Insights

March 28 2019

How the Role of General Counsel is Changing

The days when general counsels (GCs) focused entirely on advising companies about legal risks are over. In today’s corporate legal environment, GCs are expected to provide strategic advice to top-level decision-makers and to help grow the business.

The evolution of the general counsel role creates both added pressure to move the needle on business performance and an obligation to do more with less. In response, GCs must innovate to achieve desired outcomes and fulfill their role as valued internal partners. For most GCs, this means embracing technology and alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) as key resources in corporate legal processes.

From risk advisors to strategic business leaders

Historically, GCs advised their companies on legal risks and shouldered responsibility for the organization’s legal work, but rarely engaged in top-level decision making. However, corporate leaders increasingly expect GCs to participate in strategic advisory for compliance, contract negotiations, corporate ethics, transaction monitoring, and many other activities that extend well beyond the traditional boundaries of the general counsel position. In some corporations, GCs are even asked to serve as board members.

As a result of their expanded responsibilities, 88 percent of GCs believe they play a strategic role in corporate decision making, according to Ashurst. In some ways, the general counsel position has transformed into something akin to a C-suite role—GCs must now make decisions that generate measurable business value.

Although GCs command a louder voice in corporate decision making, the general counsel’s expanded role as a strategic business leader also presents new challenges, including an urgency to demonstrate the legal function’s role in improving business performance. In fact, Ashurst’s data shows that a significant majority of GCs (83%) now feel pressure to improve the efficiencies of their function and to reduce costs.

The expansion of the general counsel’s responsibilities reflects its growing importance to the business. As those responsibilities continue to rise, GCs must adapt their strategies and embrace innovations that create business value and demonstrate how the legal function directly impacts the company’s bottom line.

Technology and legal managed services are vital to the general counsel’s success

Technology offers a solution for GCs feeling the weight of added workload and management responsibilities. Proven, low-risk solutions enable GCs to improve the quality of work output, increase efficiency, and streamline work processes. Although GCs are tasked with mitigating risk, they must adopt an approach to implementing legal technology that balances risk against the ability to generate value for the business.

The use of low-risk technology may be most beneficial in the area of routine legal work. For example, legal contract management systems manage multiple drafts of agreements over the course of negotiations, creating a system that allows GCs and other leaders to monitor the status of active negotiations in real time.

Similarly, GCs can leverage the power of legal technology in contract data extraction solutions that are designed to uncover insights that produce more favorable outcomes at lower costs in future agreements. By capturing key terms as data points and generating reporting across document types to identify trends in agreements, contract data extraction solutions help GCs eliminate the guesswork from advising on legal outcomes and reduce the bias of recalling only memorable transactions that may not accurately reflect true outcomes.

Some legal managed services combine advanced, cloud-based technologies with a remote work model to deliver outsourced legal services for NDAs, joinders, engagement letters, and other types of routine legal documents. ALSPs give GCs access to an expanded pool of legal talent with narrow specializations, improving the cost efficiency of the company’s legal function, while simultaneously resulting in a higher quality of work.

In many cases, piecemeal solutions lack the strategic value and cost efficiency of a consolidated approach. Savvy GCs typically optimize performance and maximize return on investment by focusing on integrated, end-to-end solutions that combine proven legal technologies with legal managed services, including ALSPs.

The evolving nature of the general counsel role represents a win-win for both companies and legal departments. By embracing their new role as strategic business leaders, GCs are in a better position to manage risk and influence the future of the business.

However, navigating the additional workload and responsibilities of their expanded role requires GCs to move beyond the status quo and explore new ways to generate value for the business. The combination of technology and legal managed services offers GCs reliable tools for improving both performance and efficiency—factors that will ultimately determine their success as strategic business leaders.

InCloudCounsel offers a global, end-to-end legal tech solution that automates and enhances routine legal processes, helping to free up GCs so they can stay focused on high-impact work. Want to learn more? Contact us today.

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March 14 2019

Data Management: An Important Legal Tech Solution for General Counsels

In the legal industry, compliance and risk concerns often require a cautious approach to the adoption of new legal technologies. However, as nascent technologies mature, in-house legal teams are embarking on digital transformation journeys that incorporate data management and outsourced legal services into the practice of law.

