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6 Budget Planning Tips for Legal Teams in the New Year

January 8, 2024 3 min read
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It’s January, which means that teams across every department in every industry are undertaking the enormous task of financial planning for the upcoming year, and legal teams are no exception. Navigating the complexities of a legal team’s day-to-day operations, compliance requirements, and technology advancements requires a thoughtful approach. They have to consider recent regulatory changes, headcount–or the potential lack thereof–software evaluation, and so much more. Where should they start when starting to streamline budgeting and operations in 2024?  We’ve got a few ideas.

Make some room for AI

In 2024, the role of artificial intelligence in legal operations continues to expand. Allocate a specific portion of your budget to integrate AI tools into your workflows. Whether it’s for document review, legal research, or contract management, investing in AI technologies can enhance efficiency and reduce long-term costs. Identify which parts of your workflow would most benefit from automation, look for corresponding AI solutions, and earmark a dedicated budget for their implementation. Don’t forget to do a test roll out first, though!

Keep your head in the clouds

Your team has likely done this already, but in case it hasn’t, invest in cloud-based collaboration tools. They’ll streamline back and forth with colleagues and external collaborators while keeping digital records readily available for you to access when necessary.  Allocate a specific budget for platforms like Microsoft Teams or Slack, which facilitate seamless communication, document sharing, and project management. This not only improves efficiency but also reduces the need for physical infrastructure. It might not seem like much, but the little costs, plus all those minutes saved here and there, add up quickly.

Rethink the way you research

Legal research is a fundamental aspect of legal operations, and the way it has been conducted has remained relatively steady over the last few decades. Today, however, most information is instantly available to anyone with a phone or wi-fi connection, so the tools and methodologies that gather that information have changed. And now that AI chatbots and the endless possibilities for research that they represent have stepped onto the stage, it’s the perfect time for your team to reevaluate if you really need all the tools you’re paying for or not.

Don’t forget cybersecurity training

As cyber threats become more sophisticated, allocating a specific budget for cybersecurity training is essential, even if it may not seem an obvious thing to address during a legal team’s financial planning sessions. Invest in comprehensive training programs that educate your team on the latest security protocols, phishing prevention, and data protection measures. By taking preventative steps and proactively addressing cybersecurity concerns, you mitigate the risk of costly data breaches and their legal–and business–consequences.

Set aside a contingency fund

Legal teams often face unforeseen litigation expenses. To mitigate financial strain during legal battles, establish a specific contingency fund within your budget. This fund can cover unexpected court fees, expert witness costs, and other litigation-related expenses. Regularly assess and adjust this fund based on your organization’s risk profile and potential legal challenges.

Invest in professional development

Identify relevant courses, conferences, and internal workshops that align with the latest and greatest trends and opportunities circulating the legal space, whether it’s new tech like AI-powered contract negotiation or more broad, like the regulatory changes hitting third-party data trackers. Investing in the ongoing education of your team helps them develop and grow, leading to both increased expertise and job satisfaction. Those, in turn, lead to more resilient legal departments, lowered attrition rates, and ultimately, money saved. After all, it’s generally more cost effective to promote from within than to recruit, hire, and onboard constantly – a win-win!


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