Turning Time into Money: 3 Ways to Increase Your Legal Department’s Profitability with Technology
For everyone, but especially for legal teams, time is money.
In a recent Artificial Lawyer article, a survey found that 67% of in-house attorneys at fast-growth companies felt buried in low-value work. Accordingly, increasing profitability within legal departments has as much to do with saving time as it does with cutting costs, automating low-priority tasks, or “doing more with less.” We are seeing more and more legal teams put this into practice by focusing on time-saving measures to improve their productivity and increase output. Here are three ways thought leaders are leveraging technology to reduce admin lift, accelerate daily processes, and increase profitability for their legal departments.
Cutting Down Distractions with Workflows
It’s no surprise that distractions cut into our productivity– and for legal teams, into billable hours. With an onslaught of new technologies that promise better communication comes an assortment of new dings, pings, slacks, chats, and more. We aren’t saying that these new modes of communication aren’t game-changers– they are– but for work that requires deep focus, new methods of communication can feel like a double-edged sword.
We believe that great communication is one of the factors that differentiate between legal teams that are merely functioning and legal teams that are thriving. And we actually don’t think that it is the form of communication that is really at issue, whether we are thinking about email, chat, or (ye olde) phone. But when these messages are repeated escalations or follow-ups on lingering requests, we know that there is a better way. Legal departments can improve their focus by bringing repeatable, scalable tasks into workflow systems that take care of themselves. A do-not-disturb setting can be a stopgap hack, but a system that takes care of delays and eliminates confusing back and forth on the back end really improves productivity and gives lawyers time back to do what they do best: turn time into money.
Consolidating Data with an Organized Audit Trail
A recent report from Carnegie Mellon shows that 37% of the time that someone checks their email, they will postpone responding to it. This confirms a common experience: that we can waste just as much time looking for an email as we can following up on it. Savvy teams are doubling down on time management and cost savings by focusing on email. The fact is: business-critical emails should not exist as just emails. Emails that push forward workstreams related to eBilling or matter management should be automatically pulled into an audit trail in your single-source-of-truth system. That way, time spent looking for important information can transform into lawyers knowing exactly where business-critical information lives and how to act on it.
Reducing human error
In a recent survey conducted by ALM research, we found that only 12% of survey respondents agreed that their legal tech stacks were “very integrated,” and an overwhelming majority found plenty of room to improve. We know that during the pandemic, there was a mad rush to implement technological tools to enable lawyers to do their jobs from home and in a confusing and quickly-changing environment. But now that an abundance of technologies have been set up and compete with each other for technological dominance, they often lead to duplicated entries– which is a major cause of human error.
Sometimes, we say that this abundance of technologies leads to “swivel-chair integrations,” meaning that after you input data in one system, you swivel your chair to your other monitor and plug in the details once more into the next spreadsheet or system. Although a single-source-of-truth will always be the holy grail for law departments looking to keep their cases managed and organized, those who are not ready to implement one must start blending the edges of their technologies such that they are able to communicate with each other. Without clear, instant, and automated integrations, information is duplicated by hand – leading to human error and outsized fines or costs.
Even when a solution does not have its own out-of-box integrations, using a workflow tool on the back-end can act as a sort of skin that connects otherwise disparate solutions together. As legal professionals get a handle on the new normal– one in which we take the maxim that the only constant is change quite seriously– we recommend spending time working towards a single source of truth, or at the very least, connecting and integrating the technologies that otherwise compete for primacy.