Given the vast amount of business and legal data available to in-house teams, data management is emerging as a key priority for in-house legal teams. Yet, the prospect of using data as a catalyst for digital innovation presents several key questions for general counsels:

  1. Which processes are most ripe for data management improvements?
  2. How can in-house legal teams best leverage legal technology to make better use of their data?
  3. What steps should in-house legal teams take to ensure the security of legal and business data when implementing such legal tech solutions?

By addressing these questions and gaining greater clarity about data management best practices, in-house legal teams can lay the groundwork for the secure and effective use of data as a business asset.

Legal AI-enabled solutions create new opportunities for in-house legal teams

Artificial intelligence (AI) provides a key to unlocking data management opportunities in the legal space. When routine tasks are offloaded to AI-powered applications from outsourced legal services, attorneys can better maintain focus on core responsibilities. Ultimately, these AI-human pairings make legal workflows more efficient and accurate.

The automation of historically manual and routine compliance processes can reduce the potential for human error and ensures that protocols are followed. For example, automated solutions can alert attorneys to take action upon the occurrence of certain events, such as when a contract contains a restrictive covenant or a critical date is approaching.

Some of the data-based processes that are ripe for digital transformation through the use of legal AI and other legal tech solutions include:

  1. Document abstracting. In the past, document abstracting has been a manually intensive process, making it both inefficient and prone to human error. When paired with experienced and specialized attorneys, AI-enabled technologies streamline the document abstracting process by summarizing key terms and verifying their accuracy against contractual provisions. With InCloudCounsel’s solution, the key terms of a finalized agreement are entered as data points, linked to specific language in an agreement and then turned into an easy-to-reference scorecard. From there, companies can tap into scorecard data to create interactive reports and data visualizations.
  2. Data-driven insights. Legal departments generate vast amounts of business and legal data that can be harnessed to uncover insights capable of generating value for the firm and its clients. With a contract data extraction solution, corporate legal teams can leverage analytics to unearth key trends. Private equity sponsors, for example, are often interested in analyzing terms of their stock purchase agreements. Collecting data points on indemnity caps, baskets, and survival allows them to negotiate future agreements more effectively. As a result, they’re better positioned to achieve better outcomes at a lower cost and in a faster time period.
  3. Real-time negotiation tracking. In most in-house legal departments, simply monitoring active negotiations requires a herculean effort and there are no guarantees that leaders have ongoing visibility into important matters. Advanced data management solutions track the status of the active negotiations in real time and ensure constant visibility into the status of material issues.

Data security best practices for in-house legal teams

While in-house legal teams stand to benefit from utilizing AI-enabled legal technologies to improve their data management practices, they need to ensure that any outsourced legal service contains an enterprise-grade security infrastructure. With cybercriminals increasingly targeting businesses of all sizes, it’s more important than ever for decision-makers to re-evaluate their legal team’s ability to protect business and client data from unauthorized access.

Partnering with a data management service can bring significant benefits for in-house legal teams. When evaluating the flow of data both internally and with legal process outsourcing partners, it’s critical to assess the security of existing systems and to identify vulnerabilities. In some cases, additional legal technologies or strategies may be required.

Additionally, firm leaders need to gain clarity about the security status of the firm’s legal technology solutions. For example, at InCloudCounsel, we provide data encryption, redundant storage and backup, certified ISO27001 and SOC 1/2 data center hosting, regular security audits and testing, and other capabilities within our robust security infrastructure.

Taking the next step in improved data management

At InCloudCounsel, our end-to-end legal process outsourcing solution to automate routine legal processes includes a software platform with comprehensive data management features. Combined with our network of expert attorneys, we help hundreds of companies operate more efficiently, better manage compliance obligations, and gain valuable insights about their business and the broader market. Ready to learn more? Contact us today.

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February 21 2019

3 Steps for Managing High-Volume NDAs

Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) play an essential role in important legal matters. Without NDAs, some of the world’s largest corporate transactions could be subject to substantial business and legal risk.

