Businesses, government departments, and local councils in Aotearoa have been forced to re-think their operating and legal strategies. Increased demand and strained resources continue to constrain many legal planners and policymakers which is making it critical for legal functions to rationalise spend, minimise costs and increase resource efficiencies.
With the added pressures, legal counsel, environmental planners, Health & Safety officers, Regulatory Compliance officers need effective legislative research tools to support them.
In this article, we explore simple strategies for legal teams to consider when reviewing effective legal resourcing with the right tools and investment levels.
Review your legal research resources to ensure that investment, content, and platform match your council’s needs/strategies and maximise returns on investment (ROI)
Real-time access to trusted and current information is becoming the need of the hour. It is more crucial to acquire access to a database that can help councils in New Zealand improve and future-proof their strategies and future planning. When considering updating your agreements with supplier, consider:
- Access to renowned publications or authors on the market linked to key practice areas your council manages. Build your libraries by incorporating case law, legislative libraries, practitioner reviews and guidance on key practice areas and commentary.
- Database functionality – ensure that your legal database can provide research enhancement tools and functions that will improve your user’s experience when researching. Check whether parts of the database can be automated. Re-think your legal spend and costs against retaining in-house services such as Employment practice or In-house counsel.
- Cost – renegotiate your legal subscription package and / or simultaneously enhance your current plan to expand more in-house practice to avoid outgoing third-party legal costs.
- Expand the research database to other teams such as Human Resource planners, Environmental teams, Health & Safety and Regulatory Compliance officers. Make the most of your research tool by asking your supplier for flexible user plans for part-time users (users who may only use the database once or twice a week).
- Test and try as many databases on the market as you can. Your user’s ability to be exposed to all forms of opinions and content is the key.
- Conduct a survey of staff to determine what works and what doesn’t.
We know that councils want value for money and there are no exceptions to legal teams. With continuing demand on budget and modest return on investment reviews, it is imperative to have a ‘secure content and legal effective resource.’ Having a baseline plan will promote growth and development for public sector counsel who want to attain the best outcome for their stakeholders.
Leverage Research Database technology to save your legal team’s and users’ time and money
Most legal research databases will have a variety of features and functionality that will enhance the user experience while also allowing for automated research. Legal counsel should analyse all possibilities and, more significantly, engage with suppliers about the road map for developing or emerging new technology. Our recommended legal content review or scoping exercise of legal tech tool providers; consider the following questions:
- What are the most significant database enhancements you’ve made in the last 12 months? (Note that this could be a query on both content and features/functionality.)
- How can we automate the login process? Signing in can be difficult at times. With more people working from home, it is important to make signing in as simple as possible without compromising security.
- What functionalities allow for
- Automation (e.g. capturing case commentary relevant to a certain topic etc.)
- Sending notifications
- Storage for articles, cases commentary and other data
- Artificial intelligence (don’t hesitate to bring this up)
- Do we anticipate any changes to the way we do research on the platform in the near future? (An interruption to this can lead to dissatisfaction among users.)
- Can we centralise all alerts to a single mailbox or multiple?
Make Legal Research Training a must-have skill
Many of us have learned new ways of doing things over the last 12 months, including remote and flexible working, e-commerce, more advanced websites, marketing, and self-learning. There’s nothing like hands-on experience when it comes to your career development and the wide variety of advantages you can bring to your workplace.
Training in legal research and keeping current is often an afterthought for many legal counsel and users. Take advantage of any free training offered by your supplier(s) as there will always be methods to improve your users’ experience and save them time in the long run. It is recommended that you schedule a training every second quarter. Seek complimentary CPD training so that the practicing certificate holders can meet their annual CPD requirements.
Webinars are another convenient option to hone your research skills through online remote learning. Because many team members are frequently away from their desks or working remotely, it is critical that your provider provides several formats for delivering this training.
Push alerts for case commentary and legislative updates to legal or departmental inboxes
Setting up alerts is a valuable asset in terms of time saving and professional credibility. The purpose for this is to be up to date on any changes to the legislation under specific statutes. This is a must-have feature for any council. Most databases will provide this feature, and some will have extensive settings that allow you to customise the type of alerts, and the content you wish to retrieve automatically.
Explore the unknown
The intent of this article is to highlight a variety of considerations when reviewing investment for legal and risk management resources within councils. At LexisNexis® we take a holistic approach to support council legal teams to best understand their growing needs and to supplement their strategy. For a free, no obligations consultation with our council lead, please email us at email@example.com.