How CLM technology can help transform Legal with Self-Service
The demands on today’s general counsel are many, complex, and unfortunately often in conflict with the wider business. Corporate counsels are their company’s traditional guardians, expected to protect the business against unnecessary risk from poorly thought out plans, regulators, unscrupulous partners, class-action lawyers, bad business processes and more. But with this traditional approach, business silos are as prevalent today as they were 20 years ago. As CEOs and business directors look to destroy them, the general counsel becomes the fall guy, often getting the bad rap for inhibiting progress in areas of business development-an area criticized for not being taught in law schools today.
But in the modern age, general counsels and their legal departments are increasingly expected to be business partners, collaborating with executives and functional experts in finance, HR and marketing to drive bottom-line results. Legal is being elevated into the C-suite alongside other functional leaders like the chief financial officer, chief human resource officer, chief strategy officers, and others to help CEOs break apart silos that prevent rapid-business decisions. In this regard, general counsels are also expected to become innovators—or at a minimum not preventing innovation—by helping their colleagues and IT test new ideas and technology at a rapid pace.
Technology Can Help Lawyers Lead the Way
The truth is, the corporate legal world has been much slower to embrace technology to help solve business problems and break down silos. Take the bread-and-butter tool for general counsels and front-line legal team: the business contract. Even at some of the most sophisticated organizations, contracts are still created in Microsoft Word and set in stone through PDF documents. Email is the primary means of conveyance and inboxes function as contract storage system. In the case of PDFs, templates are still fixed and any change requires intervention by a lawyer—who must edit the source word-processing document before handing it back to the business user waiting for it. This lawyer, by the way, is usually juggling a wide range of other demands, from regulatory meetings to HR issues, and the last thing they have time for is deleting a sentence from the document.