Legal Operations (or Legal Ops) is a multi-dimensional role that sits at the intersection of law with various other disciplines such as finance and budgeting, technology, risk management, project management, vendor management, knowledge management, data analytics, etc. Such roles tend to be more visible in an in-house set-up but law firms have had Chief Operating Officers or Chief Executive Officers who take over this role.

Legal Operations is a borrowed discipline. Its roots lie in Operations Management which is a field that focuses on maximising business efficiency through various processes that involve planning, prototyping, task management, organising, and outcome-based work delivery. 

The primary flow of Operations Management is as follows:

  1. Gather Data: Data gathering involves collating different sets of data from previous projects that a business has undertaken. These data sets could include employee’s performance, work time, efficiency, client satisfaction, costs, etc. 
  2. Analyse Insights: Once data has been gathered and organised, it needs to be analysed, to make it useful for future references and increasing the overall efficiency of the business. 
  3. Build Impactful Strategies: After analysing the data, it is used in a manner that strategies are built for future projects. These strategies aim to eliminate any encumbrances the data would have identified, and primarily builds tools and methods for greater results. 
What is Legal Operations?

The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), a global community that aims to redefine business standards in law practice, describes Legal Operations as, 

“a set of business 

  • processes, 
  • activities, and
  • professionals 

who enable legal departments to serve their clients more effectively by applying business and technical practices to the delivery of legal services. Legal ops provides,

  • strategic planning, 
  • financial management, 
  • technology expertise 

that enables legal professionals to focus on providing legal advice”.

According to the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), “Legal Operations is the function within the office of the general counsel that takes responsibility for efficient and effective delivery of legal services for the corporation. Dedicated legal operations staff focus on: 

  • optimizing how people, processes, and technology are deployed, 
  • leveraging data to inform decision-making and 
  • performance management.”

 

Why is a Legal Operations team essential?

A major chunk of the lawyers’ time is spent on documentation and administrative work. Manually keeping records of clients, tracking billing, managing, and communicating with vendors (including outside counsel) can come at the cost of inefficient legal services. 

Legal Operations steps in as a department with transferred ownership of all administrative tasks and efficient business and technology application. 

With this shift in responsibility, Legal Operations contributes in the following manner: 

  • Increases efficiency of lawyers in core legal practice (higher quality of legal work)
  • Increases ability to form strong partnerships and propel inter-functional collaboration with various other departments such as finance, IT, HR, etc. This brings more capabilities to the project, maximizing the success rate.
  • Brings more value to the table, by accelerating business through risk mitigation and strategic planning.
  • Ensures resource efficiency for lawyers through various methods of knowledge management, latest technology tools support, etc. 
  • Helps in the growth of the business through regular data analytics by providing metrics and strategies for improvement. 

 

Evolution of Legal Operations
Source: Simple Legal

The pre-1990s were marked with first trying to reduce their vendors’ costs (outside counsel), and focused on risk management. The aim was to reduce the internal costs of the firm. Only a few firms had dedicated Legal Operations teams (eg: General Electric, Bank of America), the trend was still unheard of. 

Post 1990s- 2000s were marked with similar efforts of reducing costs, but, outside counsel was relied upon, for efficiency and their strategic value. 

The next two decades saw a shift in perspective, where firms focused on building value within the business, to avoid looking for assistance outside, this brought greater reliance on Legal Operations. 

The present decade has seen a further shift in perspective, where innovation and efficiency is the main concern of a Legal Operations team. Newer strategies like technology adoption, automation, task management, cross-department collaboration, etc. are being adopted. 

 

What is the role of the Legal Operations Team?

To best understand the role of the Legal Operations team, the CLOC has suggested a 12 core competencies model. Competencies are the different skills and abilities of a Legal Operations team, at different levels of expertise (Foundational, Advanced and Mature).

Source: CLOC
The CLOC Foundational Competencies include: 
  • Financial Management/ Budgeting: Manage departmental budget and work on cost-saving. They maintain financial reports for the legal department such as spending on vendors, technology tools and resources etc. 
  • Vendor Management: The Legal Ops team manages the procurement of external legal services (outside counsel, law firms), alternate legal services (IT management, contract drafting and life cycle management, staffing etc). They work on various tasks such as drafting and enforcing billing and fee requirements, communication with vendors, etc. 
  • Cross-Functional alignment: Maintain and propel relationships with other departments such as Finance, IT, HR, etc., to ensure that legal functions are performed most efficiently. 
  • Technology and Process support: Here, the role of the Legal Ops team is to automate functions such as contract management, compliance, research, billing etc, through Legal Tech. The Legal Ops team tracks new legal technology and analyses it as per utility. For a detailed guide on Legal Tech please visit our last post (linked here). 

