Reinventing the In-House (And not Only) Legal Function

11 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2020

Date Written: September 14, 2020

Abstract

The pandemic has forced a traditionally in-office culture to a virtual work environment and new virtual business models will inevitably emerge for in-house legal departments and law firms. Both are obliged to innovate and rethink the way they work, including inter alia how to nurture the attorney-client relationship without in-person meetings or events. In this sense, Covid-19 pandemic is nothing else but a “disruption factor”. Especially for in-house legal teams these should be transformed into “Legal Risk Powerhouses”, semi embedded to, and fast paced as, commercial functions. We are indeed transiting from a seller’s to a buyer’s legal services market (a demand side forced change). High end transactional work will remain largely within the legal function’s scope. However, innovation will first impact low end legal fields. Low end legal work or even legal work of medium importance, but off business as usual nature, will be unavoidably outsourced to “Legal Hubs”, probably created and operated by Law Firms or paralegal cloud vendors. This new format of legal services offering, “Legal Hubs”, is another form of innovation that we will definitely witness. Law Firms will still address the high end transactional work in a tailored made approach like today, but they have to move both ways, building new capabilities and embracing technology & legal innovation on the one hand and also expanding to the low end of the legal work, creating cost based Legal Hubs or entering into strategic alliances with vendors, in order to be able to serve 360 & secure existing-legacy relationships with clients. In such an environment the in-house teams will have to become agile and “unstructured” and their role & focus will turn fundamentally to the legal risk prediction & mitigation modelling, versus the hands on risk handling itself. Heineman's paradigm of the in-house lawyer-statesman, in such an unstructured by design legal department “organization” has to undertake the role of a stellar business partner, embedded to the business and able to work & shine in unstructured environments following the fast paced -demand side- commercial world. Innovations in legal tech, new service delivery models, sophisticated legal tasks outsourcing tools and innovative legal operations reengineering will drive the change.

No matter what future each and every in-house legal team envisions for itself, the legal function of the future will have to embrace the transformational opportunities presented by data analytics that drive the change. In the past we were discussing about innovation cycles and programs-projects put in place in order to change legal operations, to improve the delivery of legal services and so on. Nowadays, more than ever before, we should anticipate that the change will become constant and disruptive, so there will be no anymore cycles of change, but a constant flow of change and innovation.

Keywords: Legal operations, Legal Hub, Legal Riks Powerhouses

Suggested Citation

Tompras, Theodossis G., Reinventing the In-House (And not Only) Legal Function (September 14, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3692588 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3692588

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