“The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create It.”

Abraham Lincoln (or maybe Peter Drucker?)

Another week, another study of legal departments – this time the Accenture 2019 Legal Risk Study

Titled: “Future Law . . . Balancing More with Less,” the study – just like the Deloitte study we covered in our last blog post – focuses on the pressures put upon General Counsel to do more with less.  While the Deloitte study was the result of a survey of 122,000 people, the Accenture study is smaller in scale, but far more focused, with just 50 GCs surveyed.

Unfortunately, today it appears that in-house attorneys are doing a lot of work that they don’t have to. 

The Accenture study finds that “50% of organizations’ in-house attorneys spend up to 20% of their time on tasks that do not require an attorney.”  The study recommends that

“Non-core legal work and administrative tasks should be pushed to managed legal services providers, enterprise shared services or automated technology solutions such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning to reduce reliance on external counsel, cut expenses and shorten throughput time.”

All of these are fine solutions, though of course, some of them will cost more than others.  A company could push 20% of it’s current attorney workload to one of the many new “Alternative Legal Service Providers” (often called by the acronym “ALSP”). 

Indeed, much has been written in the last few years about the growth of ALSPs, though there are some experts in the legal tech space who have criticized this as overhyped

Other experts have posited that there is nothing new or even “alternative” about ALSPs, and that the Big4 (including of course Deloitte, the sponsor of the study we covered last time) are already alternatives to law firms in many ways. 

No matter whom is correct, the simple truth is that outsourcing a fifth of a legal department’s work is going to be expensive.

Both in terms of external costs (even if those costs are much cheaper at an ALSP) and the impact upon internal processes.  You simply cannot send that much work outside your department without creating all kinds of disruption – and not the “cool” Silicon Valley kind of “disruption” either.

“It’s Difficult to Make Predictions, Especially About the Future”

Yogi Berra . . .we think . . . or maybe Neils Bohr, Mark Twain, or Nostradamus (really)

As the Accenture study goes on to state: “Administrative tasks, such as reviewing outside counsel billing, certain contract negotiations, and document reviews could be handled outside Legal with the right templates and control frameworks.” 

We can’t claim to be experts in legal spend management or document reviews, but we do know a thing or two about helping lawyers create – and most importantly automate the necessary documents in contract negotiations. In fact, we’d agree whole-heartedly with the results of Accenture’s study when they report that:

“84% of respondents believe legal technology solutions are becoming increasingly important for handling day-to-day activities.”


“62% of respondents say the greatest challenge in adopting technology is finding the right legal technology solution to fit the organization.”

In our work with lawyers, in law firms, corporations, and government organizations, we’ve found that they have all been not just willing but highly motivated to use technology – the right technology to make their work and lives better. 

This is why the answer the question posed in our webinar last year “The Great Debate: Are Lawyers Luddites or is Technology to Blame?” was <SPOILER ALERT> lawyers are not Luddites, they just need better technology to adopt.

Unfortunately, we have to part company with Accenture on some of its recommendations.  While a $43 billion dollar global professional services company with nearly a half-million employees probably has a very good business reason to push for massive, integrated systems while pushing back against “maintaining multiple systems,” we at Woodpecker (a company of vastly smaller scale) have found that even the most non-Luddite lawyers prefer to start small and stick with what they know. 

That’s why we provide our customers with a way to work within Word to solve their immediate needs, versus having to purchase, integrate, and learn some gigantic new solution – with disruptive, gigantic new changes. 

We can put to use the “automated technology solutions such as Artificial Intelligence” for lawyers by giving them a head start on creating new document templates to help cut way down on the 20% of work they don’t have to do themselves.

“Do something today that your future self will thank you for.”

Sean Patrick Flanery

We’ve helped all kinds of non-Luddite lawyers (and maybe even a few with a touch of Luddite in them), whether in-house counsel, in law firms or on their own, make their professional and personal lives better by cutting down on the work they don’t need actually to do.

If you are looking for ways to cut back on the work you know needs to be done by somebody – or something – else (and we suspect that that’s far more than 20%), then it’s time to give document automation a try. Create your better future.

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