In-house Lawyers: Self-Service Empowerment for Businesses

August 19, 2023

Empowering the business to self-serve their legal teams typically involves providing them with the tools, resources, and autonomy to perform various tasks and functions independently. Empowering the business can literally save the legal department – it frees up your time to focus on the real value add/business critical issues whilst allowing the business to complete simple, low risk tasks themselves. At a high level you will need to ensure you give the business the knowledge they need to help themselves, this may require training, and will require a feedback loop.

Encouraging the business to self-serve in legal matters requires proactive efforts from the legal department. Below we look at several ‘pieces of the puzzle’:

Let’s look in a little more detail at each piece.

Provide self-help resources

Develop a comprehensive library of easy-to-understand self-help resources, including templates, playbooks, FAQs, and guidelines. Make these resources easily accessible through a centralised portal or knowledge base (i.e., utilise legal tech).

Training and workshops

Offer training sessions and workshops for employees and departments to ensure that they know how to use these resources effectively. Training may be mandatory for certain departments and optional for others.

Clear communication

Clearly communicate the benefits of self-service, such as faster response times, cost savings, and increased autonomy - self-service is not about bypassing the legal department but about expediting routine processes.

Regular updates

Keep self-help resources up to date with the latest legal changes, best practices, and industry standards. Encourage users to check for updates periodically or consider setting up an ‘update alert’ or repeat training.

Legal champions

Identify and train individuals within each department as "legal champions." These employees can act as liaisons between their departments and the legal department, helping to answer basic legal questions and guide colleagues to self-help resources. Building relationships across the business increases the reputation of the legal team and can increase confidence of end users.

Customised training

It may be necessary to tailor training and resources to specific departments or teams, as their legal needs may vary. Ensure that each group understands how self-service applies to their unique context.

Feedback mechanisms

Enable employees can suggest improvements to self-help resources and provide input on their effectiveness. Act on valuable feedback to continually improve your service offering.

Legal clinics

Alongside training and workshops you might consider organising periodic legal clinics or office hours where employees can seek clarification on legal issues and receive guidance on using self-help resources effectively.

Progress tracking

Monitor the usage of self-help resources (legal tech can help with this) and track the organisation's progress in terms of reduced dependency on the legal department for routine matters (metrics). Share success stories and statistics to showcase the benefits.

Integration with workflows

Where possible integrate self-service legal tools and resources into the organization's workflow and software platforms, making it seamless for employees to access them when needed (legal tech strikes again).

Regular Check-Ins

Conduct regular check-ins with departments and teams to assess their evolving self-service needs and help where required. Like training and legal clinics this helps maintain a proactive approach to self-service adoption.

Leadership support

Set the tone at the top – secure buy-in and support from senior leadership, such endorsement of self-service initiatives can encourage widespread adoption.

How can legal tech assist in this?

Legal tech can play a significant role in empowering businesses to self-serve in various ways. Many of the puzzle pieces above could benefit from the involvement of legal tech. See our insightful ‘Implementing and leveraging legal tech’ section above.

Legal tech can assist with the development of the all-important self-help portals that offer guidance on common legal issues. Within the portal you can include template, playbooks, contract automation, contract repository, a chatbot and mechanisms to track usage.

Legal tech platforms can automate the creation and customization of legal documents such as contracts, agreements, and compliance documents. This allows the business to generate legally sound documents without the need for a lawyer. You will, however, need to train the business on when and how to use them. It also assumes you have a template suite ready to go (if not, you will need to sort this first).

Alongside automatic document creation, contract management tools exist, that enable businesses to store, track, and manage their contracts efficiently. Self-service contract repositories simplify contract retrieval and review (the business can access final signed agreements without needing to go through the legal team)

Once the self-help portal is up and running a chatbot can be used to help business users navigate the content: it can answer common legal questions and guide businesses through legal processes. They can offer 24/7 support, enhancing self-service capabilities.

In the background legal tech platforms can provide analytics and insights into legal data, helping businesses and their legal teams make informed decisions about their legal strategies and expenditures.

In short legal tech can save time and reduce legal costs whilst promoting legal compliance and risk management.

How can templates and playbooks help the business self-serve and free up the legal teams time and resources?

Templates and playbooks can be invaluable tools for businesses to self-serve in legal matters, while also freeing up the legal team's time and resources. See how they can help in ‘Making the most of templates and playbooks’ above.

In essence, templates and playbooks enable businesses to handle routine legal tasks efficiently and independently, reducing the legal team's workload and allowing them to focus on more complex and strategic legal matters that genuinely require their expertise. This approach promotes both cost-efficiency and legal compliance within the organisation.

