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Supporting in-house legal teams on their digital transformation journey

1 June 2021

Rogier Bronk

Head of Global Entity Solutions for the Americas

Rogier Bronk

Head of Global Entity Solutions for the Americas

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Corporate legal teams can face several obstacles when it comes to digital transformation. But setting goals and finding the right partners can kickstart the process, bringing real savings.

Digital transformation has been around for decades, but it has only recently become a top priority for senior executives. The Covid-19 pandemic, which forced many businesses and organisations to streamline or close, accelerated awareness by as much as seven years, according to a recent study by McKinsey & Company.

Expedited or not, digital transformations – even those happening within one company – can progress at different speeds. Large multinationals often find certain areas of the business falling behind; in many cases, one such area is the in-house legal department.

What are the challenges for in-house legal teams?

Legal departments understand the importance of digital transformation. However, it isn’t just about acquiring the right technology or using accumulated data to gain business insights. The real challenge for General Counsels and their teams is to reimagine their roles, as well as their ‘added value’ to the organisation they serve. They must decide how to connect technology and accumulated data wherever and whenever it’s needed, to fully optimise their department.

Besides this, of course, there are several other challenges that legal departments face to drive the change they need. They must often obtain buy-in from other stakeholders, since so much of their work is interconnected with other departments – contract management is one such example. The constant shifts in the regulatory landscape also present new risks that require immediate action from legal teams. All the while, they face increased pressure to do more work – or indeed the same amount of work with fewer resources.

Kickstarting the digital transformation journey

In all cases, legal teams need to identify the short- and mid-term achievable goals that could create a solid foundation for long-term digital transformation. This means looking at both the internal and external business processes they are involved with.

Entity management – usually the responsibility of the corporate secretarial team – is usually a logical start. Many legal teams choose to invest in an Entity Management System, often seen as the ‘single source of truth’, which provides visibility over the whole global entity portfolio. Of course, this technology often comes at a significant cost – and is only as good as it is maintained – and as such, it should be viewed as just one step in the overall transformation process.

In other words, managing a large global portfolio of entities in an ever-changing and complex landscape requires a more holistic approach: one that harmonises technology with data and ensures all entities remain in good stead. As legal teams tackle increased workloads and time constraints, they come to rely more and more on the data they receive from their local providers – often in the form of newsletters or email bulletins. Because these tend to be very generic in nature and far from entity specific, it’s easy for regulatory changes to slip through the cracks – which, if missed, results in non-compliance and fines.

Finding the right transformation partner

Partnering with a system-agnostic service provider, such as Intertrust Group, means all this can be done for you. Our Global Entity Solutions team can help you to construct a bespoke system that fits seamlessly with your existing tools. Such a system can: handle entity management without the need for constant monitoring; keep you up to date on any changes in local regulations; deliver global portfolio-specific reports; and ultimately provide full visibility and control over the entities that legal teams are responsible for.

This approach delivers valuable time and cost efficiencies, freeing in-house legal teams to focus on strategic matters and deal with more complex tasks – ones requiring human, rather than machine, expertise.

As General Counsels and their legal teams strive to become strategic partners within their organisations, these kinds of operational efficiencies will be vital.

Facing the future

The future holds even more automation, on an even greater scale. In five years, the best in-house legal departments will be making better, data-driven decisions. Corporate secretarial teams will be leaner and more effective. And legal departments will be providing businesses with a demonstrable competitive advantage.

I believe artificial intelligence still holds untapped opportunities; in the coming years, this technology could be used to enhance decision-making processes, streamline corporate governance, and even forecast outcomes of corporate lawsuits. The possibilities are endless.

But you can’t get there overnight. People often resist digital transformation because it seems like a dauntingly large task. The answer? Make sure you have your overall goal in mind – but approach it step-by-step, making small changes first.

Why Intertrust Group?

We help our clients to grow and implement solutions that streamline their operations efficiently and responsibly. Focusing on compliance, business ethics and transparency, we take care of our clients’ legal, administrative and regulatory duties in international business.

  • Expertise within the corporate legal sector
  • Global experience and delivery capabilities
  • A robust framework supported by proprietary technology
  • System-agnostic and able to integrate with your systems
  • Providing global entity portfolio-specific reports