“pioneering Change: How Lawyers Drive Legal Reforms And Benefits” – Ferris Bueller said, “Life goes pretty fast…” That was in the 80’s. What would he say now? Life moves

Change in the legal field is usually viewed through the narrow lens of the profession. Lawyers have long controlled every aspect of the industry – education, training, delivery of self-proclaimed “legal services”, legal process and regulation. They have also written the story of the industry.

“pioneering Change: How Lawyers Drive Legal Reforms And Benefits”

It is changing – business is reshaping the culture, mindset, role, mission and purpose of legal operations. Lawyers are part of an increasingly versatile, technology-based, information-based, client/business-friendly legal task. Many lawyers and industry experts see little evidence of this – big companies are still thriving, prices are rising and the war for talent is pushing up compensation packages. What changes?

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Understanding the inevitability and accelerating pace of change in the legal industry requires a broader lens. Why has change become a ubiquitous and constantly accelerating part of life? How does the company react? Why is the C-Suite putting more pressure on the General Counsel to adapt and integrate with other business units? How does it change the old legal landscape and refocus on increasing value and better customer experience?

The answers to these questions reveal why change in the legal industry is inevitable and accelerating. It is currently unevenly distributed; corporate legal departments feel that burden. The increasing pressure from the C-Suite is forcing General Counsel and their leadership teams to rethink how, with whom, and with what tools and resources they meet the demands of their expanding roles, mandates, and portfolios. This has a profound impact on the supply chain – especially law firms – and the entire legal ecosystem.

The pandemic has intensified an already perfect storm of macro-environmental forces that are fundamentally changing the way we live, work, buy and sell goods, and exchange information. The speed and extent of change challenges our ability to adapt – as individuals, companies, societies and as human guardians of the planet. Darwin argued, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the most adaptable to change.” His theory is tested in real time in a remarkable convergence of changes that include:

The macro-environmental forces listed above have dramatically affected the speed and complexity of business. At the same time, companies face a growing list of additional challenges, including:

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Digital transformation has fundamentally changed business and its relationship with customers, workforce and society. The umbrella term “digital transformation” does not begin to capture the multiple elements, complexities, nuances, and mindset shifts involved in this paradigm-shifting process. It is a multidimensional, enterprise-wide, integrated reimagining of the “art of the possible” designed to drive value creation and improve the end-to-end customer experience.

Digital transformation is made possible by technology and by human imagination, data-enhanced experimentation and adaptation (change management). These elements are interconnected and necessary for the benefits of the “digital transition”.

Especially in the legal industry, there is a common misconception that digital transformation and technology are synonymous. Big Data, Cloud Computing, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Resource/Workflow Management are the enablers of digital transformation and the backbone that supports change. Customer orientation, new organizational structures and financial model data, a multidisciplinary, agile and fluid workforce, skill improvement and continuous improvement are its heart.

Digitally mature companies are significantly less successful than their mature counterparts. A McKinsey study found that mature industries such as semiconductors and software fared better than less mature industries such as utilities and energy. The study also showed a similar pattern in the companies of the industries that participated in the study.

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A Deloitte study found that more mature companies are about three times more likely than digital laggards to report annual net revenue growth and net profit margins significantly higher than their industry average. A Deloitte study (like the aforementioned McKinsey study) found that this pattern extends across industries and companies.

Deloitte identified several key elements of change, which it calls “digital pivots.” They include: information management, intelligent workflows, efficiency, product/service quality, customer satisfaction, increasing competence and focusing on growth and innovation. Mature companies invest in each of these areas, and all companies that engaged in pivots achieved significantly better results than those that took a less comprehensive approach.

Digital pivots are easier to identify than to implement. To make a turnaround, a company must examine and reevaluate every aspect of its existence with the goal of providing a better overall customer experience. This requires rethinking corporate culture, structure, financial model, metrics, technology, data mining and analytics, capabilities, tools, upskilling, investment, strategic partnerships, agility, diversity, governance, social responsibility and planetary stewardship. There are no sacred cows in this process.