For large companies, a high volume of NDAs is a given—but also a challenge due to the drawbacks of traditional solutions for completing and managing the work. Although some companies tap internal resources to handle routine legal work, these individuals often lack the bandwidth. Time spent handling NDAs comes at a cost as time is taken away from higher impact work. In some cases, they may even lack the expertise required to effectively negotiate and manage these recurring agreements.

Other companies outsource routine legal work to traditional law firms, but the work usually falls to generalist, junior staff, while the firm charges their costly standard rates.

What can companies do to effectively handle a high volume of NDAs in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible, while also yielding a high-quality output? To uncover an ideal NDA solution for their processes, companies can follow several steps.

  1. Outsource the work to an ALSP – Outsourcing to a third party is the most efficient way to handle the high volume of NDAs that most companies face. However, general counsels must take precautions and engage the right kind of third party. Alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) offering legal technology-enabled solutions serve as the ideal option for outsourcing recurring agreements because they can offer faster completion of NDAs at a substantially lower cost than traditional law firms—and with better end results.
  2. Leverage specialization – When you’ve made the decision to turn to a legal process outsourcing partner, it’s not enough to simply find someone capable of taking over your NDA workload. Although NDAs are common agreements for corporate transactions, effective negotiation and management still requires specialized document and industry expertise. Your in-house legal team should select an ALSP that offers a solution that includes highly experienced attorneys who specialize in NDAs and understand your industry.
  3. Evaluate the role of technology – The specialist ALSP you choose to engage for your NDA needs should include best-in-class technology as part of its solution. Cloud-based platforms offering document and workflow management features can drive substantial process efficiencies. In addition to providing efficiency benefits, contract data extraction technology allows valuable insights to be exacted from business and legal data in NDAs. For example, companies can identify trending terms across NDAs, helping them to approach future negotiations more effectively and better manage compliance obligations.

NDAs play an important role in corporate transaction processes. Without the right solution for handling them, companies are vulnerable to potential process inefficiencies, higher costs, and poor outcomes. ALSPs can offer solutions combining specialist-level resources with cutting-edge technology to handle NDAs without the pain points of traditional approaches.

Looking for a better way to handle your NDAs? InCloudCounsel combines some of the world’s best corporate attorneys with cloud-based document management and reporting software to offer a scalable, end-to-end solution for negotiating and managing routine legal work that helps companies streamline processes, free up resources, and achieve substantial cost savings.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can provide substantial value to your company.

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January 14 2019

Inside InCloudCounsel’s European Expansion

At InCloudCounsel, we believe the most effective way to serve enterprise customers is to deliver a comprehensive, global solution to a problem. This belief was central in our decision to set up dedicated operations in Europe by opening an office in London.

By doing so, we’re able to provide our end-to-end solution for negotiating and managing routine legal work to a greater number of companies across Europe. This milestone also represents an important step forward in our quest to deliver a truly seamless global solution to our large enterprise clients, with plans to work in all major legal markets in Europe and open an office in Asia-Pacific by year-end. Our expansion also creates valuable corporate legal work opportunities for highly experienced lawyers who are seeking a flexible work arrangement.

What factors played into the expansion, and who did we select to run our new international operations? Read on for the details.

Why the expansion?

From the beginning, many of our global clients have said that when it comes to negotiating and managing routine legal work, they experience the same pain points in their European divisions as they do in the U.S. They’re generally stuck choosing between two imperfect options: sending the work to a traditional law firm (and paying high rates for it to be handled by junior, generalist attorneys) or trying to find the right internal staff to effectively handle the work, ultimately taking focus away from the core aspects of their jobs.

Outsourcing legal work to InCloudCounsel’s network of highly experienced remote lawyers working on our cloud-based platform offers a best-in-class solution that can help large companies streamline processes, free up resources, and save money.

London was the natural choice for our first European office because it’s widely regarded as a business and legal hub of Europe.

According to Research and Markets’ Legal Services Global Market Report 2017, the U.K. was the largest European legal market in 2016, accounting for about $45 billion or 7 percent of the global market. From a business perspective, London hosts 40 percent of the European headquarters of the world’s top companies, according to Deloitte.

