It’s the European Parliamentary Elections today across the EU and HighQ’s key message in relation to its new corporate legal platform is: take back control.
But, as Rob MacAdam, Director of Legal Solutions, recently explained to Artificial Lawyer, this slogan is not about the now infamous Brexit battle cry, but rather a call to action for General Counsel (GC) and in-house lawyers to take back control of the many streams of data running through their legal function.
MacAdam explained that the thinking behind their newly released corporate legal platform, which helps GCs with things such as: matter management, intake, contract management, and vendor management, is a response to the growth of operational demands inside the legal function.
At present too many legal teams are either stuck with a hotchpotch of point tools and data silos that don’t encourage much engagement around managing legal data, or instead GCs look to external law firms to help them.
But, as the rise and rise of ‘legal ops’ continues, i.e. treating a legal function as a true business unit, there needs to be the tools available that are designed with GCs in mind. Cue: HighQ, which is taking a more platform-based approach.
As MacAdam explains: ‘In the corporate world, legal teams are doing more work inhouse. Things are changing, both in how the inhouse team interacts with the business and with outside counsel.’
But, he adds, law firms tend to lead when it comes to tech. GCs can be left a bit flat-footed without a good handle on their docs and data. HighQ’s foray into the inhouse world, which in effect is providing a specially customised version of their data management and collaboration platform, is meant to address this.
MacAdam sums it up: ‘GCs want to take back control.’ And, he adds, HighQ wants to help them to do this and realise the power at their fingertips by gaining a broad data oversight over all the activity in their team.
He also notes that although there are a growing number of huge legal teams out there, many are quite small still and you can find two-person inhouse teams having to handle a mass of documents, contracts and external advisers – but without much in the way of digital infrastructure to help them keep on top of it.
In short, MacAdam concludes, what they are offering GCs ‘is a legal hub that solves multiple problems’.
As noted above, some of the things its does include:
Contract Management – digitally streamline the creation and management of your agreements. Draft, negotiate, execute and track all contracts in a transparent, central location – and now with its AIHub, more easily link doc review by AI tools into a seamless system.
Vendor Management – providing a platform that streamlines how you work with your external counsel, enabling you to standardise and evaluate the way legal services are delivered.
There’s more, but you get the picture. It’s the HighQ platform, sucking up data, presenting clients with dashboards, transparency of work flows, and a means to securely share documents – but all customised for an inhouse team, rather than its traditional marketplace of law firms.
Of course, providing in-house legal teams with this overview is just a beginning. GCs have to want to use it, and have the time to get value from it. Data is is just squiggles on a screen if it’s not closely considered and then acted upon. But, that’s another story….
More broadly, the move by HighQ reflects a growing trend in the legal tech market to go after the inhouse legal teams.
There’s a few reasons for this:
- The legal ops drive is turning inhouse teams onto the idea that they should be able to have far greater insight into their own business function – and tapping tech tools is a good way to get started, from billing applications to AI review/KM tools.
- Many law firms have now taken up the latest wave of legal technology and the inhouse world is the obvious next market to break into.
- There are many more large corporates in the world than law firms, and their scale is on a totally different level. That means there is a huge potential market out there, even if the legal teams remain smaller than most major law firms.
- And perhaps finally, GCs don’t live in a bubble, they go to legal tech conferences and read the legal tech press as well. They can see what’s happening and they want to be part of this market change as well.
HighQ’s move is no doubt not the last one we will see by a legal tech company in terms of building/re-purposing tools for inhouse use. And as the desire to ‘take back control’ builds among GCs, perhaps we will see an acceleration in this trend.
P.S. Don’t forget to vote if you’re an EU citizen!