Standardisation: Templates and playbooks provide standardised formats and procedures for common legal documents and processes. Businesses can use these as a starting point, ensuring consistency and reducing the need for legal team involvement in routine matters.

Efficiency: Businesses can save time by using pre-made templates for contracts, agreements, and other legal documents. This reduces the back-and-forth communication with the legal team, expediting the document creation process.

Reduced Risk: Playbooks include best practices and guidelines for specific legal scenarios. By following these playbooks, businesses can make informed decisions and reduce the risk of legal errors or oversights.

Cost Savings: Self-serving with templates and playbooks reduces the need to engage external legal counsel or hire additional legal staff. This leads to cost savings for the business.

Empowerment: Templates and playbooks empower non-legal staff to handle routine legal tasks independently. This allows the legal team to focus on more complex and strategic legal matters.

Consistency: Playbooks ensure that business processes align with legal requirements and industry standards consistently. This reduces the chances of non-compliance and associated legal issues.

Faster Decision-Making: With predefined playbooks, businesses can make decisions faster, as they have access to guidance and templates that facilitate the legal aspects of their operations.

Scalability: As businesses grow, they can easily scale their legal processes using templates and playbooks, ensuring that legal operations remain efficient and compliant.

Training and Onboarding: Templates and playbooks can be used for training and onboarding new employees, helping them understand legal procedures and requirements quickly.

Audit Trail: By using templates and following playbooks, businesses create an audit trail that documents their compliance efforts, which can be essential in case of legal disputes or regulatory inquiries.

Customisation: While templates provide a foundation, they can be customised to suit specific business needs. Legal teams can provide guidance on how to adapt templates effectively.

Self-Assessment: Playbooks may include self-assessment tools that allow businesses to evaluate their compliance and identify areas that need improvement.

Can having a single portal to the legal department help?

Yes, having a single portal to the legal department can be highly beneficial for both the legal team and the rest of the organisation. A single portal to the legal department serves as a hub for all legal-related activities, enhancing communication, efficiency, transparency, and compliance. It not only benefits the legal team by streamlining their workflow but also empowers the entire organisation to interact with the legal department more effectively and independently.

By using these pieces to complete the puzzle (implementing strategies), the legal department can foster a culture of self-service within the business enabling teams to handle routine legal matters independently and freeing up the legal team's time for more complex and strategic issues. In summary, the keys to business empowerment, are:

  • Creating a comprehensive knowledge base or self-help portal with tutorials, FAQs, and documentation to guide the business on when and how they should self-serve;
  • training the business on how to use the knowledge base, templates and playbooks (all should be in clear language and simple to follow);
  • feedback mechanisms to gather input from businesses, allowing you to continually improve your self-service offerings (the needs of the business will change over time, this enables you to adapt to the evolving needs); and
  • providing a solution that is scalable with the business.

Centralized Access: A single portal serves as a centralized point of access for all legal matters, making it easy for employees and other departments to reach out to the legal team when needed.

Streamlined Communication: It streamlines communication between different departments and the legal team. Requests, queries, and documentation can be submitted through the portal, ensuring that nothing gets lost in email inboxes.

Efficiency: The portal can automate workflows and processes, ensuring that requests are routed to the appropriate legal professionals quickly and efficiently. This reduces response times and speeds up decision-making.

Transparency: Having a single portal promotes transparency in legal matters. Employees and stakeholders can track the status of their requests, contracts, or legal issues, which builds trust and accountability.

Knowledge Sharing: The portal can serve as a repository of legal resources, including templates, playbooks, and legal FAQs. This knowledge sharing helps employees find answers to common legal questions independently.

Analytics and Reporting: The portal can generate analytics and reports on legal requests and issues, helping the legal team identify trends, bottlenecks, and areas for improvement.

Cost Control: By centralizing legal requests and documentation, organizations can better manage legal costs and allocate resources more effectively.

Compliance Management: The portal can include compliance tracking and reminders, ensuring that the organization stays on top of regulatory requirements and deadlines.

Scalability: As the organization grows, the portal can scale to accommodate increased demand for legal services and information.

Security: A centralized portal can be designed with robust security measures to protect sensitive legal information and ensure compliance with data privacy regulations.

Self-Service: Depending on its features, the portal can empower employees and other departments to find answers to common legal questions and access self-service resources, reducing the burden on the legal team for routine inquiries.

In summary, a single portal to the legal department serves as a hub for all legal-related activities, enhancing communication, efficiency, transparency, and compliance. It not only benefits the legal team by streamlining their workflow but also empowers the entire organization to interact with the legal department more effectively and independently.

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