Based on these numbers, it’s clear that London is home to an abundant number of companies that could benefit from our end-to-end solution for negotiating and managing routine legal work.

InCloudCounsel’s London leader

Once we set our sights on establishing operations in London, we had to find the right person to run our new office. We sought a leader with deep experience in corporate and international law based in London and attuned to the European legal landscape.

Our search led us to Bridget Deiters. Bridget joins InCloudCounsel as Managing Director, U.K. Prior to InCloudCounsel, Bridget practiced corporate and capital markets law at Kirkland & Ellis and Cravath in London. Bridget holds a J.D. from Georgetown and a B.A. from Yale, and she brings extensive international legal experience to our company.

Looking forward

We couldn’t be more excited about the increased value that our European expansion will allow us to bring to our large enterprise clients. With our London presence established, we welcome the opportunity to spread our best-in-class solution to other large companies throughout Europe.

With increased access to a wider international audience, we’ll continue to grow our network of remote lawyers by providing a uniquely flexible yet steady work arrangement. As we aim to open our first office in Asia-Pacific by year-end, we foresee even more growth in both our attorney network and the volume of enterprises with access to our offering, putting us well on our way to providing clients with a truly global offering wherever they operate.

Interested in learning more about InCloudCounsel’s global, end-to-end solution for negotiating and managing routine legal work? Contact us today.

Want to learn more about work opportunities for highly experienced, U.K.-qualified lawyers? Click here to view opportunities in our network.

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January 10 2019

Why Corporate Attorneys Exit Big Law

Corporate attorneys in the Big Law world accept long work hours as part of their career paths, but the time requirements of a Big Law career can make it challenging to focus on (and achieve) goals outside of work. In the end, some attorneys have to choose between staying with their corporate legal careers or leaving to pursue other goals or life events.

The simple truth is that the long work days and high billable hour requirements in traditional practice have caused talented attorneys to leave the legal profession. But the rise of flexible work arrangements via alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) means the legal profession no longer has to lose some of its brightest minds—only that some of those legal minds may realistically choose not to work such long hours.

Why do corporate attorneys leave Big Law careers?

Attorneys step away from legal careers at Big Law firms for a variety of reasons. In some cases, the reason may be to pursue an important personal goal. But in other cases, attorneys leave Big Law careers due to life events that may or may not fall within their control:

  • Pursuing a career change – No profession is immune to turnover caused by employees’ desire to pursue a new calling. In the legal field, one survey found that up to one-third of lawyers consider leaving the profession to find their way in a new industry. Simultaneously, "side hustles" have risen in popularity. Some attorneys leave Big Law because succeeding at a side hustle isn’t possible while working so many hours—working at a traditional law firm doesn’t leave much time to explore a new field or line of work on the side. Ultimately, corporate attorneys have to decide if they want to continue their commitment to working long hours on complex matters or if they want to pursue a path that offers more flexibility.
  • Starting a family – Parenthood is a life-changing decision that forces people to juggle multiple priorities. But in Big Law, attorneys must be always on, making it difficult to dial back a work schedule. Transitioning to a part-time legal position doesn’t always feel like a viable alternative for many lawyers preparing to be parents. While some Big Law firms offer part-time policies, one-third of attorneys who work at these organizations have not taken advantage of part-time work opportunities for a variety reasons, including concern about the feasibility of practicing a demanding type of law in a part-time context.
  • Relocating outside of a major city – Big Law jobs are primarily concentrated in major cities. If an attorney starts their career at a Big Law firm in a big city, but then decides to move to a rural or suburban area, they have to leave their firm and forego working with high-caliber clients since these firms aren’t likely to offer remote legal jobs. But there are a variety of life changes that draw professionals to less urban locations. Whether it’s raising a family, moving closer to loved ones, moving for a spouse’s career or just a lifestyle preference, legal professionals value location independence.
  • Caring for themselves or a loved one – An attorney may become ill and need time away from work to recover, or may experience a loved one falling ill and need to take leave to care for them. Either of these scenarios could involve temporary relocation in order to seek treatment or be with an ill family member in another city or state. But coming back to the office from an extended leave and returning to a normal work pace can be challenging. Attorneys have to ramp up their billable hours and advocate to work on upcoming projects. Some attorneys decide to leave rather than go through the process of reintegrating themselves into the life of the firm.

