Dolphin Software recently took part in the inaugural European Corporate Counsel Exchange conference in the Hague, Netherlands, which was attended by the heads of legal of many of Europe’s leading corporations.
A consistent theme of the event was of course the impact of the economy on the legal operations of companies in Europe, but also how this has forced legal departments to become much more efficient and business focused than ever before.
Aligning strategy and execution with the core business strategy is something that CIOs and IT Departments have heard for the last ten years, but it was surprising to hear the number of General Counsels urging the same message and to become ‘more visible’ in the business.
Topics like Litigation support, eDiscovery, Legal Spend Management and Contract Management appear to be the primary interest and focus areas for European GC’s in the next 12 months.
With regards to Contract Management, it was surprising to witness so much support for ‘self-service contracting’, where the drafting of standard contracts and agreements is pushed out to business users through the use of contract automation technologies, where previously many internal legal departments would have insisted that all contracting is conducted within their own department.
With legal departments having to downsize, or cut their budgets, they are looking for new ways in which to deliver the same workload with fewer resources, and at the same time, demonstrate increased value to the business. Contract Management solutions are well placed to deliver on these goals since they generally automate and control the contracting process, which up to this point in many companies, has remained a manual and inefficient process, while delivering true cost savings to the business by allowing contracts to be managed in the way that they were negotiated.
The bad news however, is that although economists and the media seem to be convincing us that the worst of the recession is over, the general expectation is that budgets for 2010 will continue to be cut, which will compel General Counsels to spend their money more wisely on products and services that add true value to their business, reduce inefficiencies and that will raise the profile of legal operations within the enterprise.