Mastering workflow management in legal operations: Reducing risk and improving compliance
Those who work in the legal sector know just how important precision and compliance are to their operations. workflow management in legal operations has a particularly influential role to play as it helps curb risks and adhere to regulations. It can also have a big impact on operational efficiency, with a study by Gartner indicating that workflow automation can lead to a 30% reduction in the time spent on administrative tasks. No longer mired in piles of admin, legal teams are then able to spend their freed-up time on higher-value work. This means they can provide a better service and company resources are used more effectively.
Let’s look at the unique challenges that legal companies need to overcome and how workflow management in legal operations can help.
The challenges legal teams face
There are many challenges inherent in the legal sector that cause efficiency and accuracy to suffer, whilst deadlines are often missed. Using workflow management effectively can mitigate these issues and get operations running like a well-oiled machine. Below are the main roadblocks to efficiency in the legal industry.
Deadline Management: Legal cases are often time-sensitive with many deadlines. Workflow management tools can automate task scheduling and send reminders when an important date arrives.
Document Management: Workflow management systems centralize document storage and offer version and access controls. This is a big help in managing the mountains of documents involved in legal work.
Complex Workflows: Keeping on top of the complicated workflows typical of legal cases can be difficult. Workflow management gives you full visibility over every stage, task and approval so it is easier to track progress.
Compliance and Risk Management: Approval processes and compliance checks can be incorporated within the workflow so legal teams can reduce the dangerous risk of non-adherence to the law.
Workload Distribution: Legal workflow management software balances workloads. This helps prevent the uneven distribution of work that can so often lead to burnout and missed deadlines.
Client Communication: Poor communication can have a bad impact on a client’s trust. However, workflow management tools automate correspondence with regular updates and notifications so they’re always kept in the loop.
Reporting and Analytics: Informed decision-making is crucial to legal teams. Workflow management systems offer built-in analytics and reporting features that support a data-driven approach and process improvement.
Workflow management in legal operations gives legal teams the necessary tools to combat these challenges and achieve greater efficiency. This allows them to redirect their focus on providing the best service possible, whilst reducing errors and compliance breaches.
Nurturing compliance with precise workflow management
Legal operations are heavily governed by complex regulations and compliance is non-negotiable. Adopting workflow management effectively provides a safeguard against noncompliance, so that every step, action and document strictly adheres to prescribed protocols. For instance, let’s consider the onboarding of new clients by a law firm. Prior to implementing a workflow management legal platform, this firm’s client intake was fraught with delays, document discrepancies, and potential data breaches. After employing a streamlined workflow process, there was a significant reduction in data errors, faster client onboarding, and the establishment of secure data storage procedures. This is just one example of how workflow management can help optimize legal operations.
Mitigate risks and deliver better client outcomes
Risk is inherent in legal work. It might manifest as missed deadlines, incomplete filings, or overlooked critical details in contracts. However, research by the Association of Corporate Counsel has shown that organizations that embrace workflow management witness an average of 20% reduction in risk exposure. This is because workflow management functions as an alert system, flagging potential risks and prompting timely corrective actions. Imagine a litigation case where deadlines for evidence submission and court filings were previously prone to errors and delays. After integrating an automated workflow system, the legal team witnessed a marked reduction in missed deadlines and enhanced visibility into case progress, resulting in more favorable outcomes for their clients.
Use cases for legal workflow management
Intelligent case routing: Workflow management tools can identify the best personnel for each case based on their experience and expertise for the optimum use of resources.
Automated document management: The risk of critical information being misplaced or mishandled is reduced as documents are systematically organized, securely shared, and tracked across their lifecycle.
Task prioritization and tracking: A workflow management system will prioritize tasks in order of urgency. This prevents bottlenecks and ensures work gets done on time.
Milestone monitoring: Key case milestones are diligently tracked and the relevant team members are updated. This allows for proactive action so any potential roadblocks can be quickly averted.
Audit trail creation: Adhering to compliance standards is made much simpler with a workflow management system. It generates a comprehensive audit trail for a clear demonstration of due diligence.
The challenges of working in the legal sector are many and varied but workflow management provides a holistic solution. Complex cases are made easier to handle when you have full transparency over their progress and automation ensures that nothing gets missed. The worrying risk of non-compliance is also greatly reduced, in fact, according to Legaltech News, 76% of legal professionals believe that effective workflow management greatly enhances compliance adherence. Overall, organizations can attain greater efficiency and minimize errors with the use of workflow management. This reduces the pressure on legal teams and helps them to provide the best service possible.
Operational Soup is a term we use when work is being carried out, but businesses have little idea how much, by whom or exactly how it is processed.
Start orchestration in departments with strong use-cases to deliver value quickly. Often, good examples can be found in back/middle office process areas that have high variation and complexity such as finance or HR operations. Recent intelligence sourced through process mining suggests 80%+ of the work performed in a shared services organization is not performed in the ERP systems, but rather in Excel or Outlook. This is where Orchestration thrives.
Having orchestration implemented across our departments can be likened to having x-ray vision into your operations.
Global Head of Operations at TMF
Almost half of banking and investment CIOs (49%) and insurance CIOs (44%) indicated that they will increase their automation investments in 2021.
Source: Gartner, 2021