What constitutes the value of business legal services and how to assess that value? Those questions not only pop up in a number of seminars, blogs, etc. They also often burn in the minds of the legal service users. Increasingly, they have also been the challenges bravely taken up by some players in the legal industry, including Fondia.
The value of legal services to a business is, in general, derived from two sources: being able to take advantage of a positive opportunity, or avoiding or mitigating a risk or a negative outcome to a business. In the absence of a parallel reality, being able to see what would have happened without the legal expertise intervention, it is hard to put a simple monetary value to this - the value of the outcome minus the costs of the service.
If the value of something may not be accurately measured, it can still be perceived. Making a patient of a medical treatment informed of the specifics of the treatment has proven to increase the positive experience – an approximate of value – for the person. In general, keeping the customer well informed of the specifics and progress of a product or service makes them happier. Consider, for example, a web store purchase. Isn’t it nice when the vendor actively communicates on the status of the delivery, and even better, when you can easily interact with the vendor and modify the order as it progresses?
The same phenomenon naturally applies on the production and delivery of business legal services. Whereas in the past the legal services process has often been shrouded in mystery, customer having little visibility to the legal work - except for the subsequent invoice for the services – today it is fully possible to make the production both transparent and more interactive between the provider and the customer. The answer lies in the digitalization of the process. While nifty tech-enabled “spot” functions, e.g., e-signing, are becoming available to make work more efficient, it is the end-to-end production, delivery, communications and collaboration enabled by a digital service platform that truly changes the game.
Take as an example a case of forming a new distribution partnership for a manufacturing company. All the necessary parties to the partnership will have access to the collaboration platform. The lawyers with the needed expertise ensure that the information and interpretation of the relevant regulations are easily available for those who need them. The partnership agreement drafting takes place under the guidance of the lawyer/s, while the business decision makers can easily add their comments and questions real time. The final approval and signing takes place in one place, and the documentation is later easily accessible to all who have access rights to it.
The value of the digital working environment is of course not limited to the efficient management of individual cases or transactions. The real value comes from the overall visibility to what is going on in the entire business, from the legal point of view. All the relevant information and activities are in one place, and also the future activities can be outlined as the master plan for everyone who needs to see it, for efficient use of time and resources.
These are not some far-away visions but quite self-evident steps. Following the developments in many other industries, digitalization is making the work more efficient and of better quality also in the legal services. The result? Smoother and predictable business operations – clearly increased value.