They are already time-poor, and being risk-averse are naturally hesitant to adopt new technology. You only need to look to the fact that most law firms and in-house teams are still using Microsoft Outlook as their workflow tool. As such, change management is a crucial consideration when integrating legal technology into an in-house team, and it seems obvious that expecting lawyers to adopt and use multiple point solutions is no easy feat. Human capital is crucial to any business. As such, when implementing systems ease of adoption and end-user usability is paramount and should be key considerations.
The reality is that a business needs to make the decision when integrating technology on what is best for them. In the early stages of any industry, foresight is not always apparent. Taking the time to understand the pros and cons of using multiple point solutions allows any organization to make informed long-term decisions for their legal team.