Stay in Step: 5 Must-Have Workflows for Legal Operations, Part 1
In modern corporate legal departments, what are the key Legal Operations workflows to automate in order to succeed?
Workflows are the most fundamental components of how any organization operates. That’s certainly true of Legal Operations workflows.
The most basic definition of a workflow? An orchestrated, repeatable series of tasks involving people and processes, driving to desired outcomes. Or, to put it more simply, the process satisfies, “if this, then that.”
We manage and participate in workflows all the time, both in and outside of the office. When you drop a kid off at school, for example, you’re operating as one part of the school day workflow.
This is an example of a workflow that resists automation. When you get an email from the library letting you know that a book will be due in two days, you’re a part of their automated workflow.
Your next action – whether you decide to return the book, request to renew, or just forget about it – is one that the library can handle automatically without any particular librarian worrying about it or flipping anxiously through a card catalog.
Why automate Legal Operations workflows?
We don’t want to automate the human, everyday tasks that feel good or require the work of a particular person with particular skills. But when it comes to triaging questions, approving requests, and signing and archiving documents, an automated Legal Operations workflow is often the best way to go.
The “repeatable” aspect of manual Legal Operations workflows is what often inflates costs, frustrations, and dire consequences for an organization. Simple human error inevitably produces hiccups in repetitive processes, whether it’s a misrouted document, an incorrectly completed form, an un-archived contract, or another such snafu.
Once you understand your business requirements, your next task is to find the right way to automate the process. By deploying an effective solution, you’ll save time, money, and stop waking up in the middle of the night, wondering whether you should have followed up on a request. It’s time for some restful sleep!
Workflows can help manage internal and external operations
In Legal Operations, it’s no longer simply a matter of improving internal efficiencies and ensuring that corporate goals are met. The entire legal ecosystem your enterprise employs can now be managed using workflow automation tools – and it should be.
Here’s an example of a workflow that can be used to make that a reality.
A Legal Operations workflow for diversity review
By automating this part of your diversity review process, you can securely and privately understand the diversity metrics of your timekeepers and outside service providers. The challenge, in this case? Companies now increasingly need to track the diversity metrics of the outside providers that they use. These metrics are part of the 360° view that a company needs to use to confirm with whom they work, and it’s important to keep this information secure and ready at hand.
Some common questions that companies try to address in devising such processes:
- What information should we include in our metrics?
- What’s the best way to integrate this?
- How do I do this securely?
The solution? With an automated workflow that incorporates online forms and is used by these outside providers, you can capture and record relevant biographical and diversity data at either a firm or timekeeper level to allow your internal users to easily see whether or not a diversity metric has been met.
Being able to do that quickly and consistently, across your entire legal ecosystem, is an essential part of avoiding risk and assuring that you’re working with outside counsel, ALSPs, and other providers who fit into your DEI strategy.
“We decided to include diversity in metrics because lots of places look at the financial layer, but we explored what’s important to legal groups and is really driving buying decisions. Diversity is really driving buying decisions.” — David Cunningham, CIO at Winston & Strawn