 

CLOC advanced competencies should be included once the foundational competencies have developed. These include: 
  • Service Delivery & alternate support models: This includes selecting right resources to reduce costs and develop a culture of automation. This is one with the support of alternate support models such as technology tools. 
  • Organisational, Design, Support & Management: Here, the role of the Legal Ops team is to ensure that a culture of growth and development exists in the organisation. Another role is to ensure that the performance of the team is collaborative within the organisation. 
  • Communications: Another role of the Legal Ops team is to ensure inter and intra communication. This would include tracking legal updates and developments with other organisations in the market and with the many other departments within the organisation. 
  • Data Analytics: Collect, analyse and store relevant data to strategize and gauge performances for future development. 

 

CLOC Mature Level Competencies: 
  • Litigation Support and IP Management: Litigation support includes e-discovery, document review, etc. The other role is to provide operational support in IP-related matters. 
  • Knowledge Management: Here the role of the Legal Ops team is to ensure easy access to institutional knowledge. The team compiles and manages all information related to current case laws, rulings, legislations, etc to make it easy to locate and access information without spending time digging. Another manner in which the Legal Ops team helps manage knowledge is by creating templates contracts, pleadings, etc. The primary aim is to set up a centralised repository of legal documents and legislations.
  • Information Governance and Records Management: Here the role is to record policies, processes and strategies of the organisation. 
  • Strategic Planning: Creating a long-term strategy, aligning yearly goals. Monitor whether goals are being met at the agreed timeframe and plan.  

 

3 Levels of Legal Operations 

As suggested by Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), Legal Operations has three Levels: 

 

Level 1: The Admin 
  • Beginner’s level 
  • Manages legal department vendors 
  • Basic reporting to stakeholders 

 

Level 2: The Optimizer 
  • Focuses on Optimisation
  • Reviews existing processes and determines which should be standardised and optimised. 

 

Level 3: The Strategiser
  • Cross-departmental work to ensure better efficiency. 

 

Legal Operations Usecase – Anecdotal Evidence: Linklaters
Source: Bucerius, Legal Operations: Getting more from In-House Legal Departments and Their Outside Counsel Report

 

How can I engage myself in Legal Operations?

To better understand how one can engage themselves in the Legal Operations department, we have attached a sample job description that you may refer to. Further, we have enlisted some reading materials, courses you may take, webinars and conferences you could participate in, podcasts you may stream, and people you may follow on a regular basis, in order to remain updated with the Legal Operations industry. 

 

Legal Operations Job Roles

To know more about these specific job roles,visit, 4 examples of Legal Operations jobs to help you build your team, Simple Legal.

 

Sample Job Description

Source: Simple Legal

 

What should you read? 

 

Streaming Content

 

People to follow

 

Courses

 

Have you ever wondered how illustrations, infographics, pictures, diagrams, mind-maps, and flowcharts can propel legal innovation, research, and solutions? How thinking from the eye of the user can help you generate more efficient results? How following methods as simple as empathising with the user and collecting feedback after every step of your prototype can increase the usability of your solution? 

Design in the professional legal industry is a reality. It fosters simple design techniques to make the legal industry transparent and easy to understand for a layman. Also, the methods of Legal Design help create user-centric solutions and take a step back from complex legal jargon and processes that are difficult to understand for the stakeholders (clients, lawyers, students, the layman, the society, and its systems, and institutions).

 

In this blog post, we will look at the concept of Legal Design – a design mindset and the design process for law. Towards the end of this post, you can find a plethora of resources to further engage yourself with Legal Design. 

 

To understand Legal Design, it is first important to understand the basics of design thinking and its processes.

 

Basics of Design Thinking

Design thinking is the process of building solutions through the lens of a user and employing methods that may not be obvious through initial understanding and underlying assumptions of a desirable solution. The design process attempts to break rigid patterns of thinking and aims to not pre-suppose or assume the solution to a problem. It follows a process that is entirely user-centric. 

The core values of design are usability, engagement, and utility for a user-centric solution. 

The design process includes the following steps: 

  • Empathise with users and discover challenges
  • Define users’ needs and synthesize the problem statement 
  • Ideate a solution without a preconceived assumption
  • Prototype/Build a solution
  • Test the created solution
  • Evolve (analyse the feedback and edit the prototype)

Image Source: Law by Design

 

What is Legal Design? 

Legal Design was introduced by Margaret Hagan (Executive Director, Legal Design Lab, Stanford Institute of Design (d.school)). According to her,Law by design is a lens that puts focus of law on innovating, testing and building systems that serve the agency of people involved in them.”

“Legal design is the application of human-centered design to the world of law, to make legal systems and services more human-centered, usable, and satisfying.

It is an approach with three main sets of resources — process, mindsets, and mechanics — for legal professionals to use. And in the process, it sets key new metrics for how we operate in the world of law. Are we delivering services that are (1) usable, (2) useful, and (3) engaging?”

Legal Design is an intersection of design thinking, technology (that helps create, ideate, and implement design), and law. 

Image Source: Law by Design

 

Why do we need design in law? 

