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Wiring the Mind of the Digital Law Department

By Daniel Reed, Chairman of the Board

Businesses are in hyper-drive and innovating at a spectacular pace to keep up with multichannel consumers. The C-Suite increasingly expects in-house counsel to radically respond to the business and deeply understand the complex issues the enterprise is facing from multiple facets.

One piece of anecdotal evidence is highly representative of the current state of play: Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, recently confirmed Microsoft has seen two years’ worth of Digital Transformation occur in late 2020. The effect of Digital on competition and customer demand is profound and increasing.

To rise to the occasion, law departments are poised to completely transform their operations to ramp up the delivery of service to the business. According to a Gartner study, digital investments of law departments will expand three-fold by 2025.

But, buying software is not enough to meet the elevated expectations of the enterprise. Without culture change, GCs could risk failing to deliver a return on all those investments in digital transformation.

Digital is a mindset. Digital is a new way of doing business. You have to create new pathways in the hive mind of your entire department. Reimagined training is core. It’s a commitment. With digital, you are in or out. There is no in-between.

In addition to transforming internally, digital will demand that law departments more aggressively reach out of their traditional focus areas and double down on their commitment to customer service by forming deeper bonds with senior leaders across the enterprise. The success of digital will largely hinge on the willingness of in-house counsel to actively collaborate with their internal clients to anticipate challenges and foresee opportunities.

Of course, lawyers are naturally risk-adverse, but they are also incredibly creative with infinite capacity for collaboration and innovation. In pivoting to face the customer and serve the business, senior in-house counsel position themselves to expand from risk manager to value creator and from gatekeeper to game changer.

Here are some specific steps senior counsel can take to start to wire the mind of the digital law department:

  • Shake the etch-o-sketch – baseline the perception and reality of connectedness between the business and law department
  • Harness industry leading tools to drive data-driven decision making and gain highly sensitive visibility to customer needs and resource availability
  • Blur the imaginary barriers between in-house, law firm, law company, etc. to build a strong coalition that can serve the business
  • Collaborate with the business to create ambitious goals for automation, customer engagement, and revenue generation that reflect the digital mindset
  • Commit to establishing quality, enlightened metrics

Many in-house attorneys worked at law firms before their corporate law department days. They get what it takes to cater to clients and generate business. That customer service mindset will serve as an asset for GCs driving digital transformation.

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