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Transforming Legal Practices: Embracing Innovation in a Changing Landscape

Summary

Legal innovation is becoming increasingly vital as legal departments face an array of challenges stemming from global tensions, stricter regulations, and rapid technological advancements. In-house legal teams are now seeking innovative strategies to effectively manage complex legal work. One notable […]

Transforming Legal Practices: Embracing Innovation in a Changing Landscape

Legal innovation is becoming increasingly vital as legal departments face an array of challenges stemming from global tensions, stricter regulations, and rapid technological advancements. In-house legal teams are now seeking innovative strategies to effectively manage complex legal work. One notable example is General Motors (GM), which has recently committed to selling only electric vehicles by 2035. This decision has presented GM’s legal department with various legal obstacles, including securing partnerships for vehicle-charging infrastructure and sourcing materials for car batteries. Craig Glidden, General Counsel at GM, emphasizes the critical role of legal expertise in navigating these challenges successfully.

However, the demands placed on legal departments extend beyond economic factors. Damon Hart, Chief Legal Officer at Liberty Mutual, highlights that legal departments can no longer operate without scrutiny within their organizations. Nowadays, companies expect legal departments to follow the same metrics and key performance indicators as other departments. To address this pressure, legal operations roles are becoming increasingly important. These roles concentrate on data analysis and other specialized areas to assist legal departments in improving their processes and readily adopting pertinent technologies.

To adapt to this changing landscape, legal teams are implementing a variety of innovative strategies. Liberty Mutual’s legal operations team, for instance, has launched a program that pairs staff with lawyers to bolster processes and implement new technologies. The objective is to empower lawyers with the necessary skills and tools to independently tackle operational challenges. At Uber, Chief Legal Officer Tony West has chosen to retain highly skilled lawyers and facilitate their professional development, effectively bringing more substantive legal work in-house. Additionally, the rise of generative artificial intelligence poses opportunities to enhance legal processes and lessen the burden on staff. In-house lawyers play a crucial role in ensuring the responsible application of AI and analyzing its potential benefits for their departments.

As legal departments continue to innovate, their relationship with law firms is expected to undergo significant transformations. Many experts predict that AI will not only reshape the operational dynamics of legal departments but also revolutionize how they interact with external counsel. While the COVID-19 pandemic did not disrupt law firms’ business models significantly, the potential impact of AI cannot be overlooked.

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