The future of in-house: Technology
Working as an in-house lawyer is always going to be an attractive proposition due to the rewarding and challenging nature of the job.
These roles offer a level of interaction with non-lawyers and a greater degree of involvement with decision makers that is not possible when serving at a private practice. However, like many other professional service industries, people have to be prepared to move with the times.
The legal profession has greatly benefited from technology in the past decade, as web connectivity has opened the door for a range of new processes that deliver efficiency, optimise resources and allow them to offer a better service.
Bearing this in mind, let's have a look at how technology can shape the future of the profession.
Lawyers are busy people and so may forget to carry out some tasks from time to time. Keeping clients up to date with their case, completing invoices and drawing up relevant reports can all be time consuming. However, by employing software that automates either part of or all of these processes, legal professionals can free up some of their time to focus on other priorities. For example, by using matter management software, law departments will be required to send regular updates before they are even allowed to draw up invoices.
Specialist recruiters can help to identify the best staff for their specific roles. However, technology also has its role to play in the recruitment process. By tracking the workload of a legal department over time and highlighting the amount of money spent on contractors, it is much easier to make the business case for a new hire. With multinational companies making it clear that in-house has to provide a full service that not only manages costs but also aligns the service with business needs, having access to accurate figures has never been more important.
Risk and compliance have always been massive issues for the legal profession and cyber security has merely amplified this. Pavel Klimov - general counsel (EMEA) for US-based technology giant Unisys - told The Lawyer that the issue of cyber security has to be forced into the boardroom. As well as studying vulnerabilities, Mr Klimov said that companies also have to consider what reactive measures are required in the event of a breach. "The issue is not only thinking about how to protect your entry points, but also that the critical business data for your business or your client's business is treated in such a way that even if your peripheral perimeter fails or is breached, the hackers will not be able to cause damage," he stated.
Intellectual property (IP)
A legal department management system can offer a full service when it comes to IP. This means a range of IP processes, including patents, designs, trademarks, contracts and domain names, can be monitored efficiently. Regardless of the stage of the IP lifecycle, be it patent renewals to docketing services and portfolio analysis, technology can make sure clients' intangible assets are collaboratively managed.