Article

Should You Invest More in Your {Tech IQ}?

12 Jun 2019

When it comes to Tech IQ, not all General Counsel are created equal. But no matter your industry or personal career path, you will have to confront technology’s impact. There are two dimensions to this challenge: how technology is shaping your company’s future and how it is shaping the way legal services will be provided.

In our new global research study, “GC {RE}DEFINED: In the Face of Complexity and Change, the Time to Lead Is Now,” we found evidence that many GCs are taking action:

  • Sixty percent of survey respondents said they were actively collaborating with IT colleagues to improve the legal function.
  • What’s more, over 30 percent of GCs say they have already replaced or anticipate replacing full-time headcount in the next five years with a technology solution.

A GC who can integrate the law, people, processes, and technology will only become more crucial. How else can you increase your Tech IQ and show leadership?

Own Your Tech Budget

GCs are increasingly expected to become sophisticated consumers of “Legal Tech.” The market for different technology solutions is highly fragmented, and it’s not yet clear who will prevail, but GCs will need to learn how to make investment decisions to buy technology. Broadly speaking, this is a new role for many GCs.

“GCs and lawyers in general—they’re in the business of risk mitigation, and buying software has often been outside their purview,” says Nicholas d’Adhemar, CEO of Apperio, a business intelligence platform that provides in-house legal teams real-time data analytics on external legal spend. “Traditionally that’s the IT department’s function.”

It is not yet clear whether the increasing interest in technology will be driven by the emergent Legal Tech creators or the GC community. “Ideally, GCs should have budget control over personnel, external legal advisors, and technology,” remarks d’Adhemar.

Understand Tech’s Impact on Your Company’s Future

When it comes to understanding technology’s impact on your company and its industry, education and curiosity are critical. Consider the case of GlaxoSmithKline plc’s Consumer Healthcare division. A couple years ago, the leadership for the legal team recognized the growing importance of digital technology products to the success of the business. To ensure the legal team’s understanding of the technology itself, the GC, Sean Roberts, established an academy that would deliver training to lawyers in the form of webinars and seminars from leading experts in the relevant fields.

“I thought if we were going to stay relevant as a legal function three years from then, we needed to set sail to better understand the digital landscape in its real form, not its legal form,” says Roberts. “There was a strong belief that we need to know the tech before the law.”

Now in its second year, the program has been expanded to include the entire GSK legal department and has drawn interest from other departments. “It’s about client satisfaction, and people are pleased,” says Roberts.  

In addition to nurturing a smarter and more responsive legal team, Roberts notes other benefits from the legal academy. For example, the legal team learned that the speed at which technology moves requires an appropriate structural response from them. 

“You need to structure yourself for the pace of digital technology,” he notes. “It is important particularly in big companies to ensure you have mobile units that can sprint with digital teams.”

Is your role being redefined?

If Tech IQ is becoming an increasingly relevant and required attribute of the GC business leader, what can you do to learn more about the tech strategy of your company while at the same time arguing the case for a tech investment budget for the legal department?

This post is part of a thought leadership series, “The GC {Re}Defined,” which explores how technology is reshaping the role of the GC.

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