Questioning the fusion of neuroscience and technology, as well as its impact on legal teams, may seem a daunting challenge, but it is one that LexisNexis has embraced of late. In fact, the topic was at the heart of a recent roundtable hosted by LexisNexis’ director of product solutions Christopher O’Connor in collaboration with The Lawyer, which was attended by in-house lawyers from various organisations.

Underlying the discussion was a recent piece of research that revealed 46 per cent of in-house lawyers use between five and nine different technology systems per day. This data emerged during a session LexisNexis held with a behavioural psychologist over the summer, during which the group sought to understand the neuroscience behind working patterns, and how the pandemic has changed that.

Christopher O’Connor

When enquiring about employers using these different technology systems during a working day, O’Connor kicked off the conversation by highlighting the threat of lost hours: “You are dividing your time into very slim slithers and that has a real impact on productivity,” he said, adding that it takes 23 minutes to refocus your concentration once it has been broken. “When you think about switching between the five or more different tools you are using, every single time you are flicking between them, it then takes that 23 minutes to get your focus back.”

O’Connor also stressed how this is a particular risk for lawyers given how detailed-orientated their work needs to be, in an environment with increasing workloads and a demand for efficiencies. He also posed a question to delegates to find out how often they can conduct a 30-minute task without distractions.

One GC admitted that for him it was extremely infrequent: “It tends to be where either I clear out time in my diary, but even then you are a bit of risk [of interruption], or when I would have an hour to do a task during unconventional working hours, such as the evening or at the weekends.”

On the topic of disruptions in the working day, O’Connor said that LexisNexis is experimenting with a three-window period in the week where employees are told not to book any meetings and to reserve the time for focused thinking.

Another delegate suggested turning off notifications on his emails as a means of limiting interruptions, while another GC said she operated on a “blocking out my calendar basis”. “I put down things I’ve got to get down in one or two-hour blocks,” she said. “I do that every week for preserving things to get some key documents read or reviews done. Anyone who looks at my diary then knows there is no time that they can put in a meeting. If I had not done that then I could not keep up with my work.”

When discussing possible solutions to the maintaining of focus, O’Connor highlighted the LexisNexis Create product which reduces a switch between technology systems, therefore, limiting the break in concentration. The tool is a plug-in for Microsoft Word which can be used without switching over to a different application.

Meanwhile, another attendee highlighted the importance of Microsoft Teams within his own legal team, particularly in being able to add employees to various channels. “This has helped a lot with information sharing and getting access to what a product team is looking at in terms of immediate workloads. It allows us to be more joined up.”

O’Connor asked other delegates which systems and tools they use most frequently in the office, with many highlighting the likes of SharePoint, DocuSign, Microsoft Word and Excel. He then asked how well do they integrate with each other, with one attendee claiming that his experience of working virtually over the past year has made it far easier, particularly when switching between core applications such as Teams.

To conclude the session, O’Connor emphasised the risk of lost of time when switching between technology systems and highlighted how the use of technology can be a force for good. Attendees were also encouraged to share ideas of how to protect working time from unwanted distractions, particularly as we continue to embrace our long-term shift to virtual operations.

Sponsor’s commentary:

LexisNexis combines a deep understanding of the legal profession with technology innovation to put you at the centre of your business, successfully managing risk and helping you build a reputation for trusted and timely advice.

Listening and learning from the in-house community forms the bedrock of our approach. That’s how we know every lawyer is different, as is every in-house team. In response, we have developed an unrivalled portfolio of legal solutions and tools that suit the specific needs of in-house counsel.

One such tool is Lexis Create, which enables in-house lawyers to easily search through precedents and individual clauses and add them into legal documents. Integrated into Microsoft Office, it reduces the need to switch between different programmes, limiting distractions. It also facilitates collaborative working, allowing different elements of a document to be assigned to specific team members. Find out more about how you could save time and money with Lexis Create.