The private equity industry has had a long run of success, including some recent record-breaking years. Underneath these achievements, however, there’s a crisis brewing over the rising cost of operating large funds in a competitive market with intense regulatory scrutiny. There’s a widening gap between the resources firms need vs. the resources they have to address skyrocketing operating expenses.
Leading asset managers are beginning to understand that digital innovation within legal operations could bridge that gap. Firms willing to undergo a digital transformation can better position themselves to achieve competitive returns no matter the economic climate.
What is legal operations?
Legal operations, or legal ops, is a collection of business processes, technologies, activities, and professionals that enable in-house legal departments to serve the business effectively and drive value. Legal ops applies business practices to the delivery of legal services, allowing employees to operate predictably and efficiently in pursuit of the company’s near- and long-term goals.
Legal ops is not for in-house lawyers alone and, instead, involves stakeholders from across the organization. Legal ops professionals, tech solutions, and processes support in-house legal departments in terms of project management, financial management, strategic planning, and technology expertise.
Over the years, legal ops has shifted priorities from reducing costs to driving strategic value for the business and, most recently, to championing innovation. When legal ops focuses on digitally transforming manual and routine legal tasks, asset managers can experience numerous benefits, including lower costs and more time for strategic tasks. Ultimately, by implementing efficiencies within legal processes, firms can remain competitive in a high-stakes market.
What is a legal operating system?
A legal operating system, a legal OS or L.OS, is a platform that streamlines legal workflows for core functions. For fund managers, it’s a combination of technology solutions and internal processes intended to take a comprehensive and efficient approach to legal tasks throughout the fund lifecycle.
The legal operating system for private markets
Ontra partnered with the world’s leading investment firms to develop a suite of solutions that make up a legal OS for private markets. Our solutions digitally transform key legal processes within fundraising, investing, and ongoing fund management.
FundFormer streamlines the fundraising process for managers, investors, and third parties by providing a seamless digital subscription experience. Firms can manage all aspects of onboarding investors, tracking their pipeline, and collecting AML/KYC documentation in one white-label platform.
To speed up the initial NDA hurdle in the deal process, Ontra developed Contract Automation, which capitalizes on artificial intelligence and a global network of experienced lawyers to streamline routine contract negotiations and cut down on turnaround times.
To date, Ontra’s legal network has collectively processed over 750,000 legal documents for more than 500 financial services clients, including over 200,000 NDAs in 2022. We have a massive contract repository that gives us unique insight into what’s on- or off-market for private equity NDAs.
Insight translates the fund obligations buried in legal documents into structured data that asset managers can use to manage their commitments to investors, identify precedent, and better inform negotiations. Contract compliance is a critical part of the private fund lifecycle, particularly as side letters become more common and grow in complexity. Insight provides a way for firms to address their varied side letter commitments on time and at scale.
Combined, these three products create the de facto legal operating system for private markets, giving firms the ability to digitally transform their legal operations and maintain a competitive edge in an evolving, high-stakes market.
The digital transformation for asset managers
Firms faced far fewer challenges during PE’s most successful years. Now, as firms move into a year already defined by economic uncertainty, they have to address the fact that the PE industry has fundamentally changed in terms of expanding fund sizes, heightened regulatory scrutiny, increasing legal complexity, and ballooning legal fees.
Asset managers need to digitally transform their legal operations. Otherwise, it could become apparent that inefficient processes and wasted time and money diminish returns for investors, and firms could lose their competitive edge.