Once organizations reach a certain size, companies will have to face a constant balancing act: deciding whether (and how much) to bring legal staff on as full-time employees. As in-house counsel, I recognize the unique value outside lawyers bring to the table. They can provide important expertise, offer a second opinion, and jump into a project when in-house counsel get swamped. At the same time, companies are becoming increasingly aware that it makes sense not only to have smart lawyers on speed dial, but to actually bring them into the office and embrace legal automation.
Hiring in-house counsel has several clear benefits. It gives you a dedicated person who is always available when you need and who becomes a part of your company’s culture, tailoring processes to your organization’s needs. These are people who can spot legal issues early and who can keep their finger on the legal pulse of the organization. Most importantly, if you have a steady flow of work, it just makes sense budget-wise to allocate that work to a dedicated member of your staff. Especially with rising legal costs and the advent of legal automation technologies, in-house counsel in many instances present an attractive alternative to the high hourly rates of outside counsel.
I think we will continue to see organizations expand their in-house legal departments. With costs of outside counsel as compared to inside counsel, and with technology bolstering what can be handled internally, it seems inevitable. More and more, what has long been necessary drudgery can now be automated, freeing up in-house counsel to do substantive work, and making them more productive than ever.
And with that comes an opportunity for companies like Exari to advocate for bringing our contract management solution to growing legal departments. As Exterro’s 2016 In-House Legal Benchmarking Report explores, most in-house counsel surveyed plan to expand their departments. A full 77% said that they expect to perform more legal services in-house in the immediate next two years alone.
Along with that plan for expansion comes a bet on technology improving formal processes. A solid contract management system will be a key part of handling the day-to-day work of these additional employees, which is why I’m so proud and excited to work at Exari (and make use of our own products). Legal automation is the future—not replacing, but rather supporting growing in-house legal departments.