The stakeholders of the legal industry (clients, lawyers, students, the layman, the society and its systems, and institutions) can all benefit from legal design. Hagan suggests that law needs to be more user-friendly, accessible, and easy to understand. It should strive for user-centric innovation and research. All of which, can be achieved through design, even though the two industries have never intersected before. 

Hagan suggests some points of value that design can bring into the legal industry: 

  • Experimental Culture: Forward-thinking in how legal professionals generate solutions.
  • User-Centered Innovation: Greater focus on the client and the layperson who has to use legal systems, to deliver results tailored to their needs.
  • New Paths for Legal Work & Serving Justice: Building a new set of professional paths and opportunities for people who want to work in law (especially those who feel that the traditional methods of law do not enable them to generate solutions that are user-centric).
  • Better Communication: Design is a visual approach, which leaves out complex jargon and concepts. It makes communication between the layperson and lawyer simpler and more accessible.

Image Source: Law by Design

 

What is Design? (A lawyer specific definition)
  • It is an intersection between creativity and practicality. Design is not a method to beautify and add color, rather it is a means to make information more intuitive, accessible, and easy to understand. 
  • It is a human-centered approach to problem-solving. It keeps users in the center of focus and develops sustainable, accessible, and easily usable solutions around it. 
  • It offers a flexible path for generating and implementing ideas. Unlike traditional legal methods of creating solutions, legal design is more flexible. It allows lawyers to play around with design tools and tailor them according to the needs of the clients. 

Image Source: Law by Design

 

Design Mindsets

Image Source: Law by Design

What constitutes a design mindset? (Multiple Design Mindsets for lawyers): 

  • Pause feasibility: Rather than crushing ideas because they have been tried before, or require funding, or seem impractical at first look, design mindset allows the idea to be explored regardless of assumed challenges. 
  • Everything is a prototype: Rather than keeping the feedback mechanism at the very end, design mindset promotes releasing ideas even before they are ready to come out; in order to gather feedback. The idea is to be quick in the development of the solution, and quick in gathering feedback for it. 
  • Welcoming criticism: To become feedback-driven and iterative, it is important to welcome criticism and avoid perfectionism. 
  • Being user-centric: The design approach promotes understanding the users deeply, through interviews, questionnaires, etc. The approach of pre-supposing the problem statement of the stakeholders, on the basis of a few studies, articles, or mere intuition is discouraged. 
  • Choose specific archetypes and hold off the perfect solution: Another design mindset encourages design thinkers to narrow down the scope of their recognised problem statement and identify specific needs of the stakeholders that require a solution. While doing this, it is encouraged to not jump to solutions too soon, especially without having identified and understood the problems correctly. 
  • Start with a beginner’s mind: Design thinking encourages going on to the table with the mindset of a beginner. One who introspects at each step and asks the questions, “Why?’, “How?”, “What?”, multiple times, to delve into depths. 
  • Working with interdisciplinary teams: Teams with minds from across the board, offer more valuable insights than teams with minds headed in a single direction. A legal team could have digital experts, financial experts, project managers, professional designers, etc. 
  • Shifting perspective from lawyers to layperson: Design thinking also encourages lawyers to place themselves in the shoes of the layperson and think from the mind of an individual who has no knowledge of the law and its processes. This can help lawyers build solutions that are more user-friendly and practical. 
  • Visualise: Design thinking is primarily a visual process. It does not only mean making colorful, attractive pictures and illustrations. But it is a commitment to representations of words, through flowcharts, mind-maps, basic illustrations, diagrams, sketches, basic human figures, Venn diagrams, digital infographics, etc. Design thinking rests on the premise that it is easier to understand and remember visuals than text. The impact that visuals have on the mind is also different from that of plain text. 
  • Bias to action and building to think: Design thinking also promotes building the idea once you have conceived it, without spending a lot of time in planning, logistics, or merely talking about the idea. The main idea should be broken down into small milestones for prototyping. Once a milestone is built, it can help the designer understand what works and what does not. 
  • Embrace Constraints: It is suggested that a designer should work with time constraints and a defined process. This enhances productivity and quality of work, because the designer is bound by time and will be able to separate the work on a priority basis, and leave out the unimportant tasks that can either be delegated to someone else or latently waste time.

 

Design Process for Lawyers

We discussed that design is a very flexible process and one can always devise their own methods and flow of stages. Formulaic stages are given below, but one can always create their own stages! 

