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Why Legal Ops’ Next Big Push Will Go to the Heart of Corporate Legal Work

by Chuck Kellner

Legal operations professionals are on a roll. From contracts to e-billing to e-signatures, they are making it easier than ever for the enterprise to speed legal services and contain costs. 

What’s next for legal ops to transform? 

Follow the money. Most corporate law departments manage litigation, investigations, and arbitrations with outside counsel’s help. The recent rise in the cost of outside counsel has raised eyebrows, and legal ops should be paying attention. 

Many in-house counsel manage their disputes as best they can using generic office software tools and ad hoc processes. This approach limits visibility and control and may affect how risk is managed. Take these situations as examples:

  • Opaque Processes: When a new dispute comes in, the in-house legal team identifies and delivers emails, files and data to outside counsel or a hosting vendor. It may take weeks before the in-house team has any visibility into the data. 

  • Meandering Data: The legal teams manage many cases, and the hosting vendors make multiple data sets for different outside counsel, increasing the size of monthly billing. Deposition transcripts and exhibits reside among various firms, proliferating over time.

  • Disjointed Work: Workflows that are handed off to outside parties become disjointed if there are no collaboration tools or shared workspace. Insight and work product may be lost when the in-house team changes its selections of outside counsel. 

But for today’s forward-looking teams, that is changing. 

Growing numbers are taking control of costs by handling more matters internally – and using modern technologies to help their team scale. 

For instance, "The State of Corporate Litigation Today" report from the Association of Corporate Counsel and Everlaw revealed that nearly 60% of GCs, CLOs, and in-house legal professionals are looking to move more discovery work in-house to contain costs. Indeed, it was the #1 strategy for reducing litigation spend overall. The key advantages they find are greater efficiency, transparency, and control over the discovery and internal investigations process.

The benefits are substantial for legal ops to take the reins on automating, streamlining, and giving back control of disputes work to in-house legal teams. Legal ops can create workflows that save time and money , while letting in-house counsel quickly assess risk. Most importantly, by improving litigation and investigation work, the legal team can drive true business value – avoiding being pigeonholed as a cost center – through better risk management, compliance and protection of work product, intellectual property, and more.

A cloud-native, enterprise-grade platform for litigation and investigation lets legal ops teams build a deposition and transcript repository across the legal cases. These help internal clients manage and prepare more consistently from case to case. 

Enterprise-grade means that the most stringent requirements for security for law, government, and regulated industries are included. 

It also means economy of scale for both small projects and those that require many millions of files and messages. 

The ROI of managing litigation work in-house has all the attributes that attract the legal ops teams’ need to drive enterprise efficiencies and impact. Here are five reasons why: 

  1. Cost Containment: One law department improved the cost profile of technology and outsourcing for 182 cases. In just one year it saved $4 million for the company. Managing the volume of data sent to outside counsel dramatically reduces litigation spend. Having built-in in-house capabilities for data culling and filtering or "ECA/EDA" saves more than two-thirds of the volume of review and hosting. 

  2. Faster Cycles: By controlling their data, in-house teams can invite outside counsel to look at some hot documents while excluding irrelevant information from further review. One law department cut its DSAR response time by 50%, from 30 days to two weeks.  Many corporations are able to use their data collections, privilege review, and document coding from case to case when the subject matters overlap, saving, potentially, millions of dollars a year in routine litigation costs. 

  3. Controlled Risk: Any outside counsel needing data on the case can get credentials to a full or partial project, without re-processing or replicating the data set. Deposition prep and exhibits are stored in the same platform as the hosting and review, so you and your business clients can stay on message better from case to case and internally improve compliance and risk management.

  4. Metrics for Constant Improvement: OKRs are beloved by operations professionals, and the good news is that managing data in-house delivers the rich metrics needed to better manage the business. When teams control the data and technology, they also own all of the metrics, which help justify costs in similar cases and to perform genuine assessment of cost and risk. 

  5. Collaboration: Working in one platform managed in-house lets various team members see the status of work, collaborate, and gain real-time insights. And in-house legal can invite external partners to collaborate on as much or as little as the matter requires while gaining visibility into work handled by outside counsel.

In conclusion, the financial need to manage disputes efficiently is acute. The platform to do it is here today. The right change-enablers are ready to go. With this alignment, litigation and investigations are poised to be the new frontier for legal ops’ digital transformation.

Today’s in-house professionals are reimagining their approach to discovery and litigation by taking more work in-house, drastically cutting the amount of documents requiring eyes-on review (by 74% on average), and bringing unprecedented collaboration and transparency to their legal matters. That’s why Everlaw exists.

When it comes to litigation and investigations, don’t respond. Lead. See how with Everlaw at the CLOC Global Institute, May 15-18, at booth 115. Hear Everlawyer Chris Rauen explain “How a Single Solution Flexes to the Multi-Faceted Needs of a Team’s Discovery Process” in the Solutions Lab, Thursday May 18 at 10:15 am, Bellagio 3 & 4.