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Legal newsOctober 30, 2019

3 Steps to a Quick Win for the Newly Appointed General Counsel

When a company hires a general counsel, it often expects that things will work out immediately. True, GCs have the reputation of well-paid professional superheroes who sort out all the legal department’s issues with one hand and guard, advise and manage legal operations with the other one. Higher productivity, reduced legal costs and transparent legal processes go without saying. Is it even possible to stand up to all these expectations?

Balancing between quick results and the need to learn how things work in a new company can be quite overwhelming. More than that, executives often feel that they have little control over legal expenses since they are less accountable than other business services. This makes reporting and discussing funding another issue for the GC. The pressure is severe, and general counsels have to think not only about the department they lead but also about the business communication with the management and partners. Automating and optimizing as many tasks as possible is crucial for positions like general counsel.

Automating and optimizing as many tasks as possible is crucial for positions like general counsel.

How to Optimize Counsel Tasks From the Start

As a professional service provider employed by a company, a general counsel often becomes a business partner, occupying one of the top levels in the business hierarchy. Generally, the scope of tasks includes:

  • managing the legal department (paralegals, attorneys, researchers and all other legal professionals within the company)
  • tracking and controlling all legal actions that affect the company
  • providing legal advice and guidance to executives, supervising other legal professionals
  • ensuring and updating regulatory and corporate governance compliances
  • taking care of employment laws, customer privacy and intellectual property rights
  • Fortunately, with the development of technology, some of the tasks general counsels take care of can be automated. With legal AI as an assistant, reducing in-house legal costs and delegating the tedious tasks to software proves to be efficient and appreciated by both the head of the department and the employees. Here’s a set of tips you can follow to optimize your legal processes.

    Step 1. Identify routine legal tasks

    We all know that legal workflow is full of monotonous, repeatable duties lawyers cannot avoid. The usual suspects are:

  • NDAs, which are used in a variety of cases from the pre-employment agreements to litigation settlements
  • DPAs (data processing addendums) used every time to ensure personal data protection, GDPR compliance and responsibilities of a controller and processor
  • consulting agreements
  • MSAs, sales and procurement agreements
  • other types of contracts depending on the industry (settlement, license, lease, etc.)
  • The general counsel should define the types of documents that require a lot of routine drafting, revision and update.

    An area that often gets overlooked is routine corporate governance. Drafting secretary certificates, board minutes and PoAs can be extremely tedious, if your company has many wholly owned subsidiaries, which require standardized corporate approvals for every major action.

    Step 2. List business units that need similar documents

    Besides the legal department, typical documents are required by sales and procurement, financial and HR departments and many more. Even if the agreements are similar, corporate lawyers have to ensure that every contract caters to the needs of a specific department and, more than that, to a particular situation where the document will be used. The process seems quite troublesome since lawyers are not always familiar with the procedures of different departments, and digging into every situation is inefficient. General counsels have to move to a more optimized process of creating templates, drafts and negotiation playbooks.

    Step 3. Delegate document drafting process

    You need to create a mistake-free and well-controlled process of drafting agreements for all business units that may need them, without involving a legal professional on every step. The most straightforward way to do it is to create several “fill in the blanks” templates for every department. On the plus side, this solution is cheap and usually mistake-free. However, it is not always an optimal decision since you’ll have to create templates for each business unit’s unique requirements. On top of that, the help of a lawyer may be needed to work out specific details. The process of standardization itself is extremely time consuming, since you need to get many internal stakeholders to sign off.

    You need to create a mistake-free and well-controlled process of drafting agreements for all business units that may need them, without involving a legal professional on every step.

    Luckily, recently technology is getting better in helping GCs delegate more legal work to business units. Would you want your NDA agreement to be ready in two minutes instead of half an hour? If you count all the templates you have to draft, review and update, time savings can reach hundreds of hours per department per month.

    Your NDAs can be ready in two minutes instead of half an hour

    Sounds interesting?

    We are not talking about full fledged contract lifecycle management solutions, which take months to roll out and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. We are referring to the document assembly solutions, which are more lightweight. There are both legacy and new players in the market, but what is important to consider for a new GC is how much of your time will the roll-out of new product take. Most of them are DIY, which means you will kill many hours automating or building your own templates, but AXDRAFT takes a different approach

    AXDRAFT analyses your existing documents and builds a “dynamic template” that will add the necessary provisions to the contract depending on the answers of the user for you with little involvement of your team. Due to advanced content analysis, the solution can be up and running in a week. This way, the NDA template, for instance, will dynamically change depending on who requires it: a customer manager or an HR specialist. Not many automation tools can allow variability to satisfy the needs of all business units and tailor a document to a transaction. With AXDRAFT business units can draft and negotiate legal documents on their own according to pre-approved legal playbook; no legal interference needed at all.

    Once you eliminate the routine, your legal department will finally focus on vital tasks and achieve the efficiency your company’s executives require.

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