 

Stage 1: Discovery and Understanding 

Image Source: Law by Design

This stage involves understanding the status quo of the stakeholders and deeply identifying the problem (its systems, users, and workflows). To tackle this stage, there are a number of tools one can use: 

  • Interviews: Use this method to ask basic or intricate questions to the expected users. The aim is to deeply understand their problems and emotions. (A solution built with empathy will target the root of the problem)
  • Story-telling: This method is an easy way to understand where the users’ problems are coming from. Ask them to narrate an incident describing their experience with the problem. This method will help you observe the many on-ground, mental, physical, and emotional challenges your solution needs to tackle. 
  • Observation: This method is a bird’s-eye view technique to observe the normal lives of your expected users to better understand their needs. 
  • Walk-a-mile: Experience your product yourself, by pretending to be a stakeholder. 
  • Service Safari: Understand the process from its root. Meet people working on the ground, observe bureaucratic activities, etc. 
  • Personal Maps: Make mind-maps, flowcharts, Venn diagrams, illustrations, drawings of your own, for your own understanding. 
  • Ask questions like a kindergartner, use the Terri Gross method (click here to know more about this wonderful interview process!)
    • Walk-through questions: “Walk me through your typical ____….  What do you do next? … And then…”
    • Example questions: “Last week, for example. What did you do last Thursday?”
    • Comparison questions: “Do other associates at your firm do the same thing?”
    • Worst/Best questions: “Tell me what your worst experience with __ was.” “Tell me about your best experience with ____.”
    • Over time questions: “How are things now, as compared to a year ago?”

Image Source: Law by Design

 

Stage 2: Synthesis 

This stage is about deliverables, once a good amount of information has been collected in the discovery stage, this stage involves mapping the information in structured documents. 

Synthesis tools: 

  1. Mindmap: Helps you track information in a sequential manner, and brainstorm ideas and solutions, since the entire information is visualised in one place. 

Image Source: Law by Design

2. Persona Profile: Identifies who will be the user of your solution. What are their needs, and values? What do they desire and expect? etc.

Image Source: Law by Design

3. Journey Map: Records how users react and adapt to your solution. This is done in comparison to their status quo. 

Image Source: Law by Design

4. Needs Pyramid: The needs pyramid maps a hierarchy of the needs of identified stakeholders, to tailor the solution in a manner that the most sought-after need is fulfilled on a priority basis. 

Image Source: Law by Design

5. Value Mapping: This is a simple tool that helps the designer collate everything that the users care about, in order to have a better understanding of the role and utility of their solution. 

Image Source: Law by Design

 

Stage 3: Brainstorm and Build 

This is the stage where you build your solution and brainstorm with interdisciplinary teams. As a design thinker, it is important to rely on pictures at this stage. One should also brainstorm on their feet, collaborate across disciplines and act out the scenario that you are trying to build (become the stakeholder). 

Tools that can be used at this stage: 

1. Bullseye Diagram 

This diagram helps you map primary, secondary and tertiary ideas (ideas will be recorded in a manner of importance, practicality and usability). 

Image Source: Law by Design

2. 8 Frame Storyboard 

This is an effective way to prototype your idea. All you have to do is make 8 scenes of your idea, which 8 different ways in which your idea can be used by the users. Eg: 8 scenes of your app/website, 8 templates of the document you are trying to build. 

Image Source: Law by Design

3. Concept Posture: A concept posture is a simple way to document your entire idea in a single diagram. This is highly customisable. Here are a few examples of what you could add in the concept posture: Who are the users? How will they use it? What is the solution trying to achieve? What is your goal? etc. 

Image Source: Law by Design

 

Stage 4: Test, Iterate, and Scale 

Stage 3 and stage 4 should ideally run together. Once you build a prototype, you should put it to test immediately, gather feedback and refine your solution. This is what a design review looks like: 

Image Source: Law by Design

 

Legal Design to the Rescue: Use Cases

Juro – Privacy Policy

Image Source: https://github.com/juro-privacy/free-privacy-notice

Comic Contracts by Creative Contracts

Image Source:https://creative-contracts.com/clemengold/

 

Draft Lease

Image Source: Pixartprinting

Legislation Explainers – Justice Adda

Source Design:https://www.justiceadda.com/explainerondisastermanagement

 

Frozen IrisContract

Source: Aditya Srikanth, LinkedIn

How can I engage myself with Legal Design?

Further Reading:

 

Books: 

 

People/Companies to follow: 

 

Resources/Toolkits:

 

 Courses: 

 

Conferences/ Events

 

This post will take you through the utility, importance, basics, and tools for Legal Project Management

Project Management is a discipline of its own and requires a formal certification. But, when viewed as a skill, it can be allied with other industries and help manage projects better. To understand Legal Project Management, we will first have to understand some basics of project management. 

What is a project? 

A project is defined by the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) (this is the ultimate guide to Project Management) as:

 “…a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. It has a definite beginning and end. The end is reached when the project’s objectives have been achieved. Most projects are undertaken to create a lasting outcome.”

So: 

  • A project has a beginning and an end;
  • It yields a unique solution; and
  • It is temporary in nature.

For instance, organising a competition in your college is a project. It starts with planning the competition (primary aim, theme, participation, prizes, judges, venue, costs etc). It will yield a unique solution, i.e reputation of the college, student exposure and interaction across colleges, etc. Lastly, it will terminate on the completion of the competition and prize distribution. For efficient organisation and risk predictability, methods of Project Management can be applied.  

