Global | Study on the digitization of Legal Departments | 2019

2019 pivotal year: the digital transformation of legal departments is underway!


Conducted with CMS Francis Lefebvre Avocats and Cercle Montesquieu, the study of the digitization of legal departments is :

  • A hundred legal departments of all sizes surveyed
  • A reflection on the maturity of the digital transformation of legal departments
  • An analysis of the evolution of legal departments in the face of digitization
  • Key indicators on the management of the digitization project


2019: the year of the switch to artificial intelligence and the takeover of technologies by the legal departments.

According to the study, legal departments are planning a digital transformation in the next 3 to 5 years that will integrate Artificial Intelligence, automatic document analysis and chatbots.

“We are at the beginning of the digital transformation path.”

Olivier Bélondrade, Head of the Factory at Cercle Montesquieu.

Nevertheless, artificial intelligence may prove to be a blockage for some lawyers who develop a fear; in the minds, the machine would be a tool that ensures all their functions. In reality, the machine never replaces a task performed by lawyers whose judgment and analysis remain irreplaceable.

In response to a question from one of the participants during the presentation, Olivier Chaduteau explained that the place of the jurist is essential in legal transformation. Machine learning”, a field of study of artificial intelligence, works on the basis of the lawyer’s knowledge: it is literally the lawyer who learns by machine! NLP (Nature Language Processing) also works thanks to the lawyer and allows the machine to understand the meaning of words.

“There are a hundred areas where machines are better than us!”

Laure Lavorel, Manager of the Factory of the Cercle Montesquieu

Legal expertise has evolved through digitalization. For example, the large volume of data is gradually becoming untenable for the lawyer in the face of the multiplication of regulations and the judicialization of the business world. In this case, digital tools will become more efficient than human ones.


Legal departments are not lagging behind their companies and are aware of how far they still have to go.

The digital transformation allows legal departments to position themselves strategically and justify their role as a business partner internally.

Today, legal departments are able to keep pace with the digitization of their company. However, the results obtained show that they are fully aware of the road ahead over the next few years. Olivier Chaduteau insisted on the fact that digitisation was a long but certain process. On average, respondents gave a score of 5.1 out of 10 to the digital transformation of their company, compared to 4.1 out of 10 for the digital transformation of their legal department.

“Anything that can be automated will be progressively automated.”

Bruno Dondero, Partner at CMS Francis Lefebvre, Professor at the Sorbonne Law School (University of Paris 1)


EDM, contract management and company law are the basis for the digitization of legal departments.

The priority of the legal departments is to ensure the proper functioning of the tools for EDM, contract management and company law before going any further. These 3 processes will ensure the benefits of digitization mentioned throughout the study.

EDM (Electronic Document Management) is at the top of the processes most impacted by digitisation. It allows the lawyer to be more efficient and promotes the sharing of information and documents, both internally and externally. Company law, the third process most impacted by digitisation according to the study, is gradually being dematerialised. Beyond the stakes of the digital transformation, this dematerialization could give it a new dimension.


In 2019, the digital transformation of the legal departments is also focused on automated contract drafting and chatbots.

Eric Ravy, legal director of OUI SNCF, shared his feedback on the chatbot integration project within the legal department. He said that digitisation is helping to develop the image of the legal department, which is now an innovative player, but also to work on a joint internal project that will enable them to collaborate on er with other teams.

Faced with all these new digital tools, the lawyer may lack reference points and get lost in the “ultra digital”. In response to a question from the floor, Olivier Chaduteau explained that the deployment of APIs and interoperability between several tools and databases can remedy this problem. The flexibility and ease that this brings will allow the lawyer to save time and be more efficient.


Legal departments must align their resources with the challenge of digitization

“Initial tool training is key!”

Olivier Chaduteau, Managing Partner of Day One

Today, companies are investing heavily in technology and the digitization of their services.

The study of the digitisation of legal departments makes us aware of the need to invest in training; lawyers must be constantly trained, particularly in project management and new digital tools, in order to reinforce their added value internally.

Project management is an essential skill for successfully completing medium and long-term digitisation projects. All the internal and external actors of the legal department are concerned by this know-how.

For Olivier Chaduteau, digital transformation is first and foremost “a human and organisational transformation and then a transformation of the tools”.

The legal department must also take into account two considerations in its digitization process: the transformation axes that will be managed entirely internally (“make”) and those that will be outsourced and handled by partner law firms and/or Legaltechs (“buy”).

But how much of the legal budget is devoted to digital transformation? The study shows us that it is quite low (8.5% on average). Moreover, it is very important and necessary to distinguish between the implementation of the project (“Build”) and the annual cost that it generates once implemented (“Run”).

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