New opportunities for flexible corporate law work

Imagine if there was a way for talented attorneys to practice corporate law with world-class clients and still achieve true flexibility. Attorneys desiring to continue practicing at a high level while also pursuing other passions or needing to practice remotely would enjoy access to the best of both worlds. The good news is that this opportunity already exists.

At InCloudCounsel, we offer corporate attorneys with Big Law experience the opportunity to set their own hours and choose their homebase. As a result, our attorneys have accomplished some pretty spectacular goals on the side, while being engaged and motivated to provide exceptional service and legal work to Fortune 500 clients.

From writing children’s books to working with Cirque du Soleil to starting a family, InCloudCounsel has seen how top-notch corporate lawyers benefit from flexibility. The benefits are also realized by clients, who receive expert-quality work from highly experienced attorneys specializing in the routine legal documents they need negotiated.

Interested in putting your corporate law background to use in a new way while accessing total flexibility in your work schedule? Reach out to learn more.

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December 13 2018

Managing the Hidden Costs of Routine Legal Work

There’s a reason why large companies turn to traditional law firms to help facilitate their most significant business transactions. With so much at stake, the most complex aspects of an agreement need to be managed by highly specialized experts.

But along with these bespoke, highly complicated matters come plenty of high-volume, routine legal documents, such as non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and vendor contracts. Finding the right party to handle this work isn’t as clear as finding the right one for larger matters.

Law firms and internal resources are traditional, but imperfect solutions for effectively handling routine legal work, due to multiple factors such as turnaround time, attorney fees, and lack of expertise. There has to be a better way—and thanks to today’s technology, there is.

Traditional law firms are expensive

In the world of large transactions, traditional law firms are often the go-to solution for companies’ most challenging legal work. They serve as a safe option because they are trustworthy. To maintain client relationships, many of these firms take on routine legal work when they’re asked, even though it’s not their core competency. Thanks to their stellar reputations, no one worries that a firm like Kirkland & Ellis or Cravath will make errors on routine legal documents.

But having a traditional law firm handle routine legal work tends to be inefficient and expensive. While a traditional law firm may negotiate routine legal work for the sake of a client relationship, it's not necessarily delegated to the attorney with the most specialized experience in that document type. Instead, it’s delegated to the attorney who has available bandwidth or an associate supporting the partner who manages that client. The turnaround time isn’t ideal because these resources are continually devoting a significant amount of time to other, higher priority work. Since the work is billed against the standard rate card, it can also incur a significant financial cost to the client.

The cost concern is significant for in-house counsel since 93 percent of legal departments note that controlling outside counsel costs is a key priority, according to Thomson Reuters. Another survey of in-house counsel found that participants spent an average of $4.2 million on legal services and attorney fees each year. The fees that companies accrue in sending routine legal work to traditional law firms run counter to their goal of cost containment.

Internal teams lack bandwidth

Some companies assign internal resources to high-volume legal work in lieu of sending it to a traditional law firm. This could include in-house counsel or even business resources such as deal team members. For both groups, routine legal work can take time and focus away from the core aspects of their jobs. Because handling routine legal work is additive to employees’ roles, it can limit the bandwidth to care for the work, which can pose a risk to the overall speed and efficiency of the process.

Additionally, when internal resources in a business function are tasked with negotiating routine agreements, they do so at a disadvantage because they don’t possess a formal legal education. And since their interests primarily lie in moving the deal forward quickly rather than mitigating risk, companies may find themselves with less-than-ideal negotiation outcomes.

The emerging option: legal tech

Over the past decade, a handful of players have pioneered the legal tech space. These innovators have capitalized on the rise of tech and software to find solutions for addressing multiple pain points in the legal process.

While the corporate law industry is risk-averse by nature when it comes to embracing new technologies (and rightfully so), engaging with the right legal tech solutions is no longer a gamble. The companies that have already adopted legal tech solutions are reaping the benefits and have a leg up on their competitors. Bringing legal tech into the equation often increases process efficiencies, lowers costs, and allows for better quality legal work.

