Workflow Automation? It's a Do-or-Die Decision for Legal Ops

by Mitratech Holdings, Inc
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“Pressure from outside organizations means automation isn’t just a luxury – it’s a necessity for companies that need to compete for talent and protect their enterprise,” Claire Wiggill, VP of Strategy and Business Development at PMG, states in her recent post focused on 4 Reasons to Automate Employee Onboarding.

While Wiggill specifically focuses on the implications of workflow automation for HR, many of her points are applicable in the legal operations space too. Like the fact that legal workflow automation actually protects an enterprise. Not to mention, in this age of rapidly evolving technology, forward thinking legal departments must make a decision to move forward or suffer the consequences that come from using outdated, ineffective methods.

There are many benefits to taking the necessary steps today to transform legal operations, including tightening up compliance processes, securely connecting legal to the rest of the organization and empowering the legal team to focus on law.

Don’t Leave Compliance to Chance

In today’s constantly changing regulatory environment, it can be hard to keep track of everything you need to do to stay compliant. Because of this, many legal departments are trapped in a cycle of reacting to compliance and risk issues, rather than taking a proactive approach. At times, this cycle can feel impossible to break because a) the legal department’s own manual processes are inefficient and time-consuming, and b) legal and compliance process best practices aren’t embedded elsewhere in the organization, even though that’s often where they’re needed most.

With legal workflow automation in place, compliance and risk mitigation aren’t left to chance. In fact, legal ops innovators have found that best-in-class, SaaS-based workflow automation solutions can automatically document everything and provide a clear audit trail of where everything’s been and who’s been involved. Managers gain full accountability for a process and can pinpoint exactly where decisions were made, who made them, and how and why legal matters (and any other type of legal workflow) moved forward.

Automated workflows ensure that anything that needs approval makes it to the right person of authority to provide that sign-off. Best-in-class legal workflow automation solutions even feature out-of-the-box integration with e-signature providers like DocuSign and Adobe Sign to ensure the security of every approval. Nothing slips through the cracks, everyone’s held accountable and regulators can gain clear insights into an organization’s compliance function.

“From a single point of data entry and a few initial clicks, the entire process is orchestrated, and each department knows exactly what it needs to contribute and when,” Wiggill states.

This type of automation isn’t just good for the compliance function, it’s good for the entire business. You could argue that legal workflow automation is actually the future of compliance. Or at least the future of keeping companies compliant.

Legal departments currently adopting legal workflow automation are already looking towards  that future. They understand tomorrow’s compliance challenges are trending towards being more numerous and varied than ever and are taking steps to meet those challenges head on.

Keep Legal Data Safe While Still Connecting  

Prior to workflow automation integrating with a legal management platform, the main issue most corporate legal departments faced was trying to manage requests from outside their department.

How do you handle a request from a sales representative for legal to review a contract, for instance? Or a request from someone in finance for legal advice? The truth is, the legal department touches so many more parts of a company than just the legal department. Legal receives a wide range of requests from across an enterprise. Trying to manage everything via email – especially in large organizations with thousands of employees – can be a total nightmare. Yet legal professionals understand they cannot sacrifice the security and confidentiality of legal documents for the convenience of managing interdepartmental requests.

While most enterprise legal management systems require a user to have full, licensed access to the platform to be able to submit requests, adding a workflow automation (like TAP), grants access for users to submit requests directly to legal, without compromising the system’s security.

This means that people from all over an organization can submit legal requests in an efficient way, without gaining access to sensitive legal information or data. This protects an organization by keeping its legal data safe, its matters confidential, and other department’s noses out of legal’s business. All while plugging legal departments and best practices deeper into the heart of an organization.

Remove Distractions So Lawyers Can Focus on Law

Imagine that a legal operations process is like a puzzle. You could have 50 pieces, 100 pieces, maybe even 1,000 pieces you need to fit together each time you conduct a process to complete the full picture. These puzzles could include different tools, different people, different departments and different skill-sets that come together to complete the whole. Until now, this all had to be tracked and managed manually – consuming  hundreds of hours of wasted staff time. This “traditional” approach leaves frustrated lawyers wondering how they could get back to what they do best, and to what best protects their company, which is to practice law.

Workflow automation provides this liberation. Legal Ops embrace it in order to leave behind the “pain of the mundane” to focus on what’s important – doing the work, not wrestling with workflows.

Adobe Research found 81% of U.S. office workers ranked up-to-date technology as a key factor in keeping them happy on the job. If your company can implement tools that drive efficiency so people spend less time on process and more time on creativity, you’ll not only drive greater productivity and profitability, you’ll also inspire happier employees.

“Although they don’t see it, employees benefit from automation before they walk in the door,” Wiggill states.

Because legal reaches into every aspect of a business, SaaS workflow automation technology is a necessity for the new world of legal operations, since it closes gaps that leave companies subject to risk.  

To protect an organization, setting up automated business processes is more urgent now than ever. For many legal operations teams, adopting a legal workflow automation solution that’s been designed expressly to meet legal needs and those of their internal clients and stakeholders is helping them already address today’s demands, while providing a firm foundation for addressing tomorrow’s challenges.

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