Why collaborating on technology is important for in-house counsel

Technology is the lever that allows in-house counsel to be more productive and effective

Perhaps the biggest benefit of communication technology—from the printing press to the Internet—is the democratization of information. Information that used to be limited to the very few now flows freely among many parties. A good technology columnist should facilitate the same: deliver information from a few experts to all those who can benefit from it. That’s my goal for this column.

I have been studying technology and its impact on the law department for more than 20 years. Some of you may know me from my consulting practice or as the publisher of the Law Department Operations Survey, which appears annually in InsideCounsel. We collect data on law department operations and try to explain what the data means. Others may know me as one of the founders of this very magazine, which back then had a less catchy title, Corporate Legal Times, but the same commitment. We wrote this in the very first issue in fall 1991: “The more we talked with and interviewed general counsel, the more we perceived that there was no forum to discuss their common business concerns. Here it is.”

My plan for this column is to continue to try to fulfill the magazine’s original objective by talking to those who select, implement, and advise on technology, and bring their insights and experiences to you. I do not plan to pontificate (much). Instead, I hope to provide real world, practical, implementable information on a monthly basis.

Why? Because technology is the lever that allows in-house counsel to be more productive and effective. It can be a key element in helping deliver on the law department’s promise of managing and mitigating the company’s risk. But technology creates risks of its own, so it is important to find the right balance. This column will focus on finding that balance. Here are a few of the topics we expect to cover:

  • Legal information security.General counsel are now consistently listing cybersecurity as one of their top concerns. One overlooked area is information security at law firms, and what in-house counsel should be doing to make sure their firms are protecting the corporation’s data, both at rest and in transit.

  • Big data. Data analytics provides possibly the biggest opportunity in history to simultaneously reduce a company’s legal spend and risk, especially if the information can result in better handling of matters and avoidance of disputes altogether.

  • Self-service legal.Some leading law departments are leveraging technology to save time by allowing business units to do more “legal work” themselves, in many cases by enforcing parameters within which the business unit can auto-create its work product.

  • Law department operations.Technology is a key element to law departments’ efforts to mature as businesses by implementing good processes through the department.

  • Electronic discovery.Much has been written about e-discovery. Still, the best in-house discovery managers have a wealth of experience and their lessons can have an enormous financial impact.

  • Getting more from outside counsel.It’s a necessity to optimize outside legal spend. Old and new technologies, such as electronic billing, unified matter management and budgeting systems, are designed to help with this.

  • Getting more from inside counsel. Often overlooked is the importance of optimizing the time spent by in-house counsel. Document management, document assembly and knowledge management are a few of the tools that do just that.

When we launched this magazine in 1991, publishing was a one-way street. We could disseminate information, but there was little opportunity for a conversation. This has changed (due to technology), and I look forward to taking full advantage.

Please let me know your perspective, your ideas, and what you’d like to see covered. Reach me at brad@blicksteingroup.com or on Twitter @bradblickstein. The whole point here is to facilitate in-house counsel to help in-house counsel use technology more effectively; let’s do that together.

Brad Blickstein

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