How to Build a Legal Team: Tried and Tested Truths
With insights from Onfido, we tackle how to build a legal team, from getting buy-in, to building a legal function that can scale.Learn More
December 6, 2022
Advances in legal technology, otherwise fondly known as LegalTech, have lit a fire under the legal industry in recent years. Driven to disrupt the industry for the better, LegalTech advancements have led to automated contract reviews, intelligent AI chatbots, and a new and improved era for legal operations.
And yet, adoption of LegalTech hasn’t been without its challenges. The legal industry has prevailed for hundreds of years, and it has picked up a certain way of doing things. So much so, that processes, tools, and traditions have become deeply entrenched. When faced with new-fangled tools that promise the world, it’s understandable that teams would be hesitant. Is it too good to be true? Will it waste more time than it saves? Or worse - is this simply a gimmick?
In this article, we outline some of the main challenges faced when introducing LegalTech to an in-house function. From selecting the right tool for the job to ensuring your team uses it, we count down our top three challenges, and how to scale them.
Necessity is the mother of all invention, and in the case of LegalTech, no phrase could be more accurate. As a direct response to the challenges faced by law firms and in-house teams, LegalTech is designed to scale the hurdles that face lawyers. But what are those hurdles?
Put simply, in-house teams are time-strapped, often overloaded, and face a long list of challenges that LegalTech is equipped to fix.
While rumblings of LegalTech began way back in 2011, it only began to experience a meteoric rise in 2018, when it experienced a record-breaking rate of growth at 713%. Phwoar. Since then, LegalTech has dominated the narrative, for good reasons, and bad.
In addition to being heralded as a “fix” for many of the growing pains of the industry, it’s also been met with scepticism. Often decried as “too good to be true” or “more hassle than it’s worth”, LegalTech has had to scale an uphill battle in proving its worth.
And, when one remembers that lawyers are in the 90th percentile for scepticism - compared to the general public at the 50th percentile - it’s easy to see the field faces a tough crowd.
So, you’ve finally grown weary of the wasted hours spent on admin, the days delving into old documents and the processes that belong in the dark ages. You’re ready to embrace LegalTech. However, does your team share your enthusiasm?
Below we describe the challenges you’re likely to face, alongside the solutions for getting your in-house team onboard.
Before diving into the world of LegalTech, it helps to really assess why you’re leveraging it. While you may have an assumption about the problem that needs to be fixed, does that reflect the experience of your team at large?
You may run the risk of implementing a new tool that simply tackles the symptom, rather than the problem at hand.
Take the time to explore the data behind the problems that your team is facing. Make sure that the information you have accurately reflects the problems being expressed. LegalTech can often be a hefty investment of time and finance, so ensure that your choice is backed by data.
One thing is true, you won’t have to travel far to secure the solution you’re looking for. However, it’s far more likely that you’ll be bombarded with choices, leaving you with a lot of head-scratching and research to do.
And yet, as an in-house lawyer, time for research is not something you have. So how do you whittle down the best of the lot, with the knowledge you’re not investing company funds into a sub-par tool?
You’ll quickly notice in LegalTech that there are a lot of tools, with a lot of overlap. Some will offer a full suite of services, while others will focus closely on doing one thing, and doing it well. To aid your decision, take the time to investigate what your priorities are, what priorities you can foresee in the future, and which things you absolutely can not compromise on.
For example, perhaps your tool needs to integrate with existing software within the business. Can your LegalTech connect to your CRM? Does it interfere with existing tools? Or can it seamlessly integrate with everything you need to get the job done?
Implementation is perhaps the most challenging aspect of LegalTech, not least because of off-the-chart ratings for legal scepticism. This scepticism is compounded by a lack of time, which lawyers are usually eager to reserve for matters that benefit their goals for the business.
If you’re unable to clearly make the case that a tool will measurably improve their working lives, you’ll find it almost impossible to encourage teams to embrace LegalTech.
It would be unfair to say that embracing LegalTech can be done in a day, and many tools will require an investment of time, patience, and training. Here, it’s crucial to get buy-in from the team to ensure that your new addition gets the best possible chance of success. It can be particularly useful to have a “product champion”. Someone who embraces the tool, understands it’s merit, and believes in its capacity to improve things for the team. Perhaps this product champion is you, or perhaps it’s someone already bought into the benefits of legal technology.
From here, you’ll want to conduct training for your in-house team, ensuring they know how to get the most out of the tool. Without a clear understanding of how the tool works, and how it benefits them, you may quickly begin to notice your team reverting to the old way of doing things.
Finally, it’s crucial that you monitor the use of your new implementation. Has the team continued to use it 3 months later? Has it improved efficiency, why, or why not? What are some of the problems teams face in using it? And where has it measurably improved things for your team and the business?
It helps to share these insights with your in-house team, to give them the proof of the pudding that LegalTech is their partner in crime.
We’re no strangers to the challenges that face in-house lawyers. Many of our lawyers honed their experience by working in-house, while others have spent successful careers supporting in-house lawyers throughout the UK.
Are you an in-house lawyer seeking a helping hand? Discover what we do to support in-house lawyers, from exclusive legal communities to on-hand support as and when you need it.