In-house legal firms are working smarter, especially after surviving the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the height of the crisis, in-house teams were leveraged to develop risk management solutions, provide advice and assurance to advisors, and respond to unexpected organizational changes. Now that the economy is still recovering from the aftermath of the pandemic, legal departments are starting to find more efficient ways of accomplishing their work and supporting their enterprises.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the foundations of in-house legal teams, but many firms are changing the course of their future by implementing the following practices:
Better Work-Life Balance
In-house legal firms are starting to offer a better work-life balance due to the shifting preferences of lawyers. Like most employees, these professionals were able to enjoy their personal lives while working from home during the height of the pandemic.
Now that employees are going back to the office, LHH notes that attorneys are choosing to go in-house so that they can strike a balance between their work and personal lives. In fact, an in-house organization’s strategy for work-life balance is a big selling point, now that attorneys are more conscious about their working environment. This cultural shift will now be adopted by in-house legal firms, especially if they want more talent on their team.
In-house legal firms took on greater responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the legal teams needed all hands on deck, they utilized collaborative solutions for coordinating with colleagues and assisting clients.
Lexington Consultants recommends collaborative tools because they help lawyers increase their turnover by about 20% per client. These experts explained that alignment between legal partners is essential since it improves the internal workings of the firm and fosters a better link to the organizational client. In-house legal departments at IBM, Nokia, Microsoft, Spotify, and Amazon, for example, are investing in these tools to improve the efficiency of their internal staff even post-pandemic.
Automated Legal Processes
In-house legal firms aren’t just improving their culture, they are also adopting the best working practices that they learned during the pandemic. Thanks to the rapid digital transformation during the past few years, in-house legal firms are automating processes to improve the workforce’s efficiency.
For instance, the legal team of technology and manufacturing company Honeywell created an automation project to improve their contract management. This tool is integrated with artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies that can monitor contracts. With the meteoric rise of AI and machine-learning innovations, these technologies are likely to be widely adopted across in-house legal firms.
Virtual Litigation Practices
Attorneys had to attend virtual trials during the pandemic, since social distancing protocols prohibited live court hearings. To accomplish this, in-house legal firms are now conducting mediation and pre-trial processes by video to streamline the process. This is done alongside the organization’s IT teams to keep their platforms and networks secure.
These virtual litigation practices are proving to be advantageous when coordinating witnesses because there are fewer logistical challenges. Documents are also submitted, viewed, and given to the witnesses using virtual platforms for greater accessibility. Since virtual litigation practices are more convenient, it's likely to remain as an option for court proceedings in the post-pandemic future.
In-house legal firms had to adopt creative strategies to maintain their efficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving forward, it's clear that the best practices that emerged during the crisis will be implemented across in-house legal firms for better efficiency, productivity, and accessibility in the field.