Effective Legal technology utilization can drive efficiencies for legal ops teams who choose to harness the power of these systems. In this rapidly growing field, there are big opportunities for companies that choose the path of digitization and automation, but with every venture comes some misperception and a desire to quantify the true value of these tools.
In this article we take on some common myths with Julie Johnson, Senior Manager of Legal Operations at Align Technology. Julie and her team were faced with an incomplete repository and tools that were not designed with legal in mind, which caused a lot of frustration for Legal and their stakeholders. With Julie’s leadership and the guidance of consulting firm UpLevel Ops, the Legal Ops team selected and implemented Checkbox, a workflow automation tool, to tackle the problem of the incomplete repository and lack of search functionality Julie provides insights on how her teams have achieved success by utilizing and customizing tech solutions at Align.
MYTH: The business will never use technology instead of Legal Services people, even for administrative or low-risk tasks. They want bespoke (human) help.
JJ: In my experience, the business is eager for more automated and less complex ways of bringing projects to completion. As a fast-moving business, any time we can harmonize the ﬂow of work from person to person, and system to system, is a value-add. For repetitive low-risk tasks, like NDAs or low-value agreements which are less likely to have redlines, processing systematically means that our in-house team can focus on more strategic or critical work, and our business partners can move more nimbly to achieve our goals.
MYTH: Having one tool that can address the whole enterprise’s needs is the most eﬃcient use of time and budget.
JJ: Typically, there’s no ‘one-size ﬁts all’ solution for the whole enterprise. We have incredible tools at our hands, but when you consider the customization required for legal contracts, documents, and their related variables (i.e., regional requirements, entity speciﬁc signatory requirements, variance in terms to be included based on location, dollar amount, time of work), we needed something truly customizable while nimble enough to be operated from and within the legal team.
MYTH: If you can’t ﬁx the whole problem at once, don’t ﬁx it.
JJ: Phased delivery of improvements is critical to forward movement. You have to show your team and business partners that there is a reward for the time they invest in helping design, vet, and launch workﬂow automation. Small wins keep teams inspired to push on while they also help to inspire new and greater ideas.
A good example of this is our launch of automated agreements. We are at the point where we have published automated NDAs for multiple regions and are very close to launching service agreements and inﬂuencer agreements for other practice areas and/or regions. However, on the ops side, we have not yet ﬁnalized an integration between our workﬂow automation tool and our contract repository. Rather than having this hold up the release of this automated solution, we proceeded to provide the solution to the business, and have invested in a very low cost-center to shift documents from the workﬂow automation tool, to the contract repository. To the end user, the process is seamless. Our long-term plan is to integrate the two, but we didn’t let this stop us from providing a solution to our end users.
MYTH: Once you implement a tool, your work is done.
JJ: I find myself reminding team members that workﬂow automation is not a plug and play solution. There is so much critical thinking involved in designing each stage of an automation process. In my opinion, it’s not a one-person job. I have been fortunate to have a team with complimentary skills to bring our apps to production, from project management, to interviewing stakeholders, to the transactional process of using the tool to build the workﬂow. It’s a true team eﬀort. Keeping existing apps maintained and updated when people in the process change, or requirements shift, is a truly important part of the digital transformation evolution!