Business never stands still. Cross-border organisations must evolve in response to an ever-shifting world of geopolitical risk and opportunity together with the rapid changes being brought about by technology, data and digitisation. To do this, they look to their senior leaders to ensure this complex landscape is navigated effectively and adroitly. A successful GC today must be a central part of that team, a business leader firmly seated at the strategic table who is able to drive the delivery of strategic outcomes and help unlock commercial innovation across the business – in addition to protecting a company from regulatory and legal risks.
Against this backdrop, it is no longer realistic to rely on traditional legal support models alone. The GC needs to call on a host of broader resources. They must embrace innovation to remain informed and agile, to drive sound decision-making, manage cost and enable growth across the business.
Technology and data
Technology is a critical element of the new approach.
The availability and volume of data has exploded in recent years. LSEG itself has seen demand for data rise by around 40% every year since 2019. That jump has been fuelled by increasing digitisation; technologies like AI and machine learning creating new applications for data; firms needing data to navigate regulation and reputation issues like climate and supply chain risk; and the emergence of new and expanding asset classes like infrastructure
This is no surprise. Data has the power to help us foresee potential future risks and opportunities while learning from the past. The ability to quickly adapt data capture and change the focus of how this data is used can bring about the type of agility needed by the GC to stay on top of trends.
At its most basic, data can tell us how many times a certain contractual clause has been amended, therefore if we simplify or abandon it, we can improve the time to contract close. A more complex application might gather data on legal and regulatory requirements that must be met if a business wants to expand to a specific geography. Data like this can speed up and simplify complex decisions and create more confidence in our strategies.
Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs)
Partnerships with our providers open up a whole new area of opportunity. Here’s where ALSPs come in. A good ALSP will manage your low complex, high volume work; a great ALSP will innovate alongside your teams and become part of your core toolkit.
They can take on huge amounts of work with teams whose single focus is to turnaround tasks. They can provide amazing insights into trends in industry and lend their innovation skills to help you build even greater solutions to your problems.
The LSEG experience
At LSEG we’ve built tailored technology solutions working in partnership with our ASLPs to drive true transformation of the legal function and its contribution to the strategic direction of the business.
The result? Contract turnaround times previously measured in weeks are now measured in days, large volume spikes in sales activity are being handled without impacting legal service levels, and standardised contract templates and negotiation playbooks have reduced risk by ensuring greater consistency. What does that mean in business terms? Revenue is earned sooner, customer relationships are smoother and resources are freed up to enable further business generation. What’s not to love?
We’ve also used technology to transform our legal and compliance case management platform. A single point of entry for queries gives us the ability to triage, allocate and prioritise matters more efficiently. Automatic responses to common queries have allowed us to remove many simple tasks, providing the business with the information it needs faster and extricates resources to focus on other more complex tasks. The data it delivers allows us to continuously streamline processes by addressing bottlenecks, taking a more strategic approach to the management of legal and regulatory risk, and creating further automation.
To stay competitive, lawyers have made great strides in improving their digital understanding. Our team is no exception. For example, the rise of digital assets is a development we are monitoring closely. We recognise that trading digital assets is a long-term trend and that legal and compliance teams are central to the development and design of these products, while continuing to consider and manage the broader operational risks of delivery. It remains to be seen how IP law evolves to meet the challenges presented by NFTs and the Metaverse, but the law will evolve. It always does.
Legal teams are not there just to explain how the law applies and to pick up the pieces when things go wrong. They must participate in and help to drive the development of strategic initiatives and the delivery of operational efficiencies. To provide maximum value in today’s environment, general counsel must harness technology and data, and lean into new trends such as digitisation to meet the needs of their business and customers. The journey is just beginning – GCs must grasp this significant and exciting opportunity to transform the way we think about their role and that of their team for the future.