The Legal Front Door: An introduction to digital legal matter intake
Part 1: The benefits of a Legal Front Door
Successful legal departments know the value of direct and human contact with their internal customers, and in-house lawyers strive to achieve the, very personal, status of ‘trusted advisor’. It is no surprise that there is a certain reluctance to channel inquiries to the legal department through somewhat impersonal portal sites or automated ticket systems. However, the concept of service tickets is already a well-established business practice in departments like IT or HR to increase process efficiency and transparency – has the time of the “legal ticket“ come as well?
Authors: Klaus Gresbrand and Sophia Schick
What is a Legal Front Door?
A “Legal Front Door” is a digital platform that enables a company’s employees to submit requests to its own legal department (Legal Service Request, LSR). When the request is made, certain information and, if applicable, documents are collected to categorize the request and initiate appropriate processing by the legal department. The employee can typically view the processing status of his or her request and often also communicate further with the legal department about the request via the platform.
The Legal Front Door can also contain references to self-service offerings of the legal department. In addition to the classic Frequently Asked Questions or document libraries, these include in particular the automated creation of standard documents (e.g. an NDA generator) and automated information systems in the form of chatbots or wizards.
What are the benefits of a Legal Front Door?
The implementation of a Legal Front Door brings numerous benefits, both for the legal department and for its internal customers.
Benefits for internal customers
- Access to the legal department via the Legal Front Door as a central point of contact saves the search for the appropriate contact person at Legal: It is sufficient to describe and categorize the request in the portal by providing a few details, whereupon the legal department (manually or automatically) determines and involves the correct specialist.
- The portal page of the Legal Front Door provides internal customers with a consistent and modern “user experience” of interacting with the legal department – typically allowing for accessibility around the clock and also from mobile devices. Information on the status of the processing of the request, which can be viewed at any time, also increases transparency.
- Automated self-service applications such as chatbots or document generators can answer certain standard queries in real time – but only if the user is aware of them. Sophisticated legal front door systems direct users to relevant self-service offerings depending on the nature of the request, making it easier for the user to spot them.
- Especially if further communication on the request is also done in the system, requests and their related communications can be easily “passed on” to colleagues or reassigned in case of vacation absence or change of responsibility. There is no longer a need for the tedious gathering and forwarding of previously exchanged e-mails.
Benefits for the legal department
The legal department benefits from all the advantages for internal customers – at the very least through increased customer satisfaction. A positive service experience of the internal customers strengthens the reputation of the legal department. In addition, a Legal Front Door also has a positive effect on other levels:
- By asking for certain information and documents in a standardized way when entering the request, incoming communication can be sensibly pre-structured and distributed internally. Ideally, incoming Legal Service Requests are easy to process for the Legal Department, and fewer details must be requested manually.
- Information on the urgency and nature of the request enables meaningful prioritization, and automated advisory services and corresponding self-service elements on the portal page relieve in-house lawyers of dealing with routine inquiries.
- Perhaps the greatest benefit, is that the Legal Front Door enables the collection and analysis of detailed information about legal service requests within the company. This means that key performance indicators (KPIs) such as the number of new requests per reporting period, speed of initial response by the legal department, customer satisfaction, etc. can be recorded automatically. These, in turn, can be used by the legal department to continuously improve service and identify trends and new legal risks for the company – and they provide an objective view of the workload. The Legal Front Door, in short, helps generate the data that enables a legal department to demonstrate its contribution to the business objectively and informs department-internal decisions.