As the global pandemic continues to impact economies and industries worldwide, corporate legal teams and firms are being deeply impacted. Predictions vary widely on the longer-term effect that COVID-19 will have on the legal industry. Despite the near term challenges, sources like the National Law Review see a much brighter picture in the future, with new or evolving companies that emerge out of the crisis needing help with incorporating, running, and protecting their businesses.
The world is a different place than it was just a few short months ago, and many of these changes are having a long-lasting influence on our lives, including the ways we work. We are seeing that businesses, including professional service firms, are working effectively with a highly remote workforce, and experts predict this trend will continue long past the current pandemic.
So, now is the time for the legal profession to seize this opportunity to reevaluate its long-term strategy and operations and leverage technology to transform how things can be done for greater efficiency, cost savings, and value for companies and clients.
This is especially true when it comes to the cumbersome and often lengthy process of sourcing legal services. With virtually every business presently worried about today’s macroeconomic situation, managing operational expenses and doing things in the most efficient way are more critical than ever.
Enterprises are realizing that they need to quickly pivot their procurement strategy, including sourcing legal services, to drive costs down and accommodate remote work, and they are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI)-driven technology to do it. Enterprises are already seeing the value of being able to seamlessly source services from incumbent and new firms to ensure they have the expertise they need for any project or requirement at a moment’s notice.
The cost savings can exceed 20 percent, as one financial services institution recently learned when sourcing a legal service provider with the help of AI-powered procurement technology. Alongside cost savings comes security in the knowledge that in-house counsel has hired best-in-class outside representation to handle their matters. Moreover, all of this can be done seamlessly, collaboratively, and remotely with the help of the right technology tools.
With the added capabilities that advanced technologies such as AI and machine learning provide, the dynamic between legal and procurement teams is rapidly shifting. By leveraging the power of automation, the sourcing of legal services is becoming a more customer-centric approach, with self-service platforms enabling stakeholders to be more autonomous.
As all of this happens, enterprises will gain at least five new values:
1. Through AI-powered service scoping and sourcing, collecting and analyzing volumes of real data will also bring much greater insights around legal spend. This gives teams greater insight into this investment to ensure it is being allocated to the highest priorities. It also enables general counsel and chief legal officers to more easily source the best service suppliers for specific requirements to maintain operational continuity through this critical time.
2. Practically speaking, AI-based platforms offer a wide span of new possibilities. AI can automate procurement life cycles and workflows using intelligent matching capabilities to process transactional requests. It can also use broader, richer, and deeper data sets regarding historical delivery, performance, and sustainability criteria. This creates faster and better decision-making for stakeholders in areas such as risk analytics, price forecasting, and spend optimization.
3. Whether renegotiating with existing service suppliers or seeking new law firms for specific requirements, AI-based platforms can facilitate vetting to quickly engage the right firm from among a large network of suppliers. This results in a significant competitive advantage for enterprises under pressure to maintain operations and business continuity at scale.
4. Additionally, machine learning provides increasingly rich data over time, allowing customers to fine-tune scoping requirements, provide feedback, and rate the supplier experience. This helps future transactions become ever more precise and productive.
5. AI-powered processes allow detailed scoping, faster and more efficient responses, and a comprehensive, side-by-side comparison of proposals. All this gives general counsel or chief legal officers the rich intelligence needed to make sound, timely decisions. It also levels the playing field for service suppliers, regardless of size or location, to offer their expert solutions to strategic, high-value enterprise needs.
No doubt -- all of this is a radical change for the legal sector, but it has been a long time coming. The current pandemic is only accelerating the inevitable. As we wait to see where 2020 takes the economy and the world, we can embrace the disruption as an uncomfortable but ultimately beneficial breakthrough in shifting a dynamic that no longer serves either side of the legal industry well. The moment for transformation is now.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bill Brooks is currently General Manager, Legal Sector, at Globality. He graduated from Dartmouth College with honors and received his MBA from the Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth. Following business school, Brooks did market research and long-range planning for Tonka Corporation. He graduated from The University of Michigan Law School and practiced law with Shanley & Fisher before joining the Hyatt enterprise in 1979. Brooks was a Senior Partner at Hyatt Legal Services which became the largest law firm in the United States. In 1990, the firm spun off its legal plans business into Hyatt Legal Plans, with Brooks as COO. He became CEO when the firm sold Hyatt Legal Plans to MetLife in 1997.
Globality connects multinational companies with the world’s best service suppliers at the right price for every project. Through its AI-powered Platform and Smart Sourcing technologies, Globality is bringing digital transformation to the procurement industry. Globality’s AI replaces the archaic analog request for proposal (RFP), efficiently and effectively matching companies with outstanding suppliers that meet their specific project needs, and cutting the sourcing process from months to hours while delivering savings of 20% or more for companies. Learn more at www.globality.com.