Signing up for a cloud-based contract management system has the effect of better integrating the legal team with other business units in an organization, in-house legal executives said in a webcast.
The system makes it easier to manage and track contracts but it also gives staff in other units in the organization a view into contract status and lets them chat with the lawyers, which changes how the legal team is viewed.
“We found that implementing contract management into the business is a great way to open up legal more,” Andrew Lee, deputy legal general manager for Nissan’s Australian operations, said in a LawVu webcast. “Users have absolute transparency into where the contracts are and who they’re sitting with, and they’re easily empowered to go in and find their own contracts.”
The technology is one way to solve the problem of legal staff feeling isolated from other business units and therefore forced to react to problems rather than having a hand in shaping issues while they’re in their early stages.
“By really getting into their world, you’re in a much better place to understand what might be coming around the corner,” said Lee. “If there’s a launch coming, or some new technology rollout, then we’d want to get in there instead of waiting for the problems to come to us.”
When he came on board data security company UpGuard as its first general counsel, Theo Kapodistrias adopted a contract management system as part of a broader technology platform, which helped integrate legal operations into the wider organization right from the start.
“I was able to roll out a piece of technology of my choice,” said Kapodistrias. “Clients can check in with me regarding what the status of a matter is, and there’s a conversation part where I provide my advice. People can ask questions, and there’s a chain of everything there. So, technology has really helped structure how legal can assist the business.”
Kapodistrias left UpGuard late last year and is senior contracts officer at Tourism Tasmania today.
The data collected by the system is key too, because it lets general counsel spot trends sooner, which helps them support a request for more resources if that’s necessary.
“When you understand the work that’s coming in, the peak periods, you can start making decisions about resourcing,” Kapodistrias said. “Is there a heap of employment law matters coming in? If so, is that the point where I say I need to get someone with expertise in employment law come in to assist me? Is there a heap of IP matters–trademark or patents or whatever it might be? How much time does it take me to do it? Would it make sense to get additional resourcing? The data will help me make the decisions I need to make and it provides me the data to back it up, so I’m able to go and make my pitch.”
Both the legal team integration and the data generated by the platform can help general counsel in one other way as well, by helping the wider organization understand the value of the legal team to the business.
“When we had a paper-based approval system, the process required walking around the business,” said Lee. “There were a lot of delays, lost contracts, etc. The customer experience of that process was super frustrating. So now, having introduced this digital solution, we just don’t deal with those pain points anymore, so our reputation as a department has really improved in terms of being efficient and easy to deal with.”
More than that, Lee said, “we’re also free to spend that extra time and extra bandwidth focusing on customers’ key concerns and opportunities and not with routine admin. That obviously plays a key part in becoming a trusted advisor.”