Making effective and efficient use of the legal ecosystem is about allocating tasks appropriately to maximize the value returned by the spend. But it’s also about bringing the individual players together seamlessly through tools and technology. Each of the five components described above has undergone digitalization in recent years, but an integrated, consistent approach is lacking. At the same time, a lack of shared effort can mean five times the investment – and effort – spent. Without a shared approach, there is a risk of blockages in the “legal data flow” from one player to another, which inadvertently creates new inefficiencies in the very process of trying to tackle the old ones.
An ecosystem approach is also a necessity if law stakeholders are to unleash the power of artificial intelligence (AI), mixing “legal data” extracted from that ecosystem with other external or corporate data – from finance, tax, sales, etc – to augment the performance of the legal function. “Augmented lawyer” functions are essentially about getting intelligent insights from data that the legal team can use. This can be as simple as solutions that use machine learning to read faster, for example by extracting relevant information from a corpus of contract documents. As the role of technology grows, in-house legal teams, starting with the largest, will be staffing AI specialists, automation specialists and data scientists alongside trained lawyers and their legal expertise.
One of the recent trends in technology law is the shift toward working on platforms. These tend to be developed by third-party vendors, who sell access to in-house law teams, law firms or other stakeholders. Smaller companies in particular can benefit from using these platforms as a shortcut to technology and innovation without the need to develop in-house. Another option for accessing, rather than acquiring, technology is to purchase managed services. EY Legal Managed Services, for example, deliver support across people (know-how), processes and technology, which fast-tracks an organization’s access to tools and knowledge. This almost immediate access is an important advantage given that technology sourcing projects can take around 18 months from idea to implementation.