For understanding the fundamentals of project management check out this brilliant video by Deniz Sasal

Project management is highly customisable to each unique industry and its needs. In the legal industry, a legal project may take the form of any kind of client mandate: an entire engagement, a single matter, a particular transaction, a piece of litigation, or a group of cases. It may be complex or straightforward; but at some point, it ends and results in a unique client-specific solution. LPM is used for specific planning and execution, to boost the productivity of a legal service provider.

Each project is made up of a sequence of components called phases (such as document review, and due diligence). Phases, in turn, are made up of an aggregation of various tasks that are delegated to expert performers.

  

What is Project Management? 


Source: urgenthomework.com

Project management as defined by the PMBoK is:

“The application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. Project management is accomplished through the appropriate application and integration of the 47 logically grouped project management processes (into 10 key knowledge areas), which are categorized into five Process Groups: Initiating; Planning; Executing; Monitoring and Controlling; and Closing.” 

What is Legal Project Management (LPM)? 

Source: IILPM

Therese Linton, in her book Legal Project Management (2015), defines LPM as:

An emerging discipline in the legal sector, which utilises project management techniques and adapts these for application to the management of legal matters. Practitioners of LPM apply various disciplines, tools, and techniques to the processes of providing legal services rather than to the substantive legal work itself.”

Susan Raridon Lambreth, founding Principal at LawVision and nationally recognised as one of the top leadership, practice group, and project management consultants for law firms is of the opinion that “Legal Project Management is a process of defining the parameters of a matter upfront, planning the course of the matter at the outset with the facts you have at the time, managing the matter, and, in the end, evaluating how the matter was handled (from both the firm or law department perspective and the client perspective). At its core, LPM is about better communication with the matter team internally and between the lawyers and their clients, whether the matter is being handled by a law firm or done within a legal department.”

The International Institute of Legal Project Management defines legal project management (LPM) as the “application of project management principles and practices to enhance the delivery of legal services”. 

LPM is a tool to manage what is known as “the iron triangle” in Project Management.

The iron triangle aims to balance time, cost, and resources to meet efficiency standards.

The second triangle aims to balance the risks involved, scope, and quality of the project.

In the legal industry, these are termed ‘deliverables’ (factors that the legal professionals need to deliver, throughout the project), which provide value to the client and the legal professionals involved. Balancing these factors also ensures the sustainability of the firm/ legal service provider in the market. 

The process of Legal Project Management

The process of Legal Process Management (LPM) involves four steps: 

Step 1: Defining the Project (Project Initiation or Project Intake)
  • Defining projects scope and objective 
  • Gathering information to understand client expectations 
  • Agreeing on billing arrangements 
  • Discussing project time and costs
  • Enlisting objectives, assumptions and constraints of the project 
Step 2: Planning the Project 
  • Defining project phases and tasks
  • Developing timelines 
  • Selecting appropriate tools 
  • Supplementing step 1 with more detailed documents
  • Sorting matters into operational difficulty (basic, moderate, difficult) 
  • Creating a schedule (Gantt Chart – list activities on a suitable time-scale, each word package or activity is represented by a bar scale that shows the start date, duration, length, and end date of the activity) 

Project Schedule Template (Gantt Chart)

Step 3: Delivering Projects (Matter Execution)
  • Create and circulate a project progress report (which may include: name of the project, project manager, list of delegated tasks, project headlines, and milestone summary) 
  • Include Traffic Light Status based on the RAG model (Red, Amber, Green) and one-sentence explanation. 
  1. Red: Requires immediate attention 
  2. Amber: In difficulty but under control 
  3. Green: Going as per expectations 
Step 4: Closing the Project 
  • Ensuring all deliverables are signed off 
  • Monitoring and measuring progress (tracking budget, phases, and tasks) 
  • Post-project review 
  • Evaluating progress in terms of the agreed scope 
  • Identifying bottlenecks that need improvement in future projects 
  • Identifying lessons learned, resources discovered, etc.
  • Evaluating if clients were satisfied 
  • Identifying what worked well and what should have been done differently 

Why is Legal Project Management important? 

Greater Client Satisfaction

LPM helps in meeting client expectations, which are: 

  • value, 
  • efficiency, 
  • predictability, 
  • communication, 
  • understanding their business, and 
  • alignment of interests. 

It provides clarity in terms of the process, resources, time, and cost involved in the project, making the clients integral and aware stakeholders. Current trends have observed clients seeking more efficiency and services at lesser costs (more-for-less challenge). This has led to the emergence of alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) that seek to replace the fixed price and hour-billing systems. Hence, to maintain a sustainable business model, in-house, extra-counsel, and law firms, use Legal Project Management (LPM) that provides a streamlined structure of delivery, assessment, and solutions.  

Reduces risks and increases predictability

The process of LPM is meant to schedule the entire project, define its scope, time frame, and cost estimates. This increases predictability in terms of the budget and completion time of the project. It also reduces the risks associated with alternative fee arrangements (AFAs), while meeting client expectations. 

