This series explores the ins and outs of Legal Intake & Triage – and how a few adjustments to the process can improve your operations, service and morale. In today’s installment, learn three simple questions that can help you build an intelligent approach to reoccurring work…no robots required.
If your Legal Department operates like most, you’re spending a little more than half of your time on straightforward, reoccurring matters – about 54 percent, according to The GC350 Benchmarking Study for the In-House Community. Indeed, the course of ordinary business sparks a steady stream of matters for the Legal Department, and about 84 percent of routine work is handled internally.
If your intake system is not set up to efficiently sort and address these matters, you could be spending considerable time and energy reinventing the proverbial wheel. (No wonder more than half of in-house counsel say they spend too much time “fighting fires” to achieve any long-term goals, according to the FindLaw Corporate Counsel Center.)
By incorporating some basic Knowledge Management tactics into your Intake & Triage process, you can process these routine matters faster and smarter. Your team will appreciate the newfound time savings, and your business clients will benefit from quicker turnaround times. Moreover, an intelligent approach to reoccurring requests will ensure you are working from the most recent precedent, boilerplate or budget – a significant help to both sides.
It doesn’t take sophisticated AI to incorporate intelligence into your Intake & Triage. Start by answering these three questions:
Step One: What work do we do the most?
Start by evaluating your most common types of legal work. If you are not currently using matter metrics or a system like Xakia, a good place to start is The GC350’s roundup of the types of work occupying the most in-house time: commercial agreements, regulatory issues, technology, intellectual property and employment.
For each of these, drill down into the types of work sought – for instance, for IP, you could include a trademark clearance search, a licensing agreement, et cetera. Consider what information you need from the business client: What do you need to know to get started? What do you find yourself going back and forth repeatedly about? Is there a business unit, geographic territory or customer who make very similar, very frequent requests?
Once you have your frequent flyers identified, create specific intake forms for them. At a basic level, these will collect the material you need to process the request. At an advanced level, these could auto-populate within your software once specific criteria are flagged.
Step Two: What work do we reference the most?
Consider your work from Step One. Which of these matters rely on specific institutional knowledge to complete – standard contract terms, jurisdiction-specific precedent, et cetera? Where does this information reside in your Legal Department, and how can you make it accessible – and potentially automatic – for anyone working on one of these matters?
At a basic level, this Knowledge Management could be housed on a simple spreadsheet shared throughout the Legal Department. For an advanced approach, you may build it directly into your matter management system. Either way, you lose no time duplicating efforts – or worse, risk missing a previously negotiated position.
Step Three: What work can we send back?
Your Knowledge Management strategy should not be limited to the borders of the Legal Department. Use this exercise to consider what frequent, non-strategic work truly warrants your attention….and what does not.
For matters that don’t necessarily need lawyering, work on training your business clients. Self-help tools can allow your business clients to troubleshoot, and checklists and boilerplates work well as quick references. It’s imperative that your business clients still act prudently and in the best interest of the organization, but with some savvy deployment of your Knowledge Management, you can empower them to handle many low-level concerns.
Ready to start the new year with a saner approach to Intake & Triage? Our newest white paper, 12 Steps to Smarter Legal Intake, will help you get started, with recommendations for Beginner-, Intermediate- and Advanced-level improvements.