InCloudCounsel is a legal technology company that has created an ideal solution for negotiating and managing routine legal work, combining cloud-based workflow and data management software with a virtual network of the world’s best solo practitioners. The result is a solution that’s uniquely high-quality, efficient, and cost-effective.

The attorneys working in our network possess expertise in specific document types such as NDAs, vendor agreements, and engagement letters. By focusing our solution on the routine legal work niche, we’re delivering high-quality work while helping clients achieve a 70% average cost savings compared to their prior outsourced solution and freeing up thousands of hours of internal resources’ time.

To learn more about our scalable, end-to-end solution for negotiating and managing your company’s routine legal work, contact our team today.

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November 15 2018

The Case for Freelance Corporate Attorneys

In the legal profession, traditional law firms are usually associated with cream-of-the-crop attorneys and a flawless end product for their legal services—and rightfully so. Some of the most talented attorneys commit to a Big Law career and go on to be extremely successful, reaping financial and professional benefits with many even making partner at their firms.

Producing the quality and quantity of work expected by a traditional law firm requires a significant commitment that can force attorneys to sacrifice aspects of their personal lives to allow for more time in the office. But those demands, which often entail an intense workload and stringent hours, aren’t the right fit for those who cannot or do not want to make such sacrifices.

In the past, the accommodation of personal goals outside of work meant that some top-tier corporate law talent would have to pursue alternative outlets to continue practicing corporate law, which would often mean having to work with less sophisticated clients. InCloudCounsel provides freelance corporate attorneys the opportunity to achieve the flexible work arrangement they desire, while still practicing law for some of the world’s leading companies.

On the client side, working with freelance corporate attorneys offers its own benefits. Aided by cloud-based technology, large companies have access to an ever-increasing pool of highly experienced, specialist attorneys that can deliver a cost-effective, high-quality solution for negotiating and managing their routine legal work.

Benefits for attorneys

The legal industry is evolving and making space for a greater breadth of work arrangements. Freelance legal work opportunities provide corporate attorneys with several important benefits.

For one, freelance legal work enables flexible work hours and geographic independence. Instead of working under the constraints established by an employer, freelance attorneys practice law from their own home base and on their own schedule. Because freelance attorneys are not limited to working in major cities for access to the best clients, they can move closer to family or relocate to areas with a lower cost of living.

Freelance legal work also offers the ability to pursue other passions. With a flexible workload and schedule that works best for them, attorneys benefit from the ability to focus on other important aspects of their lives. For these talented professionals, having flexibility with corporate legal work means having enough time to commit to other passions or interests, whether that be spending more time with family, founding a startup, or traveling the world.

Benefits for companies

Large companies that use freelance corporate attorneys are able to address pain points in their existing legal document processes, especially when it comes to routine legal work. Previously, companies would only have two options for handling their routine legal work—outsourcing it to a traditional law firm or handing it to internal resources. Neither option is ideal.

When the work is handled by a traditional law firm it gets completed by junior, generalist attorneys who are less experienced and don’t possess specialist knowledge by document type. This often results in slower turnaround times and potentially less than ideal quality of outputs, on top of being billed against the firm’s standard hourly rate card. When the work is handled by internal resources it takes precious time away from the core aspects of people’s jobs. In some cases, the individuals who are assigned the work may not possess a formal legal education.

Using freelance corporate attorneys as part of a legal technology solution can eliminate these pain points. InCloudCounsel offers an ideal solution for negotiating and managing routine legal work by combining a virtual network of highly experienced, specialist attorneys with best-in-class, cloud-based technology. The result is a uniquely efficient and high-quality solution that helps companies save time, free up internal resources, and substantially reduce legal costs.

Looking ahead

The traditional career path for corporate lawyers has remained unchanged for many years, with few options available to attorneys interested in pursuing opportunities outside of the traditional law firm environment. As the gig economy continues to gain traction in the legal industry, both attorneys and corporations can expect to see more corporate lawyers going the freelance route, giving them the freedom to build the practices they want in order to live the lives they want to lead.

