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How to Standardize Work and Achieve More with Less Effort

There are numerous activities that legal teams can standardize and then leave to line managers

Without spending or hiring, there is only one way to do more as a company: increase efficiency. And given the growing volume of demand that legal teams face, there is really no choice but to look for ways to get more bang for the same number of bucks.

Although it takes some work up front, many departments have a big opportunity to do more with less. Through a clever triage system informed by a model recently put in place by a healthcare company in CEB’s network of legal teams, teams can standardize a portion of their work portfolio and save everyone time.

This standardization takes place through two methods: automation and self-service guidance. Automated work generally refers to a technical solution. The legal team and the healthcare provider, for instance, found that people didn’t need to route, authorize, and track a certain class of contracts; they could do it through DocuSign.

And through self-service guidance, Legal can empower the business to take on tasks that are traditionally performed with the assistance of attorneys, but that don’t actually require a lawyer’s expertise. This frees up the business to move faster, reduces inconsistency, and likely saves the company money, given in-house counsel are highly paid.

Making a Start

The burning question for legal teams is, how do you figure out which work is ripe for either automation or self-service guidance? The decision can be made based two criteria. First, the scope of the activity should be determined – is the issue a common one across many areas of the business, or not? Second, the depth of legal judgment required.

Common workflows that have a meaningful impact on the business and don’t require too much legal expertise are ripe to scale through either one of these methods. Two steps can help legal teams evaluate tasks at their company.

  1. Generate a score: Pick a legal activity and select one answer for each criterion by marking it with a “1.” Add up the columns in each section to evaluate scope and depth of legal judgment required.

    Generate a score

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  2. Work out what the scores mean: Plot the answers from the first exercise on this graph to find out which workflows are suitable for automation or self-service guidance, also referred to as decision rules.

    Work out what the scores mean

    Click on chart to expand


When 50 Heads of Legal Tried This…

Roughly 50 general counsel and heads of legal completed this exercise during small-group CEB meetings in 2016. Participants identified 28 workflows that would be appropriate to scale. While every organization has different considerations, the results below may serve as a helpful conversation starter.

When 50 heads of legal tried this

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