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REDUCE WORKLOAD: How it works for legal departments

Author: Stephanie Simon-Sommer, Attorney at Law

Legal departments are under considerable stress. New regulations are constantly coming from Berlin and Brussels, bringing with them additional legal work. Hardly a business decision is made without the comment: “Legal should take another look at this!” However, it is rarely enough to simply look at it; there is often still a need for fine-tuning or discussion. This is why the legal department is often perceived as a “show stopper” within the company. This clearly clashes with the self-image of colleagues who see themselves as internal “enablers” who support the value-adding part of the operational business. In order for legal departments to truly realise their potential, the workload must therefore be reduced. Above all, this means getting rid of time-consuming routine tasks.

Optimising the legal intake process

But how do you manage to concentrate on what is really important? And still work through the rest? The first step is to optimise internal processes. If you hand over orders between the door and the door or at the coffee machine, you shouldn’t be surprised if they are processed incorrectly. The alternative doesn’t have to be a sophisticated ticketing system, but an order form can help. If such forms are sent to a centrally managed collective mailbox, the enquiries can be documented and assigned to a clerk. Processes can be tracked using an Excel spreadsheet, which – when prepared accordingly – can be a valuable reporting tool in addition to mapping the status quo. In the long term, however, it is worth introducing a legal intake ticketing system that requires even less manual work.

Create legally compliant documents more easily

How practical and legally compliant are the company’s sample contracts? If the answer is “could be better”: a surprisingly large proportion of the contract templates are suitable for being created by the respective specialist department itself with the help of IT-supported solutions. For example, document generators can be used that contain legally compliant templates created by the legal department. Thanks to a coordinated catalogue of questions and the resulting automated selection of suitable alternative clauses, they reduce the need to involve the legal department.

Accessible knowledge, for example with training courses

Colleagues often turn to the legal department with the same legal questions. And receive answers as detailed as necessary. As collegial as this exchange is, it eats up time. To reduce the workload for the legal department, internal training courses on recurring topics are a good idea. Setting up a FAQ and download area with corresponding samples and “how to” guides on the company intranet can also be a starting point here. E-learning programmes in particular can be implemented as required and with little effort.

Support through legal outsourcing

Why do everything yourself? Contract and NDA reviews, warranty cases and legal opinions on individual issues, such as competition or labour law, tie up too much capacity in day-to-day operations. It makes more sense for legal departments to prioritise their strategic work and delegate routine tasks. Legal outsourcing provides a remedy in the event of a permanently high workload or particularly labour-intensive order situations. The motto here is “Outsource the work that keeps you from working”.

Are you interested?

We would be happy to show you personally how we support legal departments – for example through legal outsourcing.

 

 

Stephanie Simon-Sommer worked as an in-house lawyer and senior legal manager and shares her experiences from corporate practice in our series “How legal departments work more efficiently”. The other episodes in the series:

 

  • Increasing efficiency, preventing frustration: why legal departments should be integrated in strategic corporate processes.

 

  • Finding – and retaining – specialists: Why companies should develop their lawyers and relieve their workload in parallel through legal outsourcing.

 

  • Legal outsourcing instead of building up in-house expertise: The case for external data protection and compliance officers.

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