The Art of Delegation: Training Business Units to Handle Legal Tasks

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If you suggest to a lawyer that you let another unit handle their job, their likely response will be a scoff, chuckle, and shake of their head.

Considering the number of years they’ve spent mastering their craft, such a response is logical. In their minds, they’re probably thinking, “How can anyone complete legal work without a proper legal education?”

However, the ability to delegate work is critical for optimizing processes. Lawyers will be able to spend less time on low-value tasks. Their renewed focus on high-level work will help their company grow while preventing their colleagues from joining the 65% of employees who regularly bypass legal to get their job done faster. 

The ability to delegate work is critical for optimizing processes.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with reducing legal’s involvement. But first, non-legal teams will need to be taught how to handle legal work.

Enterprise Operations

Today’s business environment no longer permits all legal work to fall on legal’s plate. At the same time, business units probably won’t be keen on assuming certain legal duties. Still, when it comes to contracting, how fast your work gets done depends on how fast contracts are processed.

Whether you hire new people, procure goods and services, conduct sales, or prepare your company for partnerships, contracts ensure things move further. If you rely on legal only, it may take weeks to get a contract signed. Their plate is already overloaded, which means if your request isn’t a high priority, it can get lost in the shuffle. This forces business managers to make a choice: wait or do it themselves.

To increase the speed of workflows, many managers attempt to handle legal work on their own. Since business departments already take on some legal work, it’s a prudent move to teach such units how to do it right. 

All company operations are based on contracts. Involving everyone in contract management transforms contracting into an enterprise-level task. Business departments capable of processing routine contracts can speed up workflows and boost the company’s efficiency. 

Still, speed is not the only benefit your organization can get.

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Optimized processes and increased revenue

Onit’s ELR report reveals that 61% of lawyers’ colleagues consider Legal to be a roadblock. This is because operations typically depend on lawyers. 

However, this approach is inconvenient for all parties. Business managers have to request contracts and wait for a lawyer’s response, while lawyers must deal with simple yet time-consuming tasks. Ultimately, this causes delays and poor customer experiences.

The optimal solution is to provide your commercial departments with pre-approved templates and teach them how to self-service contracts. This eliminates unnecessary legal involvement, allowing lawyers to focus on other matters. In the meantime, sales, procurement, and other teams can fulfill their day-to-day responsibilities without waiting around. 

Optimizing processes in this way helps get the job done faster while growing customer satisfaction and revenue opportunities.

Focus on strategic work

Although we’re accustomed to thinking that Legal’s main functions are the processing of documents and the protection of the organization, they also take part in implementing technology, analyzing data, and more. Nowadays, executives even expect them to play a bigger role in strategic decision-making.

For Legal to fulfill these expectations, they must be flexible and ready to adapt to changing circumstances. Consequently, Legal can’t keep using the same old approaches, which are considered inflexible by 49% of non-legal colleagues. To be an effective strategic partner, Legal must optimize processes, learn new approaches, and foster a continuous innovation mindset to stay ahead.

Having other units handle low-value legal work frees up time that lawyers can devote to higher-value responsibilities like strategic partnerships, analytics, budgeting, and resource allocation planning.

Risk mitigation

Not delegating and letting a task go forgotten (or worse, letting units perform legal work unsupervised) is riskier than training another unit to do them. Here are a few of the risks that can occur:

  • Non-compliance: Commercial units who try to do their job quickly often bypass legal. As a result, they may sign a contract that lacks important clauses. This may lead to inadvertent breaches due to insufficient security and data privacy, as well as reputational and financial losses.
  • Broken obligations: Especially if they’re overloaded and unsupported by technology, lawyers may not be able to monitor all key dates for contracts. This is even more likely the case if data is segmented and disorganized, and contract parties aren’t easily identifiable. If a company’s reputation suffers from poor obligations tracking, this could result in poor relationships with partners and missed price opportunities. Training business managers to track contractual responsibilities and providing them with the right tools to do it dramatically mitigates the risk of broken obligations.
  • Financial losses: If contract preparation takes too long, it may cost you clients, while missing key dates deprives you of the possibility of renegotiating prices, locking you into the same terms for another year.

When it’s done right, eliminating legal involvement can decrease these risks while creating lucrative windows of opportunity.

Cost efficiency

Contracting is a costly activity. In addition to the financial risks previously mentioned, other expenses include lawyers’ hourly rates, fees of other third parties, and the cost of external advice. The longer the process, the higher the price. And as the number of contracts grows, sooner or later, you’ll need more people if you don’t optimize your approach.

Delegation allows your Legal department to concentrate its efforts and budget on more fruitful activities. 

60% of employees say they have a good relationship with their colleagues from legal. Yet, 3 out of 4 don’t see legal as a good business partner. Rather, they believe Legal adds too much red tape and too many unnecessary obstacles. In defense of Legal, excessive routine requests distract them from other work, which can result in them staying overtime.

Training other teams to work on simple legal tasks helps teams better understand each other’s workflows while building a sense of community and a collaborative culture.

Open communication and streamlined processes will eliminate unpleasant side effects like staying late at work and slowing down one another. It allows everybody to focus on their main responsibilities and increases the chances of finishing the job on time.

Action Plan

Stronger relationships with employees from other departments help business units realize the value that Legal brings and how they work. But to master legal tasks, they need something more.

Here are some of the steps you can take to train your non-legal colleagues on how to deal with legal matters. 