Business was once mainly focused on revenue, profit, share price and other financial metrics. Now it has new measures of success – enterprise, society and governance (ESG), diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) – among a growing set of holistic humanistic values. A McKinsey Global Institute report found that 87% of respondents believe that companies should create value for multiple purposes, not just making a profit. This data point affects the company’s purpose, culture, talent management, marketing, strategic partnerships and governance. a few examples.

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Digital transformation is a team sport covering the entire company. No function – including the law – is exempt from participation. Therefore, the C-Suite is increasing pressure on legal functions to align with the company’s purpose and integrate the company with other business units to create value. Here’s how this pressure is being applied and why it’s driving profound change not only in in-house teams, but across the entire legal supply chain and ecosystem.

General Counsel and their leadership teams are at the forefront of legal industry change. The C-Suite increases the pressure on them not only to reduce costs but also to act as business units and transform from cost centers to value creators while proactively acting as corporate defenders.

The 2021 EY Law Survey, conducted in partnership with the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession, identified a number of fiscal and operational challenges facing corporate legal functions. Here is a sample of the data:

·88% of GC report planning to reduce their budget in response to increasing pressure from the C-Suite and the board.

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·Among large companies (>$20 billion in annual revenue), C-Suite-mandated collection of legal fees has increased from 11% in 2019 to 18% in 2021.

A recent study by The Digital Legal Exchange revealed that the changing legal role of the C-Suite goes beyond financial and operational issues. The survey found that 97% of business respondents said they wanted success metrics for the legal function to be aligned with business goals. Almost three-quarters (74%) of business respondents said it is important/very important for legal to generate revenue and new markets. potential.

The aforementioned studies focused on companies’ (“in-house”) legal departments. Meeting business expectations requires the General Counsel to “reimagine the art of the possible” not only for their internal teams but also for their entire supply chain. Most GCs initially focus on changing the culture, mindset and practices of their internal team before taking on the supply chain. This has provided acquired service providers – especially law firms – with a temporary reprieve that will not last.

How can the legal function meet the challenge of becoming suitable for digital customers and society? Spoiler alert: not by maintaining old legal industry models, methods, isolation, culture and paradigms. Here are some high-level recommendations.

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1. The legal function must see a larger picture of its corporate and societal purpose and role.

2. Digital change is a journey, and the legal task is by no means a pioneer. Business has forged a digital path, and legal functions can learn from it.

4. The tools, resources, structures, models, data and digital roadmap are available to enable the legal function to meet the demands of its expanded role and mission.

7. The entire legal function must work together to meet the company’s purpose and integrate with other business units to increase the company’s value and better customer experience.

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8. This means that the legal profession should think of itself not as a “department” but as a “function” that shares its expertise, experience, data and resources internally, cross-functionally and with/for the benefit of clients/end clients. users.

9. The purpose of the legal action is to anticipate, detect, extinguish, mitigate and/or solve the risk quickly proactively and comprehensively. It must also work nimbly with other business units to create value and improve the customer experience.

10. Human adaptation to change and a positive way of thinking are the biggest obstacles to digital transformation, not lack of budget or an already overwhelming workload.

13 “Customer focus” is a legitimate buzzword. That is the goal, and achieving it requires a top-down reevaluation of how things are done and how and by whom they could be done faster, more efficiently, more cost-effectively, more proactively and compassionately for the benefit of customers and society. .

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14. Change does not come naturally or easily to most people; a common sense of purpose and a team approach are essential for the success of the change journey.

15. Winston Churchill said: “A pessimist sees a difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees an opportunity in every difficulty

16. Legal needs to fit the business – speak its language, act at its speed, make data-driven recommendations, participate in and benefit from the company’s data lake, strive for holistic diversity, create metrics that are relevant to advancing the company’s goals and exceeding customer expectations. , raises the importance of empathy, educates its workforce and practices ethical corporate, social and planetary policies.

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