Ops Digest #12: Let’s Get Real About Why We Need Innovation in Legal Tech

October 16, 2023
August 29, 2023
min read
Ops Digest #12: Let’s Get Real About Why We Need Innovation in Legal Tech

This is a preview of Ops Digest, our monthly newsletter for operations teams. This month, we're talking why need innovation in legal tech. Subscribe and receive this newsletter in your inbox every month!

There’s plenty of legal technology solutions available, and these tools can do amazing things. But sometimes we humans fall in love with tech for tech’s sake and lose sight of why we need new technologies. 

In the beginning of his book Paper (yes, that’s the actual title, and yes, it’s actually about paper), author Mark Kurlansky writes extensively about paper-as-technology. There’s one school of thought that new technology is what begets change, in both work and society. But Kurlansky takes the opposite stance: Change is what leads to new technologies. 

Societies find themselves in need of something to address some emerging demand. For example, at some point humans needed a better way to more permanently record, store, and share information. That need is what led to the written word, and also to the creation (and constant evolution) of paper. 

There’s so much that we humans, even in an extremely digital and connected society, have accepted as immutable. Good technology—especially, these days, automation and AI—chips away at many of those. 

One that’s bugged Legal forever? Forms. 

Even though forms are a critically important component of legal intake, they haven’t fundamentally changed much since the days when employees filled out legal forms with pen and paper: They still fill out static fields, manually find and input endless amounts of data, submit it, and wait around for a response, with little visibility into the status of their request. 

Even digital versions of legal forms typically remain frustratingly difficult to edit and customize on the back end, and building and maintaining related workflows is typically complex, cumbersome, time-consuming, and expensive. And the data integrations that organizations require to make their digital legal processes work are often subpar.

There’s a clear and obvious need for innovation around legal forms. That’s what led Tonkean to create its new AI-enhanced intake experience for legal teams. They’re dynamic and intelligent, meaning they adapt to whatever the requester needs as they go. They offer real-time data enrichment and an easy-to-use editor for building and modifying workflows. The forms are perfect for matter creation, contract reviews, and virtually any other kind of legal process.

That’s just one example. It’s a good reminder that legal tech can make a big impact, especially on things that we’ve all accepted as Just The Way Things Are. And that it’s important to look for technology that helps us work better and solve problems, not just go with the shiniest new thing.

Read this blog to go deeper on the issue. And check out Tonkean’s LegalWorks to see how this suite of legal technology can help you meet your goals and solve your problems.  

Up next in this newsletter: the latest news about the industry. 

Top of the Ops

  • Corporate legal departments have begun embracing AI (including generative AI—but with caution | Bloomberg Law
  • The global legal tech market is growing (especially in APAC) and is expected to hit $45.1 billion by 2030 | GlobeNewswire
  • Legal due diligence is changing; and it needs more advanced tools and technologies | Thomson Reuters
  • How to navigate change management when you implement new legal tech | Lexology
  • Surveys: 40% of legal professionals already use generative AI tools, or plan to in the future; and only 7% of legal professionals believe generative AI will have “no impact” on the practice of law | LawNext, LawNext
  • Tonkean announces new AI-enhanced intake forms for legal teams | Tonkean

Ops in the Field

Bloomberg Law recently published its 2023 Legal Ops and Tech Survey, in an effort to “comprehensively measure how these tools contribute value to daily operations in increasing efficiency and reducing costs.” It’s an important question—fundamentally, a type of ROI. 

Here are some of the salient findings:

  • In law firms, 58% of legal ops personnel have decision-making responsibilities over technology implementation. It’s 53% for budget management, 52% for procurement, and almost half for records management, vendor management, and training. 
  • For in-house lawyers, 60% of legal ops personnel have decision-making responsibilities over budget management. It’s 55% each for billing, contract management, training, and vendor management, and 53% for project management and technology implementation. 
  • Almost half (48%) of in-house lawyers participate in their organizations’ legal ops functions, and almost a third of the time (31%) they actually lead it. 
  • Not only did 43% of respondents not know if their organization has a formal process for measuring the value of legal ops, 26% of law firm respondents and 48% of in-house respondents said their organizations don’t have one. 
  • Further, the desired values for law firms versus in-house lawyers are different: Law firms focus more on timekeeping measures, while in-house lawyers focus more on legal spend. And although both want efficiency, their respective legal ops teams focus on profits and revenue (firms) versus keeping costs down and automating more (in-house). 
  • Top 5 legal ops goals this year? Increased efficiency, reduced costs, process automation, budget management, and knowledge management. 
  • More than half of all respondents said either their organizations don’t have a formal process to evaluate their legal technology, or they aren’t sure. But for in-house lawyers, the top metric is cost (53%), followed by overall legal department spend (49%). Other top metrics are internal feedback on legal technology use, ability to integrate with other technologies, and ability to automate processes. 
  • For in-house lawyers, the biggest barriers to legal technology use in their organizations are: budget, lack of integration, not enough time to learn the technology, lack of user tech savvy, and lack of familiarity with available technologies.

There’s much more in this report. Download it yourself to dig through and find what matters most to you!

Modern Business Operations

On this episode of Modern Business Operations, host Seth Colaner is joined by Tim Parilla, Chief Legal Officer at LinkSquares and Former General Counsel at DraftKings Inc. to talk about ways you can champion legal innovation within your organization. 

Seth and Tim discuss:

  • Getting the legal team to embrace innovative approaches.
  • Making data-driven decisions in the legal department.
  • Avoiding chaos in legal operations.
  • Making data that is tracked in legal operations useful.
  • The pain points that are solved with the legal tech stack.
  • Setting up essential processes for the legal team.
  • Understanding your influence as a lawyer in an organization.
  • Being a literate business person in addition to being a lawyer.

Maestro's Minutes

  • In this month’s Tonkean release notes, we added new input type widgets, so you can build form experiences using custom item interfaces. The forms are streamlined and responsive, to better empower self-serve requesters. We also added RegEx-powered field validation, to ensure requesters are entering the correct values, and you can now add a call to action button directly to a workspace app or custom item interface. Also! You can now add custom colors and branding to a board, so you can dress it up with your company logo and main color.
  • Dive deep into the ways you can streamline your legal processes with no-code automation and an AI-powered intake experience with LegalWorks! Get started here.

Thanks for checking out Ops Digest! To learn more about who Tonkean is or what we do, we have a few different kinds of trials that you can sign up for. They walk users through our most salient solutions, including Legal Intake, Purchasing Approval, Invoice Intake, and Email Inbox Automation. Sign up for one here!

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