The challenges of procuring, deploying and embedding innovation will be familiar across all in-house teams. During our recent Informed Counsel Navigating the New webinar our panel of experts brought insight from three different viewpoints:
- Seng Chan, General Counsel, Nisbets, a busy GC using innovation to transform his team's services
- Chirag Zaveri, Director of Sales, Everlaw, a LawTech vendor helping clients systemise and automate complex processes
- Luke Corcoran, Innovation Engagement Manager, Government Legal Department, seeking to embed innovation across the organisation.
Considering which innovative technology to choose from can often feel like a mine field. Seng Chan, the first General Counsel at Nisbets, has been evolving the way in which the in-house legal team functions and is utilised. Seng referenced one technology in particular, HighQ, a corporate legal platform. Before settling on this platform a series of stages had to be taken in order to identify how legal technology would best support the function. Key benefits were identified which can be recognised across in-house legal teams, these were:
Shared document access and efficient working practices
The team didn't have available to them a shared area in which to store documents. Being able to hold documents in one central place (as opposed to folders on individual's desktops) was a key consideration. HighQ provided a centralised system which could manage documents, workloads, matter opening, reporting and how the team are operating. Being able to utilise the reporting function within this legal technology allows for a more streamlined process without a lot of manual work and with improved accuracy. It can be customised to suit every situation.
Collaboration and visibility within the company
A platform which can be accessed across the business allows for more visibility and involvement of the legal team. Collaboration is key with this form of technology - as it is a cloud based system it allows for not only teams within a company to work on the same documentation but also legal suppliers, such as law firms and consultants. Making for a more streamlined process which does not require countless meetings.
An important consideration in procuring technology is to ensure that it will meet your needs in the future as well as today. The technology needs to grow as your business does. The roadmap for the development of the technology by the provider should therefore be an important consideration.
On the what is next for the use technology Seng said:
"I aim to continue to champion the platform and continue collaboration with other key functions within Nisbets, including HR and Procurement. We will be using HighQ to continue to breakdown silos within the company as a platform such as this does not need to take into consideration regions, or previous barriers of time zones."
In-house legal teams are constantly asked to do more with less, become more efficient and lower costs. So they often look at the deployment of technologies which can alleviate these strains when utilised efficiently. Chirag Zaveri spoke on the challenges Everlaw have noticed in deployment of technology and best practice to mitigate these issues. Everlaw is an e-discovery technology company, who pushes the industry to think differently as they empower legal teams to do more with less, control data and reduce legal spend.
A key challenge in deploying technology is user adoption:
- How do you encourage use of the technology once you have purchased it?
- How can a team/business step away from the status quo of how it has always operated?
Two potential solutions are education and stakeholder consideration. The teams who will be users of legal technology stretch beyond the legal team, including IT, finance and HR, as well as external service providers. Getting their buy-in prior to purchase can assist with onboarding and lead to a commitment from stakeholders in gaining education on how the technology will be used. Oftentimes, technology implementation without stakeholder buy-in can feel like an unexpected change which can be a blocker to successful deployment. These early conversations also allow you to choose what implementation model works best. By partnering with other teams within the business, or external service providers, you can share the pressure of deploying technology – you don't have to take on the project alone. Chirag also recommended speaking to your technology providers about the issues you are facing as they will have seen other businesses face and overcome similar problems.
Another challenge discussed was cost. Legal teams are being asked to spend less so gaining a budget for purchasing legal technology is hard to justify. A key focus of this is to look at the cost/time/benefit analysis – what could you be doing with the time saved through deploying technology and how would this benefit the organisation? Chirag recommended:
"In building a case for deploying legal technology you have to look at the bigger picture, how the investment will benefit over time. Providing additional time and resources to aid in the improvement of legal team operations and becoming more efficient in the team's time."
Embedding – permission to innovate
Luke Corcoran is Innovation Engagement Manager at the Government Legal Department (GLD). GLD employ approx. 2000 lawyers and support colleagues across Government. Luke's role is focused on ensuring that his colleagues embrace an innovation culture, engage with innovation, and embed innovation as part of their BAU processes.
GLD faces the same barriers to successful deployment, adoption, and engagement that will be familiar to many in-house teams:
- Size and complexity of organisation
- Divergence of IT platforms/systems
- Resourcing/budget challenges
- Focus and scrutiny of government activity
- Highly regulated civil service approach could stifle innovation
- Tendency towards perfectionism for lawyers
- No central or consistent process for capturing and implementing new ideas.
Luke's approach is focused on enabling his colleagues with 'permission to innovate' and provide them with the tools to do so, thereby making GLD staff's working lives easier and more effective. Recent successful initiatives have included:
- Development of a GLD Innovation Blueprint and Strategy
- Creating a 'Wheel of Innovation' visual tool to make innovation activities visible to all
- Hosting Innovation Conversations to showcase innovative ideas going on across GLD
- Idea generation and capture initiatives, including an Innovation Challenge scheme.
Luke's tips for others looking to embed innovation in in-house legal teams are simple:
"Communicate change clearly, early and often - flexing your approach, style and format according to the audience. Don't underestimate the power of a prototype. And encourage contribution from all staff – not just the lawyers."
If you have found any of these points helpful and would like to watch the full webinar please contact firstname.lastname@example.org