Blog Post

Legal Transformation Playbook: Reducing Risk Through Operational Change

This landscape has left many organisations facing a difficult balancing act of pursuing digital transformation (an imperative that more than 40% of business leaders feel pressure to achieve) while mitigating an array of new and evolving data and legal risks. In addition, a flurry of challenges — such as disconnected teams, a patchwork of global laws, the growing scope, scale and volume of litigation and investigations, myriad technologies and rising e-discovery costs — has underscored the need for legal departments to tackle significant transformation efforts.

The advent of sweeping regulations, stricter antitrust oversight, complex data privacy and governance requirements, disrupted financial systems, and rapid growth in nascent industries are affecting in-house legal teams across every sector.

Common Legal Department Pitfalls

Data and data-related risks will continue to pervade every aspect of a business. In parallel, legal departments will struggle to contain costs and meet the loudening call for in-house counsel to do more with less. Data can exacerbate many existing challenges for legal departments operating without standardised, connected tools and workflows.

Typical difficulties experienced in environments with disparate processes include:

  • Long lead times to select and engage with service providers, causing costly or risk-inducing delays.
  • Cumbersome data transfer mechanisms with timeintensive steps, poor audit trail and excessive manual overhead.
  • Lagging adoption of advanced technology to accelerate review and other workflows.
  • Poor visibility and coordination of efforts across significant matters.
  • Duplicative work.
  • Lack of quality control and audits for decision-making and outcomes.
  • Disjointed reporting and a lack of clear, actionable insights into e-discovery, disputes, investigations, spending and other functions.
  • Inability to predict and manage cost.
  • Heightened risk of data loss with data held across multiple third parties and venues.
  • Lack of preparedness to manage emerging data sources.
  • Blind spots regarding emerging risks and knowledge sharing.

The Playbook


of large organisations plan to reduce risk by investing in dedicated technology to conduct due diligence, monitoring and investigations.


increase in the volume of data processed ine-discovery and investigations, with more than one-third of the total attributed to emerging data sources.

Shifting a legal department’s operating model and enabling more in-house control via self-service functions can address common pitfalls and deliver numerous improvements across risk, cost, efficiency and quality. Key pillars that underpin streamlined, risk-alert legal department strategy and operations include:

  • Consistent methodology. Standardising a playbook and templates across all matters and supporting implementation with comprehensive training programmes will ensure consistency. Doing so will result in workflow uniformity, review coding decisions, matter reporting, disclosure and inputs to global reporting are critical to cost containment and defensibility.
  • Low or no-touch matter management. Teams can establish centralised matter setup and management systems with portals that enable in-house teams to selfservice matters and access approved service providers as needed. These portals include integrated workflows that streamline matter setup, project management, conflicts reviews, billing and financial reporting.
  • Real-time, on-demand reporting and monitoring. With a holistic view across all matters globally, legal teams gain insight into comprehensive and detailed multi-matter insights at the appropriate organisational level. When overlaid with additional data points such as budget, spending and resourcing, matter dashboards can enable side-by-side comparisons for any metrics of interest to the legal department. Moreover, integrated monitoring will support the legal team with proactively identifying patterns and overlap across frequent custodians, relevant documents and multi-region investigations.
  • Direct-to-cloud and cloud-to-cloud connectivity. To deal with emerging data sources in discovery and investigations, legal teams need a faster and more effective way to connect the information held in corporate data centres and cloud applications with their review platforms. With this connectivity, teams can eliminate manual intervention and reduce delays during data collection and transfers. This approach also reduces the number of copies of documents left behind during transit, can be fully audited for defensibility and can enable repeatability for ongoing or new matters.
  • Self-service e-discovery. Via a secure portal to a globally federated suite of e-discovery tools, in-house teams can facilitate workflows, administration and data sovereignty without the involvement of third parties.
  • Data enrichment. Intuitive displays and functionality for emerging data sources (such as chat, audio and video) within review workflows can allow legal teams to gain faster, richer insights from their data. Advanced filtering, search, and transcription capabilities can convert emerging data into compatible formats and quickly isolate relevant portions for review.

Doing More with Less

Legal is not the only corporate function impacted by emerging data sources and regulatory implications. Stakeholders across human resources, IT, security, data privacy, compliance, records management, and communications surveillance all encounter unique challenges in this landscape. However, they also benefit from process improvements and transformation efforts that make understanding and managing data flows throughout their organisation easier.

In addition to significantly reducing costs and risks, key benefits of transformation within legal department functions (and other groups) include:

  • A single source of truth, providing teams access to a centralised and up-to-date view across all matters.
  • An empowered collaboration between teams involved on related matters and faster time to insight on each case.
  • Standardised approaches to improve consistency, efficiency and quality across all e-discovery and investigations workflows.
  • Time savings and reduced reliance on outside providers.
  • Improved in-house control and visibility into data, workflow and legal department resourcing.
  • Proactive identification of patterns, trends and emergent risks across the enterprise. This article was originally published on on 21 October 2022.

According to FTI Consulting’s Resilience Barometer, many organisations are proactive in addressing their new data risks, though there is still room for improvement. Through a technology-enabled approach, organisations can maximise their resources to identify and monitor increasing risks, standardise e-discovery and investigations methodologies and bring more efficiency to the legal department. As data challenges continue on an upswing, these will be critical factors in maintaining resilience in the face of an evolving landscape of data and legal risks.

Related topics:

The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.