Creates precedents for future planning

LPM involves a robust method of planning, scheduling, scoping, monitoring & controlling, costing, and executing. Once implemented in a project of a specific type, it can accelerate management in allied and similar future projects, by providing standard sets of deliverables. 

Reduces management stress and increases productivity 

LPM not only helps delegate work based on expertise and plan projects in an efficient manner, it also provides tools and techniques that can be used to improve workflow and reduce management stress. LPM can be as simple as listing the important tasks and phases in a word document and tracking them on a daily/weekly basis. You can use project management to eliminate wastes:

Defects and all related waste, including inspection, testing, and correction: Examples of defects include missing a filing deadline, incomplete forms, bad drafting, data entry errors, and omissions;

Overproduction: Examples include starting work before clearing conflicts, printing too many hard copies, and drafting a 10-page memo when only a one-page summary was requested;

Waiting: Examples include awaiting responses from clients, employees, or opposing counsel, starting a call or meeting late due to late arrivals, waiting for technology such as boot up/restart times;

Excess capacity: For example, not using the lowest cost resources such as clients, paralegals, and assistants that are capable of doing tasks, when partners are doing associate-level work, or over-staffing a matter;

Transportation (this type of waste refers to things moving as opposed to people moving, which is considered “motion”): Examples include moving files from one place to another and sending hardcopies rather than emails;

Inventory: Examples include work in process (WIP), unread email, marketing materials (such as collateral, brochures, and promotional items, or event materials);

Motion (which refers to people moving as opposed to things): Examples include people spending extra time getting from one place to the next due to travel or poor office layout, delivering files rather than mailing/emailing them, extra keystrokes/clicks to find documents; and

Extra processing steps: Examples include conducting too much research or double and triple checking (e.g. approvals of expenses without any real review).

Source: An introduction to Lean and Six Sigma for Law Firms, BCLMA.org

Legal Project Management Tools

The infographic given above lists all the important software one may use for different steps of a project life cycle. Some other basic tools that can be used are: 

  • Project Charter: Document that defines scope and related key issues: team members, project description, goals, scope, assumptions and risks, timelines, deliverables
  • Communication Plan: A document that identifies how communication will be made (e-mail, reports etc), what will be the frequency, what are the goals of each communication, who will be responsible for initiating and tracking communication 
  • Project Plan: A master document that integrates the project scope, milestones, schedule, responsibilities, and estimated cost and is the primary tool for managing the project. The project plan is a living document: it is updated regularly to show the percent of the project that is complete.
  • Gantt Chart: A document that lists activities on a suitable time scale. Each word package or activity is represented by a bar scale that shows the start date, duration, length, and end date of the activity.
  • RACI Diagram:
    • Responsible – Those who do work to achieve the task. There can be multiple persons or groups that are held accountable.
    • Accountable – The individual ultimately answerable for the correct and thorough completion of the task.
    • Consulted – Those whose opinions are sought. Consulting implies two-way communication.
    • Informed – Those who are kept up-to-date on the progress of the project. Recipients of one-way communication.

Refer to this website for project management templates.

How to become a Legal Project Manager? 

Project Management requires a certification course, however, it is not mandatory for Legal Project Managers to acquire formal certification. A mix of legal background and management skills that can be acquired through online courses is sufficient for a Legal Project Manager.

Courses

Readings 

Books

Streaming Online Content

People to follow

Events, Conferences

The legal world is characterised by long hours of manual paperwork, research, and due diligence. With the introduction of no-code platforms, automation tools, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML), it is possible to deploy computers and software to automate clerical work and delegate time and effort into the principal legal practice.

The relationship between law and technology is that of the hare and the tortoise. While technology is racing at an ever-increasing pace, the law has only tried to catch up. Since no industry is an exception to the fourth industrial revolution (the digital revolution), the intersection of the legal sector with digitisation is called “Legal Tech”. 

In 2019, the legal tech market generated revenues of over USD 17.32 billion worldwide, with incumbents generating USD 16.75 billion towards the total. The legal tech startup market, which generated USD 570 million in 2019, is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.82% for the period to 2025, with revenues set to reach USD 2.49 billion by the end of 2025.

In our  previous blog  we saw how a new skill set is demanded of each legal professional, and technology is one of the driving factors of this evolution. In this guide, we will look at one of the primary and fast-emerging legal industries, called ‘Legal Tech’.

What is Legal Tech?

Legal Tech (also called ‘Legal Technology’, ‘Law Tech’, or ‘Regulatory Tech’) is the automation of legal work through the use of technology, software, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) to provide assistance and support to the legal industry. Legal tech is not only a tool for lawyers to digitise data and simplify administration and logistics, but it is also a tool to provide better, easy, cost, and time-effective justice. 

