Real examples and case studies of technology-enabled innovation from in-house legal teams can trigger ideas, inform initiatives and support a business case.
How in-house legal teams are innovating
In the CLL Knowledge base of best practice articles, you’ll see how technology can drive key processes for in-house legal teams. These include contract management and automation, knowledge management, document management and, where appropriate, self-service approaches to low risk processes.
Here are seven examples of technology-driven innovation and good practice which caught our eye. Let us know about any others that inspire you!
Increasing efficiency with matter management at Next
Managing and printing documents was a major administrative burden for the in-house legal team at UK retailer Next. To tackle this, the department formed a project team, led by the Assistant General Counsel.
Tasked with increasing efficiency, the team started by identifying the project’s key requirements. A big priority was to find a solution that would be easy to use and quick to implement. With this in mind, the team sourced and assessed a range of available products.
It settled on Liberate, a matter management solution provided by software developer Linetime.
Liberate’s tight integration with Outlook was the key here, as this enables the team to drag and drop emails directly into relevant matter files. The benefits of going paperless are also obvious. The IT team at Next, meanwhile, came up with a solution that strips attachments from emails and holds them on a different server while still displaying them to users. Liberate also allows the whole Next in-house legal team to see all matters and use pre-set data such as contact details across multiple matters.
The Next in-house legal team believes its matter management system will achieve considerable cost savings.
- This was a GC-led project, although the IT function was involved.
- The project team was solution-agnostic.
- The usability of the solution was critical – integration with Outlook made it far more likely to be accepted by the legal team.
Delivering a new document management system at Eurotunnel
With legal teams on both sides of the English Channel, life at Eurotunnel is not without the occasional operational challenge.
To maintain good collaboration between these teams, Eurotunnel needed a new document management system to replace its ageing case management system.
The organisation's wish list included integration with email, advanced search and robust file management. To ensure a smooth transition, it needed the new solution to work in a similar way to the existing one, particularly in terms of file structure. There would also be challenges associated with Eurotunnel’s IT security policy to overcome.
To satisfy all these requirements, Eurotunnel chose iManage Work
Implementation began with a complex content migration process. This involved mapping metadata from the old solution to the new one to retain the file structure.
With migration complete, the new solution was fully populated when the team started using it, making the transition seamless.
iManage Work is helping Eurotunnel’s 12-strong in-house team drive efficiencies across the 500 matters it deals with annually. Tight integration with Outlook and automated attaching of emails and documents to the right matter makes life a lot easier for these users.
Furthermore, an intelligent search feature built into iManage Work allows the in-house team to search across emails and documents. An OCR (optical character recognition) feature means all documents are fully searchable.
Documents are also shareable, which has enhanced collaboration between Eurotunnel’s British and French in-house legal teams.
- IT teams at both the vendor and Eurotunnel were involved early.
- The project ensured continuity between the old and new system and a smooth transition.
- Detailed requirements helped to define the solution and approaches, for example around Outlook integration and the need for a power-search.
Improved contract management at National Grid
This example was driven by a procurement function. However, the in-house legal team will have been heavily involved and influential.
Varying skills and differing systems in National Grid’s business units meant approaches to contract management across the business were inconsistent. The organisation believed improved contract management could cut costs and improve customer service.
To achieve this National Grid established a Contract Management Excellence (CME) team.
The CME team’s first job was to create a framework for a consistent organisation-wide approach to contract management. Next, it introduced a range of new technology-driven measures. These included:
- A learning programme, which includes e-learning, to upskill almost 500 professionals;
- A Community of Practice to connect these professionals online;
- An organisation-wide tool for consistent contract management workflow; and
- An organisation-wide data repository.
The CME team also captures learnings and best practices and shares these back through the Community of Practice.
- The CME team took a multi-pronged, 360-degree approach and focused on technology and user adoption.
- The framework came first – and dictated the system specification.
- e-learning and social tools to enhance communication and reinforce learnings are key.
- The new system standardises National Grid’s approach to contract management, yet allows for local variation where necessary.
Using contract automation at Reckitt Benckiser
Reckitt Benckiser (RB) uses automation to empower staff across the organisation to produce their own contracts where their needs are straightforward.
More complex matters are handled or approved by the central in-house legal team.
Branded internally as i-Legal and i-Contract RB’s custom built system provides:
- Risk and compliance checks (based on five questions). These give local teams the option to build a contract themselves or divert it to the central in-house legal team;
- Contract automation, using ContractExpress;
- Embedded electronic signatures to speed up processes; and
- A repository that stores all signed contracts.
During 2014, RB produced 1,000 contracts. Of these, only 15% required approval from the central legal team. Previously the central team had been swamped by the number of contracts it had to produce.
- Using automation and other tools can empower business units to produce their own contracts and save time for the legal team.
- The team brought different technologies together to complement each other and deliver a system rather than a single solution.
Hackathon at Westpac
Australian financial services provider Westpac organised a ‘hackathon’ with the help of law firm Gilbert + Tobin. This involved fifty lawyers and IT professionals tasked with streamlining interactions between Westpac's in-house legal team and business units.
Working through the night, the team thrashed out potential solutions to problems involving workflow, automation, enquiry handling and secondments with panel firms. At the end of the hackathon, the team was ready to pilot some of its ideas.
The mix of legal and IT professionals in the team and the diversity of those involved (including levels of seniority) were key to the success of Westpac’s hackathon.
- A hackathon is a successful format to drive new ideas and a culture of innovation.
- Working with an external law firm and other specialists can drive success.
- Diversity in a hackathon team energises the process.
Using social tools at Lloyds Banking Group
Sometimes, existing technology is sufficient to help improve communication, streamline processes and drive efficiency.
Lloyds Banking Group has an internal social network and collaboration platform called Hive. Based on Jive technology, this allows the business to create private and open community spaces where employees can share documents, chat, update wikis, post blogs, create common calendars and much more.
Lloyds Banking Group has a substantial in-house legal team scattered over different locations and business divisions. The team uses Hive to share ideas and communicate in a private forum and share updates with the wider company on an open platform.
Hive has now displaced email as an internal communication tool at Lloyds Banking Group. The organisation’s General Counsel, Kate Cheetham, says:
‘This has driven efficiencies in the business and is a far more collaborative and open way of working.’
- Using tools already at your disposal can be highly effective.
- Social and collaboration tools can improve communication and processes.
Using an extranet to communicate with external counsel at Pfizer
The Pfizer Legal Network is an innovative structure where Pfizer’s in-house lawyers and external counsel from 15 partner law firms work together and collaborate.
Underpinning this collaboration is a secure extranet called the PLA Exchange. This provides a platform for communication, drives efficiency and encourages transparency. The extranet is available to both Pfizer and its external law firms.
Fully optimised for mobile devices, PLA includes a global directory of experts, news updates, procedural information, reports and community spaces.
PLA was created in 2011 and updated in 2015, with a version based on open source technology.
- A secure extranet can help drive communication with external counsel.
- It can also support processes where contact with external counsel is driven or partly driven from the central in-house legal team.
In-house legal teams rely on technology to carry out basic operations. However you can also use it to make improvements. Use the case studies above and find out what your peers are doing to get inspired and drive innovation at your organisation. And remember, sometimes using the technology and tools already at your disposal can deliver significant benefits.