If you’re a highly experienced corporate attorney ready to achieve this freedom for you and your practice then apply to opportunities in our attorney network today.

Interested in learning more about how InCloudCounsel’s scalable, end-to-end solution can help your company save time, free up resources, and significantly reduce legal costs? Request a live demo today.

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October 25 2018

Unleashing the Potential of AI and Human Teams in the Legal Space

We’re hearing a lot of talk in the tech world about how artificial intelligence (AI) will change the way we work. Inevitably, conversations broach the possibility that AI will displace humans in the workplace. Some even estimate that automation and AI will replace as many as 800 million jobs over the next 13 years.

But most of the conversations taking place around AI don’t take into account the potential of AI and humans working together. It’s worth noting because this pairing is already reshaping the way we approach common tasks across the business world, including within the legal industry.

How can humans and AI work together?

For certain tasks, the marriage of people and AI can accomplish more than either humans or machines are able to accomplish separately. Rather than replacing living, breathing workers, embracing both means recognizing that AI and humans complement each other in ways that go far beyond the processes most organizations currently rely on to achieve their goals.

Nearly all industries recognize that artificial intelligence is coming and will be a part of how they do their work. While the extent to which specific industries and even organizations will rely on AI varies, there’s a growing consensus that people will continue to remain an important part of the equation.

To understand humans’ evolving role, we need to remember that AI and humans offer different skill sets to the organization. While it’s possible to apply AI to certain tasks, others are difficult or impossible to apply it to. These tasks require human intervention simply because humans are better at accomplishing them. This is especially true for specialized tasks and processes that fall beyond the parameters of AI technology.

Salesforce recently offered a good example of how the AI-human relationship plays out in the real world. Over the past few decades, the U.S. Postal Service automated 99 percent of its processes. But while that seems like a lot (and it is), 1 percent of postal processes still require humans to accurately sort the mail. With more than 500 million pieces of mail passing through USPS’ doors each day, that means 5 million mailed items a day would be undeliverable without human employees.

Embracing the union of manpower and AI power works in a similar way. While AI dramatically improves the organization’s ability to handle routine tasks, humans continue to play a vital role in achieving key objectives. In many cases, AI improves our ability to achieve those objectives accurately and efficiently.

AI-human teams change the game in legal tech

Legal tech is an ideal candidate for the teaming up of humans and AI. Why? Because a significant percentage of legal work involves routine tasks that still demand the attention of specialized attorneys.

Consider NDAs. Most large companies negotiate these routine legal documents at the onset of a significant transaction. These documents need to be completed quickly and effectively, and an experienced, specialized attorney as well as AI each have an appropriate role in that process. But in a typical scenario, the company turns to internal resources or a Big Law firm for assistance—both of which can be costly in their own right.

For years, standard procedure for abstracting documents has involved humans taking the whole process on themselves—a process which has functioned just fine. But InCloudCounsel’s document abstracting process for routine legal work combines highly experienced, specialist attorneys and AI to deliver an even more efficient process and higher quality end result.

While InCloudCounsel attorneys handle the negotiating of an agreement, they are assisted by AI when abstracting the key terms of an agreement onto an easy to reference summary called a “scorecard.” AI helps verify the accuracy of the key terms by checking them against the provisions in the actual contract, reducing the risk for human error. The attorney saves time by harnessing AI to efficiently deliver a highly accurate product. As a result, clients can count on improved efficiency, accuracy and overall higher quality of output.

AI is already changing legal tech in important ways. But more often than not, we’ll find that the best use of the technology involves the winning combination of AI with the specialized expertise of actual attorneys.

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October 5 2018

Solving the Routine Legal Work Challenge

For large companies, high-volume but necessary recurring legal documents—such as NDAs, vendor contracts and other simple agreements—present a unique issue.

When negotiating multi-billion dollar transactions, completing routine agreements may not be the highest priority for busy in-house legal teams. But while in-house attorneys need to stay focused on more complex tasks, high-volume documents still have to be handled quickly and expertly.