“As computational technology and artificial intelligence mature, more people will be able to have better access to justice.  – Monica Bay, Fellow, Stanford Law School CodeX

While the terms ‘Legal Tech’ and ‘Law Tech’ are often used interchangeably, some lawyers draw a distinction between Legal tech and Law Tech. They opine that Legal Tech is software and technologies that serve the interests of the lawyers in streamlining their work. While Law Tech is used to cater to consumer needs (eg: legal chatbots, legal online marketplace, etc).

Classification of Legal Tech

A notable number of classifications exist in Legal Tech. Each of them attempts to differentiate the existing Legal Tech tools and services according to their utility. 

The Bucerius Law School and Boston Consulting Group, divide Legal Tech into three categories:

  • Enabler Technologies: Deal with digitizing Legal Data
  • Support Process Solutions: Deal with back-office, and clerical work such as accounting, human resources, etc.
  • Substantive Law Technology: Deal with support solutions. These technologies do not provide administrative support, but substantive legal solutions.

The Stanford Legal Code Database provides a nine-fold classification. Which is:

Marketplace Document Automation Practice Management  
Legal Research Legal Education Online Dispute Resolution  
E-Discovery  Analytics Compliance 

Why is Legal Tech beneficial?

Legal Professionals 

Legal Tech can assist lawyers in research, time management, and faster processing that would result in fewer errors. For example, it can save time during the document review stage. To serve the interests of the legal clientele, it can reduce costs and provide transparency. It can further help in cross-team collaboration over the internet. Cloud technology and Blockchain have also made it possible to draft contracts easily, analyse large data, analyse and manage cases, and also provide effective cross-border legal education. 

Law Students

Law Schools around the world have been able to disrupt technology, especially during the COVID lockdown, in providing students with classes, resources, and eco-systems for tech-enabled education. Legal Tech can help law students in legal research and basic drafting. Staying aware and acquainted with latest developments in Legal Tech can help law students bridge the information gap that most law schools lay because of lack of practical exposure. 

Do I need to learn coding to make use of Legal Tech?
Since many Law firms have now started focusing on automation and innovative solutions, a vast number of Legal Tech tools are being used across the industry. In such a case, the question of whether a law student should learn coding has arisen. The answer to this is two-fold. If one is willing to invest the time and effort, many free platforms over the internet offer coding courses. (Check out Free Code Camp, to learn coding step-by-step and also get yourself a certification. Other courses can be found on Udemy, Coursera, EdX, etc).
If time, cost, and effort are a constraint, no-code platforms can help you build applications without any prior knowledge of coding. These platforms have a simple drag-and-drop feature that allows you to choose your desired features of the application and simply place them on your screen. (No-code platforms you could check out: Neota Logic, Bryter)

Clients of Legal Services

Legal Tech can help law professionals meet the expectations of the client, which is driven by the more for less challenge and offers more transparency. The emergence of online marketplaces and legal chatbots has increased access to justice and legal services. Through these platforms, clients do not have to visit lawyers for the slightest of legal questions or disputes. Some firms and startups also provide documentation services, wherein basic contracts can be drafted by the clients themselves through pre-designed, customisable templates. 

How can we use Legal Tech? 

The following table captures the main contours of legal technology:

Source:

https://www.legalevolution.org/2021/04/the-best-metaphor-for-todays-legal-market-is-the-auto-industry-circa-1905-231/

StakeholdersCategoryDescriptionPopular ToolsIndian Startups
Legal ProfessionalsPractice ManagementTools that are a one-stop solution to law specific automationClio, HighQ, MyCase, CosmoLex, PracticePanther, Rocket Matter, LiteraProVakil, myKase by Manupatra, Theo by CFCS, LegoDesk
 Legal ResearchTools that can help gather material, precedents and also manage them.Cara-Case Text, FastCase, Westlaw Edge (Thomas Reuters), Tracers, LexisLawFinderLive, AirInfoTech, Vakilsearch,Mitra by Pensieve, CaseMine, mLeap, SCC Online, Manupatra
 Legal Case Management (including Document Management)Tools that store, analyse, and monitor casesCosmoLex, Smokeball, AbacusLaw, Actionstep, eFileCabinet, iManageLegalCaseManagement by ManekTech, CaseWatch, MyAdvo
 Legal Billing SoftwareManage client payments, send overdue invoice notices, etc.TimeSolv, Bill4Time, FreshBooks, TimeSlips 
 Task ManagementTools that help strategise meetings, priorities, cases, etc.Wrike, Filevine, SmartAdvocate, Firm Central – by Thomas Reuters, LawToolBox 
 Document Review, Assembly, and CreationTools that draft legal documents, assemble them, and review them through AI and MLLuminance, LegalMation, Rocket  Lawyer, Kira, DocJuris, Legartis, Casedo, Documate, Lawyaw, CobbleStone 
 E-DiscoveryTools that identify relevant documents and tag them with the primary documentEverlaw, Relativity, Exterro, Luminance, Lex Machina 
 Outcome PredictionTools that predict the tentative outcome of a pleading. Eg: What could be the damages that accrue?, Likely award or compensation, etcCaseCrunch, Lex  Machina, Gavelytics, Blue J Legal 
 Contract Management
(including e-signatures)
Tools that analyse, store and manage the performance of contractsKira Systems, LexCheck ,DocuSignLeegality, SpotDraft, Anvi Insight by Anvi
Legal ClientsOnline MarketplacesTools that help connect lawyers to clients, and help in Customer Experience Solutions (CX)Avvo, Lexicata, BizzCounsel, LegalZoom, LexooVakilSearch, LawRato, MyAdvo
 Legal ChatbotsTools that provide automated legal advice to clients on matters that do not require expert advice.Robot Lawyer Lisa, Ross, BillyBotLawBot by LawRato
 Dispute ResolutionExtra-legal dispute resolution on the online modeModria, NoloJupitice
 Legal DocumentationTools that help clients create documents through templates.Rocket Lawyer, LegalZoom 

