Morale of in-house corporate legal teams seems to be at an all-time low. It’s not hard to imagine why.
Legal teams are constantly being told to “do more with less.” Now, that mandate is hardly limited to the legal sphere. Virtually every job function in every type of organization is under marching orders to cut costs nowadays. But I believe the consequences of this cost pressure are especially demoralizing for corporate legal teams.
- Legal teams are bogged down with manually intensive tasks. Imagine spending three years and countless dollars putting yourself through law school. Now imagine spending the bulk of your workday chasing down information that end users didn’t include in their contract requests. There’s a disconnect there. When attorneys spend too much time on low-value tasks, they have limited bandwidth to focus on the high-value, high-risk work they should be doing. This is a lose-lose. The attorneys feel frustrated and under-utilized (and eventually under-valued), and the corporation loses out on getting the real value from their knowledge and skills.
- Legal teams are facing a backlog of contracts. Today’s increasingly complex business environment is generating a greater volume of work for corporate attorneys – and every team has its capacity limits. When turnaround time in Legal begins to lag, end users and their managers invariably begin to complain to executives. The legal department will then feel intense pressure to produce. It can be exhilarating to work at peak capacity for a week or two; it’s exhausting to do it for months on end.
- Legal teams don’t have the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. Most corporate legal software doesn’t offer the end-to-end visibility and control that legal departments need to run streamlined, automated contract processes. Attorneys are thus forced to patch together and manage manual processes. They know they’re working inefficiently, but there’s little they can do about it.
I hardly need to mention the retention risk that overworked, under-challenged attorneys present. So how can we turn things around?
Is Outsourcing Still the Answer?
Until recently, many legal departments would have addressed these issues by outsourcing some of their workload. But more and more companies are now asking Legal to take work back in-house as part of corporate cost-cutting initiatives. So, while outsourcing of low-level legal tasks (such as e-discovery) may still be an affordable option for some legal departments, companies are shying away from the typically high hourly fees charged by third-party law firms for more strategic legal work.
Savvy general counsels see the increase of in-house work as an opportunity to not only cut costs, but also improve the quality of legal services. In fact, fully leveraging in-house attorneys can give companies a clear competitive advantage.
But how can you get more strategic value – not to mention productivity – out of an in-house legal team that’s already overworked?
Focus on Contract Management Best Practices
Throw your overworked in-house legal team a lifeline by optimizing your contract management process. By doing so, you can:
- Save time and money.
- Reduce corporate exposure to risk.
- Increase end-user satisfaction.
- Free up attorneys to spend more time on high-value work.
Elegrity has identified 10 best practices that most often lead to greater overall efficiency for legal departments. Read them for yourself in the free white paper “Ten Best Practices for Efficient Contract Management.”