The good news for corporate counsel is that their budgets are rising. In fact, the median legal department budget increased by 10.7 percent in 2011, according to Corporate Executive Board. This trend appears to give GCs more options and more flexibility when it comes to outsourcing important tasks to outside counsel.
Yet budgets are not infinite. Today, savvy GCs are collaborating more closely with outside counsel to make sure that projects are as streamlined as possible and that everyone is collaborating to find efficiencies—while still maintaining the highest standards for due diligence.
These efforts include leveraging new technologies to help make workflow processes more efficient. Traditionally manual, paper-based processes need to be automated to help firms manage their transactional work. At many law firms today, reduced staffing, increased demands from clients and the shifting roles of attorneys and paralegals are prompting a drive to do more with less.
GCs can find a win-win situation by working with law firms that have invested to streamline their operations and are using technology to simplify workflows and reduce duplicative processes such as manual rekeying of information. These investments also include the tools and training to make associates more efficient. Today’s associates can often be found doing the work of paralegals—and vice versa. Automating manual tasks can help all of them handle larger and unfamiliar workloads—and take on more of the strategic work clients require.
Today, more than ever, GCs need accuracy and efficiency when it comes to the due diligence process. For example, paralegals can spend an estimated two to 50 hours per transaction rekeying and reorganizing lien search results into charts for attorneys. With accuracy and speed as competing priorities, a simple data-entry mistake can have expensive repercussions. Fortunately, there are technology solutions available to law firms to help them deliver better price value—and accuracy—to their corporate clients.
Where associates and paralegals once had to manually create spreadsheets to organize public record search results for review and analysis, this tedious task can now be done with web-based software. Such software provides associates and paralegals with quick, comprehensive and accurate chart summaries of public record search results with collateral descriptions, links to document images and other time-saving features. These solutions can even auto-populate chart content from the public record into a chart summary, which reduces manual re-keying and decreases errors. Another valuable function of this software is the ability to automate manual processes, such as follow-up steps like filing UCC-3s, to increase accuracy and improve time savings. Other features found in best-of-breed applications include organizational and workflow tools to keep due diligence processes running smoothly.
Today’s software is easier than ever to use, enabling associates and paralegals with varying degrees of technology expertise to perform their jobs better. These applications also free up paralegals to do other, more valuable, work—a win-win-win for the employees, their firms and the GCs who work with them.
With so much pressure on the GC’s office today, the last thing legal departments need to worry about is managing the potential costs and increased complexity of projects such as outsourced lien searches. By choosing the right outside counsel that has, in turn, chosen the right people and right technology to streamline the job, the general counsel can rest a bit easier knowing that all the key risks are being managed appropriately.