In January, Wolters Kluwer and The Lawyer launched a survey that sought to determine how in-house legal teams use legal technology.

The opinions of 130 general counsel from leading organisations across the UK were gathered, and the analysis was supplemented by interviews with legal heads at organisations including Bupa, BT and the City Football Group.

This research formed part of a wider project conducted in collaboration between Wolters Kluwer and The Lawyer, which aimed to provide a platform for in-house departments looking to leverage technology and drive efficiency in the new normal.

The project included a successful roundtable and webinar session, which included insight from Maurits Annegarn of Wolters Kluwer and Matt Byrne of The Lawyer, as well as Emma Tregenza, general counsel at Emerald Group, Sara Mackie, group general counsel at French Connection, and many more leading in-house contributors.

The project was underpinned by the findings of the survey, which are now available within a free report available here.

Key findings

One crucial data point revealed by the survey is that all GCs expect their legal department will use some degree of legal technology every day within five years. Currently, seven per cent of legal departments do not use any legal technology day-to-day.

Despite this, only 40 per cent of GCs do not have a digital strategy to support the implementation of technology into their department.

The pandemic’s impact here cannot be ignored. The shift to home working necessitated a rapid shift in working practices, including an uptake of technologies that may have been used only tentatively before, such as e-signature and shared document repositories.

The report outlines how implementing a mature digital strategy when leveraging technology can help legal departments to demonstrate their value to the business while driving the wider organisation forward.

To this end, survey respondents were asked what changes they’re making to improve efficiency over the next three years. Almost half of respondents indicated they are to ‘give more autonomy to the business’.

This is inextricably linked to value. Giving more autonomy to the business, via self-serve contracts for example, means freeing lawyers from the low-complexity high-volume tasks that can eat up a huge part of the workday.

By having more time to focus on high complexity tasks and strategy, a legal department can help drive its own value and the value of the broader business.

As acceptance of legal technology grows, it is important to understand barriers to, and challenges when, introducing solutions. More than half of respondents identified ‘gaining stakeholder/user buy-in’ as a key challenge. One respondent to the survey commented, simply, that: “Successful adoption can be the biggest hurdle to new tech.”

The report outlines how to overcome these barriers. One technique promoted by leading GCs is using an ‘influencer’, or an in-house champion of a new solution. One GC said: “I think having someone dedicated to influencing change and getting everybody to make an effort can make [the implementation of technology] worthwhile.”

These findings and further insights and analysis are included within our report, which is available to download now.