Tidying up your legal processes to boost productivity

Effective Legal Project Management (LPM) can make a big difference to how your legal team functions and makes the most of their time. Improving the flow and reducing the burden of tasks can only enhance performance of staff and their output.

Process improvement and automation can truly transform the way your team work, plus it pays to gather and analyse the data on the performance of your legal team. If you can narrow down who are your star players, who needs more support, what results are produced, you can balance out time and resources for greater team performance.

We’ve outlined some of the ways tidying up your legal processes can help you drive forward.

Margin gains add up

Let’s first understand how tidying up processes of individuals in a team impacts on overall performance.

Take for example the approach of the Team GB coach for cycling, who achieved so much in the London Olympics in 2012. Sir David Brailsford stated: ‘If you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike and then improved it by one percent, you will get a significant increase [in performance] when you put them all together.’

As a coach he scrutinised every single detail possible so that small improvements could be made, and not just by improving the bikes and fitness of the athletes either. He took the concept to extremes and looked at everything from washing hands correctly to kill germs and the right pillow for proper sleep. Whilst these are the sort of things that seem irrelevant, they were actually part of the overall performance of the team and their health and wellbeing which ultimately would impact their wider performance.

It was the aggregate of marginal gains that created a large gain overall – and this strategy is now used across many industries as a brilliant way to make a difference by neatening up clumsy, inefficient processes.

Rely on software that makes your life easier

Let’s look at instances in legal process management where a new efficiency could benefit a client and your legal team by automating a mundane but crucial or necessary task.

If you take an hour searching for clauses in a contract that software could identify for you instantly, then you are losing out on a significant improvement in efficiency. For instance, if your client’s contract has a price renewal which is on a specific date, that information can be captured by software and brought to your attention or acted on automatically.

A good contract management system interrogates data in a contract so the important clauses are identified, flagged, and can be acted on.

There are many high volume, low value documents that might need processing – such as Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), which are a drain on productive time. By automating this kind of process, you might stand to achieve significant time savings.

NDAs can be put together using templates and using software that means your client merely answers questions to generate the relevant NDA, your team can simply check NDAs and use spare time to focus on more critical performance related legal work.

Process improvement is often about identifying the little but necessary jobs that drag your attention away from the most important ones and finding a way to speed up their execution.

Step outside and look back in

Another example of saving time is to copy the best practices and processes of others that have already achieved them, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. Identify a similar (not competing) industry to the one you are in and copy what works well. Businesses may have differences but they also have many similarities in legal and business areas, which can inspire you to make changes to your processes.

To identify weaknesses and drains in processes, it can be beneficial to employ someone independent who is not entrenched in the company. There is a real possibility that people in an organisation can become ‘snow-blind’ to problems and the way they carry out processes. Someone who comes in from the outside of the company can often spot issues easily that can be improved on. However you choose to tackle inefficient processes, be sure to take a step back from your position, view the business and the way the legal team operates as another entity for a second and you might just notice that some of the daily routines, and therefore results, could be improved upon for all involved.