ACC survey finds importance of legaltech for general counsel

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Most in-house counsel say legal technology is a “must have”, an ACC survey, entitled the 2023 Legal Technology Report for In-house Professionals, found.

The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), in partnership with legal software maker Exterro, released the report, which highlights technology adoption, the sophistication of legal processes and the top challenges faced by in-house legal departments.

Based on a survey of 252 in-house counsel and legal operations professionals from 22 countries, 78% of respondents reported that legal technology is now a must-have for legal departments, a 15% increase compared to the previous survey in 2021. Some 38% of respondents planned to purchase or upgrade legal software in the next year.

Additionally, 41% of in-house teams wanted to use technology more effectively in privacy and compliance matters, and 30% focused on litigation. Understandably, departments with more sophisticated legal processes invest more in legal technology, with 39% of legal departments in the survey planned on buying or upgrading legal software in the coming year, although this likelihood varies dramatically.

“Legal technology adoption continues a dramatic rise across the board, and this report provides important details of where it’s been and where it’s going from various perspectives,” said Blake Garcia, the ACC’s senior director of business intelligence in Washington.

“Despite clear benefits, there remains a great deal of variation regarding company size and organisational buy-in of how much is being invested in legal technology.”

The report also shows that more companies show greater structure in their legal processes, which can range from unsophisticated and ad hoc with no management or budget (level one) to highly sophisticated and optimised with significant budget, resources, and buy-in (level five).

Compared to the previous survey, more companies are now at a level three or four, having more structured and well-defined legal processes with dedicated support, budget and sponsorship.

Bobby Balachandran, the founder and CEO of Exterro in Portland, added that macro trends, including the constant introduction of new laws and regulations, increased scrutiny on protecting personally sensitive data, the constant threat of cyber intrusions or attacks, and unrelenting pressure to do more with less have put tremendous pressure on internal legal departments, which requires a thoughtful approach to optimising people, processes and technology.

The lack of interconnectivity across various softwares is the top pain point, as expressed by 62% of respondents. However, 43% of respondents believed that a comprehensive software platform could potentially solve the difficulties caused by using different technology solutions.

Contract management is the most used legal technology and most effective, according to 65% of companies in the survey, up 14% from the 2021 result, making it the most used technology, ahead of legal research tools.

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