Everyone wants to achieve efficiencies in the corporate world, but how much can an investment in in-house training for legal departments have on making things run more smoothly and save money? Quite a bit, according to a recent study by research firm Gartner, Inc., which surveyed more than 140 companies across geography, industry and revenue to determine the drivers of cost-effective legal departments.
The research looked at how in-house legal departments can improve themselves, in terms of both quality and efficiency. It found that the most cost-effective legal departments allocate almost twice as much of their in-house budget to training than their higher-cost peers. In addition, the most cost-effective legal departments don’t just train once and forget it; they commit to a strategy of continuous improvement in their in-house capabilities – including training, standardizing legal work, and allocating more of their total legal work in-house.
Developing in-house training for legal departments
Any investment in in-house training across your whole organization can reap rewards, but there are specialized benefits to training your legal team. When thinking about the in-house training needed for your legal department, consider the following aspects of the in-house legal team.
Upskilling existing staff
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Gartner study found that those legal departments that outsourced less achieved bigger efficiencies across the board. By investing in in-house training for legal departments, the in-house counsel can be used for some of the work that may currently go to outside counsel. Gartner found that law firm expenses make up 93.5% of a legal department’s external spend.
As the in-house counsel are more familiar with business operations, they can perform the work more efficiently while also becoming an informed, go-to contact for a strategic business matter. Investing in in-house training to upskill in-house counsel, or even helping current administrative staff to take on more of the legal admin legwork, can bring huge benefits to the in-house legal department.
Those legal team administrators could step into the growing role of the legal operations associate. Gartner found that departments without legal operations capabilities spend 30% more than those who have that capability in-house, likely because legal operations teams embed a data-driven approach to how the department runs.
The legal operations function has been described as the engine of an in-house legal team and constitutes one of the fastest-growing arms of the legal profession. It’s seen as a multidisciplinary function within a legal department that optimizes services delivery; it can deliver improved efficiency and develop better work processes, especially across governance and compliance. If your in-house legal department doesn’t already have a dedicated legal operations team, investing in in-house training for the legal department to upskill employees can return dividends.
Governance and compliance
Of course, the ongoing work of governance and compliance often falls to the in-house legal team, and those are two functions that require constant monitoring and evaluation. The entity, risk and governance managers employed by an organization take a huge burden onto their shoulders – one step wrong and they can cause the company to suffer fines and reputational damage at least. Why wouldn’t you invest in in-house training for legal departments when the very reputation of the company is at stake?
Investing in in-house training for legal departments to keep them up-to-date on the latest compliance and governance thinking should be coupled with an investment in entity management software to streamline operations and give these all-important workers the space and time to think more strategically about their work. The Thomson Reuters Legal Tracker Customer Survey found that 41% of in-house legal teams say that it’s a priority to use technology to simplify workflow and manual processes – but that’s still 59% of in-house legal departments that could invest in in-house training and technology to improve efficiency and end results.
A growing number of lawyers are choosing in-house legal careers; statistics from the UK’s Law Society show the proportion of in-house lawyers has grown between two and three percentage points every five years since 2002. This growing number of in-house lawyers, though, requires help to maintain their skill levels.
Investing in in-house training can not only help ensure your in-house legal team stays up to date with current practices, but also shows how much the organization values their contribution. The quickest way to disengaged employees is to let them neglect their skills and not pay attention to their careers or well-being, whereas embarking on continuous improvement of standards and skills benefits both the employees and the organization itself.
Introducing technology to help boost in-house legal efficiency
Of course, humans can only go so fast and so far; the modern governance organization understands the greater impact that introducing technology can have on boosting in-house legal efficiency. This is especially true where work is repetitive; Gartner found that, on average, 63% of in-house legal work is routine or can be standardized, and this is just the place where technology can step in to help.
Standardizing workflows and automating basic, repetitive processes can not only reduce the risk of manual error, but also free the in-house legal team to pick up some of those higher-level tasks. The in-house legal department can then work to only outsource the most complex legal work, upskilling employees to take care of the rest, and improve cost-efficiency even further.
While there is, of course, an initial investment to be made, technology such as entity management systems can increase efficiency and transparency to such a level that the return on investment is seen quickly. This software goes beyond a mere document storage system these days; in fact, Diligent Entities integrates with the board portal (Diligent Boards) and a secure file-sharing platform to create the Governance Cloud, an all-in-one ecosystem for corporate governance.
Diligent Entities creates a central repository for the corporate record, storing entity information, documents and organizational charts in a highly secure format to create a single source of truth. In-house legal teams can manage the ongoing accuracy of the corporate record using compliance calendars, reminders and workflows for better data, enabling them to surface the right information to the right people at the right time.
Coupled with an investment in in-house training for legal departments, entity management systems can help achieve greater efficiencies in terms of both time and resources. Get in touch and request a demo to see how Diligent Entities could help power your in-house legal team.