The world in quarantine has caused multiple issues for in house legal teams everywhere. The least of which should be processing contracts needed to get funding or to restructure debt. For some companies with mature legal ops functionality, this has been a relatively easy transition. For others it has been a bit more challenging.
I recently spoke with the GC of a company that had to restructure some existing debt in order to close on a new round. Both actions were vital to the company staying in business. She had recently implemented an e-signature software and is currently looking to implement a contract management workflow. With her current process, she was able to get all of the necessary corporate documents, and contracts signed by key executives and board members very quickly even though they were spread across 5 states and 8 cities.
Her counterpart at the bank wasn’t so lucky. Like many financial institutions, his team’s legal ops maturity is non-existent much less having a strong contract management workflow. In addition to having to resend the finalized restructuring agreement twice because the first one was “lost in email”, the bank attorney also had to Fed Ex original documents to obtain signatures from relevant people on his side. The delay caused by chasing documents and then chasing signatures when the signatory isn’t in the office down the hall but in a house across town or holding up outside of town at a vacation property had a huge impact on the customer. In our conversation, she admitted that the delay caused by something as silly as not having an efficient process to obtain signatures had her executive team reconsidering their relationship with the bank.
The experience also has her evaluating her own legal ops maturity and looking for ways of improving her interactions with her internal and external clients. She realized that the delays by poor process had a real impact on business. Now she’s looking into expanding beyond e-signature and contract management workflows. She can really do a lot more with minimum effort. Every in-house legal team should be looking at improving their process, implementing tools that speed up their workflows in all areas, and improve collaboration with their internal customers. It’s the minimum that will be expected as we start phasing back into routine and our “new normal” work environments.