Routine legal work can be outsourced to a traditional law firm. However, doing so often comes with a high price tag and generalist, junior-level attorneys negotiating the agreements. For many years, companies simply didn’t have access to an ideal solution to handle this type of work.

Enter InCloudCounsel in 2014

When Troy Pospisil, Ben Levi, and Lane Lillquist came together to form InCloudCounsel, they wanted to solve this unmet need in the marketplace. Their solution was simple: Offer companies a better way to effectively negotiate and manage their routine legal work by combining a virtual network of highly experienced attorneys with best-in-class cloud-based technology.

This solution would help companies to free up in-house resources and drive down legal costs while yielding higher quality work, all while incorporating technology that would drive process efficiencies, increase organization and transparency, and provide a new level of insight through document and legal data management and analytics.

The founders’ unique backgrounds (in finance, law, and tech, respectively) have allowed them to build a company that redefines how organizations can effectively handle their high-volume legal work. In fact, InCloudCounsel is already working with some of the world’s leading companies. This is how it all came together.

Lessons from the business side

Founder and CEO Troy Pospisil started his career in the consulting field, eventually moving into private equity investing. In both fields, he experienced firsthand the inefficiencies that high-volume legal work could create for a large organization.

While working at a private equity firm, one of Troy's responsibilities was to negotiate NDAs, which took some of his focus away from his primary job responsibilities of evaluating investment opportunities. He also realized that there was no good system in place to track document workflow, which created the potential risk that two different deal teams could be negotiating the same NDA. There was similarly no quick way for Troy to check which NDAs were in place or to easily see previously negotiated terms. So, while he didn’t possess any formal legal education, Troy handled the work but recognized that an experienced legal professional would be far better suited to efficiently negotiate the agreements. However, Troy also understood that his in-house legal team wasn’t structured in a way that would afford them the bandwidth to negotiate and manage thousands of routine contract negotiations per year and that outsourcing the negotiation of NDAs to a traditional law firm was not a cost-effective solution. There was no good way for his firm to do the work, and so it became one of his responsibilities.

Lessons from the Big Law side

Truth be told, Big Law firms aren’t ideally suited for handling simple contracts either. Ben Levi, co-founder and COO at InCloudCounsel, started out as a fresh-faced Harvard Law School graduate in Kirkland & Ellis’ Chicago headquarters, where he immediately encountered high-volume work.

While Big Law firms handle routine work for some of their clients, it doesn’t fall within their core business offerings. They exist to advise companies on significant matters, which is why they tend to place generalist, junior-level attorneys on routine contract negotiations.

Consequently, turnaround time for routine legal work is often less than ideal—a product of less-experienced attorneys handling the work, and the fact that it’s low priority work for such highly utilized Big Law attorneys. In addition to long lead times, clients often experience sticker shock after being invoiced for the work, which is billed at the firm’s standard rates.

As for the attorney side of the equation, during his time in Big Law, Ben also realized that there wasn't a good way for top corporate attorneys to practice high-quality law outside of a Big Law firm. It was this observation that created a passion for finding a new solution for great attorneys who didn't want their lives to revolve around their work.

Carving out a new solution for routine legal work

Troy and Ben joined forces to offer InCloudCounsel’s end-to-end solution for negotiating and managing routine legal work. Shortly after, they teamed up with Lane Lillquist, who joined the company as CTO and became the company’s third co-founder. With his deep software engineering background, Lane helped InCloudCounsel build a proprietary software platform designed to maximize document organization, efficiency, and insight, further bolstering its ability to help large companies save both time and money.

The InCloudCounsel founding team set out to find a way to better deliver a subset of legal services for both clients and attorneys. In so doing, they created a platform that affords its attorneys the flexibility to work part-time from anywhere and the freedom to build a practice that makes sense for the lives that they want to lead. All while helping hundreds of companies around the world streamline their routine legal processes, saving them valuable time and money. With this two-fold challenge that the legal industry and its clients have experienced for years finally addressed with an ideal solution, both sides are free to tackle routine legal work more efficiently than ever before.

Click here to learn more about our scalable, end-to-end solution for negotiating and managing your company’s routine legal work.

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