Creating Effective In-House Legal Teams in 2023

Using the findings from Summize's 2023 Legal Disrupters report, this article discusses 5 strategies to help create a more effective and visible legal team.
December 19, 2023

In-house legal teams are responsible for all the legal matters of a company. And like any other team in a business, they contribute to the wider business growth by providing strategic advice to the stakeholders.

However, unlike their counterparts in the marketing, sales or R&D teams, many legal teams are still very traditional and have not begun to use digital technology to enhance how they carry out day-to-day deliverables.

Additionally, although most businesses understand the importance of legal in closing deals, many still find it hard to measure the value that their legal team is bringing to the organisation. This is partly due to the friction caused by delays and bottlenecks and a lack of cross-functional work between the legal team and the wider business.

When dealing with these challenges, it can be difficult to know where to start. So, in this article, we’ve shared 5 strategies to help enhance and develop your legal team to become more visible and effective.

1 - Work collaboratively with stakeholders

We surveyed over 100 global in-house legal professionals about their current challenges, and a whopping 81% of these respondents believe that for legal teams to be seen as a value-adding, strategic resource, they must foster a culture of better collaboration with legal and the rest of the business.

As previously mentioned, a major challenge with creating an effective legal team is how they are mostly monofunctional in nature. But as we all know, the advent of Covid19 and remote working have drastically increased the cross-functionality of teams within a business. This new way of working increases trust and confidence in colleagues.

There are diverse ways of building cross-functional teams and integrating the contract lifecycle within your business is one way to effectively keep stakeholders in the loop and engaged.  

Cue Summize Conversations Feature

With Conversations in Summize, you facilitate quick and easy internal collaboration, directly anywhere within a contract. You can tag colleagues or leave comments on any part of a contract you want them to be aware of or act on. The feature was built to increase collaboration between legal teams and other departments, and remove the risk of sending multiple, hard-to-track emails.

Instead of the traditional and long-winded top-down or bottom-up approach, Conversations on Summize encourages a horizontal approach. Here, everyone works together on contracts from start to finish, increasing the visibility and value of the work that legal teams carry out in a business.  

2 - Swap basic tasks for high-value strategic work

Organisations appreciate and reward innovative teams; these teams are often referred to as intrapreneurial. Intrapreneurial teams are entrepreneurial in nature because they are results-oriented and proactive with initiatives and projects within their organisation.

From our survey, 81% of legal professionals agree that basic tasks, such as simple contract reviews, dominate the in-house legal department’s daily workload, leaving no time for high-value, strategic work.

Though these simple contract reviews are vital, they should not dominate daily workload, especially in a competitive business terrain where contenders are constantly innovating.  

A digital contracting solution like Summize allows you simplify and accelerate your contract processes, from request to repository. Summize integrates with your existing tech stack including Microsoft Teams, Slack and Word for greater user adoption, faster contract cycles, measurable efficiencies and mitigated risk. Legal teams gain visibility and control, while business colleagues are empowered to self-serve.  

Reviewing a contract from the Teams Summize Assistant

Reviewing a document in Teams with the Summize Add-in

Reviewing a contract directly from the Summize web app

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80% of legal professionals say their contracts are handled manually, which causes delays, impacting cycles across the business.

Summize is designed to simplify and accelerate contracting processes across the end-to-end contract lifecycle by automating tasks that are traditionally manual. Thereby leaving you with more time to focus on high-value, strategic work. Some of the features shown above are:

  1. Contract Info - Gives a glance of the important details of a contract like the name of the person that created the contract, the date it was created, contract type and the parties involved.
  1. Tasks - Provides a holistic view of all stakeholders’ deliverables on a contract and makes follow up on such deliverables simpler.
  1. Conversations - Allows you to tag people and use hashtags to ask relevant or urgent questions.  
  1. Clause Summary - Extracts all important clauses within a contract and allows you use the embedded Open AI feature to generate easy-to-read summaries of these clauses.
  1. Playbook – Shows standard positions and alternative clauses for your contract types.
  1. Insights - Provides useful insights on the contract, including how your business is protected within the contract and the risks.  
  1. Attachments - Allows you add additional context to a contract by attaching supporting documents.
  1. Collaborators - An overview of all the people working on the contract.  
  1. History - A list of all your historical events relating to a contract.  

3 - Invest in innovation and digital technology  

Creating effective in-house legal teams requires continued investments in innovation and digital technology. With legal teams being tasked with producing more work with less resources, it’s imperative for forward-thinking organisations to incorporate Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) tools into their everyday work.  

Our survey suggests that 93% of in-house legal professionals agree that increased efficiency is one of the main benefits of a CLM solution while 84% believe their businesses should invest more in legal technology this year for productivity and efficiency gains.

Legal Teams need to catchup with other teams within the business when it comes to digital transformation. Summize makes this transformation seamless with a dedicated Implementation and Customer Success team.

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Ready to do your digital contracting differently? Book a Demo.

4 – Produce faster work

Time is a valuable resource. That’s why one of our core values at Summize is “Will to Win”, this challenges each team to not only do strategic work, but to do them exponentially. Your team’s ability to produce work at a faster rate can help increase your team’s value.  

Business and legal teams are often at loggerheads because of the time it takes to conclude on contracts, but work can be produced at a much faster rate when you employ the use of a CLM tool.  

Stats from our survey support this claim as 77% of in-house legal professionals agree that faster contract turnaround time is one of the main benefits of a CLM solution.

“Our company is one out of a group of companies and we’ve recently been highly praised by the board because we are now able to produce quality work at a faster rate. It is possible that they will implement Summize as the CLM solution for the other businesses in the group soon.” - Anonymous Customer  

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Additionally, the folder structure on Summize saves you time as it allows you to quickly find and browse contracts and review them with others in real time.

5 - Make more data-backed decisions

Can you tell how many contracts your in-house legal team worked on in a period? Which of those contracts had compliance issues or red flags in them? Can you state the average amount contracts cost your business?  

The ability to take data – to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualise it, to communicate it – is going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades.” - Hal Varian, Chief Economist, Google.

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The notion held by many businesses is that legal teams unlike other teams are unable to backup discussions with specific data, but that can change. Summize provides you with meaningful analytics, allowing you to make better informed decisions.

44% of legal professionals say their biggest pain point around contracts is the lack of data and insight on contract KPIs.

Businesses that do not track analytics are unable to effectively mitigate failures or multiply their success in the future.   


Creating effective in-house legal teams benefits not just the legal team but the whole business.  

For more insights on how to significantly enhance your legal team’s productivity, get the 2023 Legal Disruptors Report.


About the author

The Summize Team

Summize is a Contract Lifecycle Management solution that incorporates contract workflows into the tools you and your business already use every day.
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