Develop understandable workflows

Workflows help us organize and visualize our work, which allows us to gain control and insights into how we get work done. They also ensure accountability, helping us improve process efficiency and deliver consistent outcomes. To develop workflows, you’ll need to accomplish certain steps:

  • Define the outcome: Clearly set criteria that will achieve the desired result. It may be the speed of contract approval, client onboarding, sales cycles, or other elements that depend on contracting.
  • Identify necessary resources: Include people who are involved in the contract lifecycle, tasks that need to be done to reach your goal, documents, systems that contain information, and legal tech that can help you do your job.
  • List tasks that can be delegated: Some tasks, such as preparing standard NDAs, don’t need legal involvement, while more complex tasks can be broken into smaller parts done by various teams (i.e., a contract can be drafted by a business manager, but lawyers are the ones who will negotiate).
  • Organize the sequence: Once you know what you want to accomplish, identify what sets the workflow into motion and what actions will help you reach your goal. This includes who can request a contract, how it’s created, what’s the approval flow, how participants are notified when any actions are needed from them, how a document is signed, etc.  You can create a diagram to visualize the process.
  • Automate repetitive work: Recurring work is usually low-risk, and the best solution is to automate it so that it’s off the lawyer’s plate. This may include drafting simple contracts like DPAs.
  • Identify risks: Define existing and potential risks, possible consequences, and ways to mitigate them.

Communicate workflows and establish expectations, but keep in mind that they should be clear for those you’re going to train. Everyone involved in the contract management process should understand who is the owner of each process, why they are getting legal tasks to do, as well as how it helps the business and how it can benefit from changes. 

If they don’t understand something in the flow, whether it’s processes, risks, or software, they may not follow instructions or have to seek help from lawyers with the same questions again and again.

Build a culture of trust

Establishing effective communication is crucial as it makes it easier to communicate and learn. To improve it, follow these tips:

  • Use corporate chat software: This simplifies communication as it allows you to reach a lawyer right at the moment you have a question and get a prompt reply. This may be when you need some urgent help with a contract.
  • Centralize your files and data: When people know where they can get specific information, templates, and documents, they won’t distract people who might be too busy to respond.
  • Create contracting playbooks: Sometimes, even if the processes aren’t difficult, but there are many of them, you can forget something. Using playbooks, you can follow the steps to draft a contract, know how to assign a specific person to review a contract or its part, who to contact when you have questions, and how to remind responsible people when their approval or other actions are needed. 
  • Establish a feedback loop: Inspire your colleagues to ask for and provide feedback. This will help you determine if everything works as it should, what else can be improved, which processes aren’t understandable enough, etc.

Good communication will make the learning process easier. It won’t do any good if learning is a mess. Nobody will be willing to change their workflow and learn to do new tasks when they can’t easily get answers or feedback.

Use the right tech

Technology can simplify learning as legal tech is designed for streamlining processes. The right platform with a user-friendly interface will help your employees quickly master legal tasks.

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Contracting is at the top of the list of tasks you can delegate. An all-in-one contract lifecycle management system is ideal for drafting simple contracting, tracking obligations, and requesting approval or legal review. It keeps all processes under one roof, so business managers don’t have to learn different systems for each task.

Here’s how different CLM system features can simplify the learning process. 

  • Keep information in one place: Centralized storage empowers organizations with easy access to templates. It also provides a single source of truth and ensures that needed information isn’t scattered across different platforms. With a centralized repository, everything your managers need is right at their fingertips.
  • Don’t change the workflow completely: If the solution is able to replicate and adjust to your established business workflows, it won’t take much time to get used to it.
  • Eliminate lawyer’s involvement: It will help your business units learn to create simple contracts in no time. In just a few clicks, they can have an NDA or DPA ready, with no mistakes, and 100% compliant.
  • Enable Q&A contract creation: Conditional drafting logic eliminates the necessity of long learning of legal nuances. Users will only need to answer simple questions, and specific clauses will be inserted automatically depending on their answers.
  • Standardize language: Standardized language ensures that contracts are uniform to avoid any possible misunderstandings. Thus, business units don’t have to worry that they don’t know how to convey certain things on contracts. Everything’s pre-approved and ready to use.
  • Automate approval flows: By automating the approving flow and predefining conditions, documents are automatically sent to approvers. If a manager forgets who they should approach for approval, that’s not a problem – the system remembers.
  • Keep users informed: ​​If a manager is going to track obligations, reminders are a must. As well as if they need to notify responsible persons about the need to approve or sign a contract. With one-click reminders, it’s easy to do.
  • Simplify legalese: For non-lawyers, legal language can be hard to understand. CLM with GPT-3 can explain specific clauses in simpler, more readable language.
  • Unite all important systems: Integrations with the software your team uses on a daily basis, like public registers, billing software, CRMs, and others, make it more convenient to manage documents in one system than to switch from one to another.
  • Avoid forgetting important tasks: ​​A CLM To-Do panel will enable your teams to create a kind of checklist so that they don’t have to try to keep all contract-related tasks in mind.
  • Create straightforward workflows: Simple, user-friendly processes will save your team time. They’re easier to learn and remember, so business managers won’t be forced to seek a lawyer’s help every time something is unclear.

While choosing the software, also pay attention to its interface. It should be intuitive, then the learning curve will be soft, and you won’t have to spend a lot of time training your colleagues. Without it, your business managers may often need help in using it.

With the right solution that fits your business needs, it won’t be a problem to teach your commercial units to do legal tasks. In addition, it will help them quickly feel the real benefits of this task delegation. 

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Wrapping Up

All employees have a certain role to fulfill at their organization. If you decide to train them to do another department’s job, they may feel reluctant about it. By following the advice in this article, you’ll easily overcome this challenge, and your employees will be eager to get new responsibilities. 

Try our software demo to see how AXDRAFT simplifies routine legal work for anyone. In approximately 57 seconds, anyone can create a compliant NDA.

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