To discover more Legal Tech tools, visit:

LegalPioneer andStanford CodeX

 

How can I engage myself in Legal Tech?

To step into the Legal Tech industry, you can take certificate courses and attend webinars, participate in hackathons, intern at legal tech startups or incubators, talk to experts or incumbent professionals to get an insight into the legal tech world. But before that, one needs to change one’s outlook towards technology and unlearn traditionally associated notions. The hesitancy associated with automation of the legal sector needs to be done away with. 

We have compiled a list of resources that you could refer to turn your curiosity into substantive action and give yourself an initial push.  

Reading

You can engage with reading blogs and articles. It will help you achieve a varied range of knowledge, from basics to practical tools and training. For instance, you can start with Artificial Lawyer, Lawtomate, Legal Evolution, and India Legal Tech. For more reading resources, check out the list given below.

Online Content

You could also start watching content online and stream podcasts. For instance, Legal Tech School on youtube can give you a primer on different Legal Tech software. You could also stream Digital Detectives Legal Talk Network. For a more detailed list, see below: 

Engagement on Social Media (Accounts/Pages to follow)  

Another important and easy manner to learn more is to follow people who indulge with Legal Tech on a regular basis. This will give you an insight into the practical world of Legal Tech and also keep you updated with recent developments.

Courses 
Events, Webinars, Conferences, and Hackathons

Apprise yourself with the Legal Tech ecosystem in your country and abroad 

Legal Tech Incubators
  1. Prarambh– Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (CAM) – India
  2. Algo Legal’s Incubator – India
  3. Fuse  – Allen & Ovary
  4. Slaughter and May Legal Tech Incubator
  5. Legal Tech Labs
  6. Next Law Labs
Few Legal Tech Companies and Start-ups in India
  1. Presolv360– Resolution of disputes through online mode  
  2. PracticeLeague– Contract Management, IPR Management, Document Management etc.
  3. LawRato– Video Consultations and Online Legal Advice 
  4. LegalKart– Instant Legal advice on phone calls, document review, document drafting 
  5. Quant LegalTech Pte. Ltd. – Customised solutions through Legal Tech 
  6. Leegality–  eSignature, Document Security, Contracting and Compliance
  7. Lawyered– Online Legal Advice 
  8. IndiaFilings– Registration of companies, preparation of legal documents and Intellectual Property
  9. VakilSearch– incorporation, government registrations & filings, accounting, documentation, and annual compliances
  10. Legal Salah – A legal-technology startup focused on providing law and taxation services
  11. SpotDraft – Offers technology-based solutions for complex legal dealings, including drafting, managing and storing paperwork online, analysing contracts and automating invoices, besides sending reminders and advice on legal compliance. 
  12. LegalKart – Allows lawyers and other professionals in the legal system to assign and synchronise tasks. It also provides facilitates collaboration among professionals. 
  13. LegalPay – Tech-based litigation financier
  14. MikeLegal – Artificially Intelligent legal associate with the aim to significantly ease and eliminate the effort currently required to manage IP related tasks specifically Trademark Public Search (MikeTM Search), Trademark Journal Watch (MikeTM Watch), Trademark Portfolio Management (MikeTM Manager), Patent Portfolio Management (MikePatent Manager) and Contract Reviewer by harnessing the power of AI
  15. LegitQuest – Legal-tech company that operates a legal research platform with Indian case laws
  16. LegalWiz – Provides high quality professional services for small businesses, start-up entrepreneurs and individuals
Legal Tech Networks and Associations
  1. European Legal Tech Association (ELTA)
  2. Asia- Pacific Legal Innovation and Technology Association (ALITA)
  3. International Legal Tech Association (ILTA)
  4. Association of Legal Technologies (ALT)
Job Roles and Internship Opportunities
  1. Legal Engineer at Loyens & Loeff
  2. Working Student Technology & Innovation at Loyens & Loeff
  3. Remote Internship at Bryter(US) 
  4. Remote Internship at Bryter (Germany)
  5. Find Legal Tech Jobs here: https://legaltechjobs.com/