How do I procure the right legal tech?

This is certainly the million dollar question in legal operations – how do you know the tech that you’re procuring is right for your organisation? With an astounding amount of choice these days where do you begin? While every organisation is different, these are some considerations that should be taken into account when you’re looking for new tech:

Are you ready for tech?

The first consideration isn’t really about the tech at all – it’s more around your preparation for getting tech in the first place. If the ‘people, process, tech’ process for implementing tech is followed then there needs to be some preparatory work to maximise the benefits of any tech that you procure. The analysis of people and process avoids an often made mistake which assumes that the tech will be a silver bullet to increase efficiencies.

It’s true that the tech is likely to make efficiencies but the question is by how much? If an implementation is months long and you only get marginal gains – was it worth it? Probably not. Reviewing people is important – who will be the users and what are their actual needs? This shouldn’t be based on assumptions but a deep understanding of their current needs and the issues they want you to solve. There’s no point in getting a new shiny tool if it doesn’t provide the users with the benefit they are looking for.

Analysing processes is also important to avoid the pitfall of replicating an old process into a new system – especially if the tech allows new, different ways of carrying out the same work. Perhaps there is something in it that means Bob doesn’t need key in information manually, or that means Trish doesn’t have to carry out a review. Cutting out no longer needed elements of an old process will create time and efficiency savings that should be amplified by the tech you’re implementing.

At the point of long listing or short listing tech you should have a list of key requirements from your users and these should contain the functionality required to resolve the issues the users are having. There is also an assumption here that a budget has been approved for the procurement so you know the parameters of your search for tech.

Long and short listing

Once you’ve done all your preparatory work, understood the issues and user needs, and you’re armed with your budget then now its time to have a look around in the market for the tech you need. How to do that depends on the tech itself and whether you want to do it yourself or you want consultants to handle it on your behalf.

If the view is that you want to do it by yourself then it is probably worth spending some time reviewing what legal tech is out there for the needs you have. This could be scanning the web, following LinkedIn company pages, attending events, receiving demos or asking peers at different organisations what they recommend. This will take a bit of time and effort as there is a lot of choice these days. Once you’ve long listed them all then it’s time to review them and whittle them down to five strong candidates.

These five candidates should be able to do what you want it to do functionally. It might be they can’t do everything you want as lists of functionality requirements can sometimes be wish lists but they should be able to solidly solve the issues at hand.

Request for Proposal

To confirm your functionality assessment you’d should ask the vendors to confirm they can meet the requirements you have – and if it can meet the requirement how does it meet the requirement. The Request for Proposal process also allows you to request the commercials from vendors in any the event you were to select them as vendor of choice.

This process also allows you to provide context to the vendor ie the reason you’re buying the tech, and what the anticipated user base will be. This will (hopefully) allow the vendor, or implementation consultants on their behalf, to tailor the response to your organisation’s particular needs.

Once you have scored the responses from your shortlisted set of vendors you will be able to see which one has come out on top – the vendor of choice.


Once you’ve picked your vendor of choice – the one that most suits your needs both functionally and commercially – now is the time to negotiate. The amount of breadth you have to negotiate will probably be dictated by factors like your bargaining position against the vendor. Negotiating against IT behemoths like Microsoft probably won’t reap rewards but if you’re dealing with a smaller start up/scale up looking to grow their offering you’re bargaining position will be stronger. The same also applies to how much you’re willing to spend. The chances are there is more breadth negotiating lots of user licenses with implementation, as compared to a handful of licenses with no implementation.

The thing to consider negotiating for legal tech is that you should look at the implementation more broadly than just what you get when it goes live. Mistakes tend to happen when companies try and eke out as much functionality as possible into the first implementation – often at the expense of maintaining it afterwards. This tends to happen in high value implementations like CLM. You will need to consider what happens when those implementing drop off – is support sufficient? do you have the right internal resource to maintain it? will you be beholden to consultants forevermore? Ultimately the more complex it is the more of a need maintenance will be.

There is an argument that you should start simple and iterate when it comes to implementation so you may want to factor a pilot followed by phases when you think about negotiating bigger implementations like CLM. This tends to provide faster time to value with least amount of change management. Also, don’t forget to factor in knowledge transfer when you negotiate – it’s critical that you’re able to maintain what has been implemented yourself or at least be able to do so in the event you need to.

I’ll save considerations for implementation for another article(!) but I hope this article was useful as a brief guide on how to make sure you get the right tech. Any questions or additions please feel free to reach out to me!

Marc May
Founder, The Legal Technologist

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