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Report: In-house counsel are delivering specialized work with unspecialized tools

BRYTER logoBRYTER, the no-code automation platform, and legal industry research publication, The Lawyer, have today published the results of a global survey of in-house counsel about how they spend their time, their access to technology, and operational excellence in their organizations.

The findings show two common themes: in-house counsel are delivering specialized work with unspecialized tools, and service delivery is a bottleneck holding in-house counsel back from being strategic partners to the business. 

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Though in-house counsel deliver specialized services to their organizations, 97% of the 100+ survey respondents from global in-house legal teams said they rely on Microsoft Office to achieve legal and business technology requirements — perhaps because more bespoke tools are unavailable. The Report found that 75% of respondents rarely or never work with IT to develop projects to meet their legal and regulatory needs. Of those who say they have access to IT, 41% find it difficult to obtain in practice. 

But there is interest in technology and going digital: 83% of respondents actively keep up to date with new technologies, showing a desire within the in-house community to stay informed about and make better use of tech tools. 

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The second theme from the survey reflected a key paradox for the in-house legal community: though their role is evolving to be even more strategic and value-driven, they still spend much of their day on time-consuming, repetitive tasks that become bottlenecks: the survey revealed that only 19% of in-house counsel spend most of their time on strategic tasks. Most of the repetitive or standardizable work requested of the legal team comes from sales and commercial licensing (33%), procurement (27%) and the C-suite (8%).

These services tasks are time-consuming, but also ripe for scaling with tech: The tasks that in-house counsel say take up too much time include frequent, similar document requests like NDAs and MSAs (47% agree) and legal/compliance questions regarding topics like gifts & hospitality (36% agree). 63% of respondents see the provision of self-service applications to the business as an opportunity for saving time and money.

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Thomas Procter, Head of Research at The Lawyer, says, “The findings are striking: the in-house counsel we interviewed are generally interested in driving towards efficiency, but they are hampered in this goal by delivering their services manually.” 

Michael Grupp, CEO of BRYTER, adds, “The results show how much more support in-house counsel need in terms of tooling. You wouldn’t expect an architect to work without specialist programs, but in-house counsel are still getting by with generalist tools, and spending their time on standardizable servicing tasks instead of on expert review. Their ready interest in technology shows that there's an opportunity to digitally transform the business of law.”

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Michael Grupp and Thomas Procter presented on the preliminary findings of this report at the Bucerius Autumn Conference in Hamburg in November last year, as part of a virtual workshop with General Counsel and Managing Partners, and discussed the legal digital maturity benchmark that has been developed from it.

 

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