Technology is changing the way that corporate legal teams operate. At this year’s HighQ Forum, we asked corporate legal leaders to share how they are using technology in their day-to-day work. During our first corporate legal breakout sessions, they offered other insights about the challenges they face, how they’ve achieved success and what they would like legal tech to do for their teams in the future.

If you weren’t able to make it to the event, we’ve got you covered. The sessions were full of interesting information and useful knowledge. Explore the insights here.

The missing link: Outside counsel collaboration platforms

Collaboration is critical for Mo Ajaz, the global head of legal operational excellence, who works at National Grid. However, there are inherent conflicts that derail effective external counsel collaboration. Mo believes that these conflicts are rooted in three areas: the outdated charge out model which offers no incentive for external counsel to collaborate, competition between panel firms who want to win business more than they want to share content, and the lack of strategy for measuring success and rewarding firms that work collaboratively.

Mo illustrated the power of a collaboration platform for outside counsel management by outlining current issues and listing four main benefits that he sees. A collaboration platform creates:

  • One clear source of truth, rather than 6 platforms used by 12 different law firms
  • Improved demand management and self-service
  • Mobile access to the legal department anytime, anywhere speeding the sales cycle for the business
  • Better legal data capture to be leveraged in the future

Mo believes there’s a huge demand in corporate legal departments for an industry standard platform that is ready out of the box and can drive panel firm content sharing.

Legal technology implementation: How to get it right

Legal operations is key in corporate legal departments and Sarah Barrett-Vane is passionate about bringing together people, processes and technology to change the way in-house teams work. Sarah has some simple, but effective advice for in-house teams looking to implement technology:

  1. Think
  2. Plan
  3. Act

While acting is the exciting step, it really should come last. Sarah believes that the key to successful implementation lies in the thinking and planning steps. As you think about technology solutions, it’s important to prioritise your problem areas, aim for a quick win and consider what level of change the business can tolerate.

As a part of thinking and planning your project, she recommends being prepared to get buy-in from stakeholders at all levels, and start early. Think broadly about who needs to be involved, who will be impacted and who will need to be consulted. The sooner you begin to socialise your plan the more likely you are to get approvals when it’s time to buy technology.

When it finally is time to act, consider what solutions are best for your business. Ask yourself and the vendor:

  • Will the software work for your company, on the devices you have in mind?
  • Is it in the cloud? It really should be.
  • Does it integrate with current systems?
  • Is it user-friendly, secure and data-friendly?

As you work with vendors, test their promises, double-check overly optimistic timelines and see tailored demos. Include your findings in your business case, as well as key return on investment figures.

In closing, Sarah offered some simple, memorable advice for in-house teams, “Standing still is not an option because there are just too many benefits to be had… choose carefully, be brave and go for it, but for goodness sake, get it right.”

Creating your digital legal hub: What to focus on first

The team at BUPA is just beginning their journey with legal technology and are enthusiastic about the opportunity to improve their legal operations. Stuart Brown, general counsel, and Tori Corser-Sproson, legal operations assistant at BUPA, shared their plans for creating a legal hub to better serve their business.

Their primary goal in adopting legal technology is to digitise the information in the legal department and offer easier access to that information. The platform will allow them to move matter tracking and management from where it currently lives in Excel to a more dynamic, data-friendly system. They plan to create a know-how and community site to offer and share their expertise with the legal department and business at large. They will also use the platform for project management and outside counsel collaboration to better manage spend and create visibility to matter status.

To get more out of their investment, BUPA created a team of 10 called the Legal Lab, tasked with designing solutions for key areas using technology. The Legal Lab focuses on ways to connect offices across the UK to improve collaboration, contract automation, matter intake and triage of work, digital reporting and M&A deal hubs.

In-house journeys in legal tech: best practices and lessons learned

Technology deployment and adoption is a journey, but there’s something to learn from each step. Ben White from Crafty Counsel hosted a panel discussion with three in-house lawyers from companies at different stages of their legal technology journey. The panel featured Natalie Salunke from Fleetcor, Anne Raymond from Louis Dreyfus Company(LDC) and Seng Chan from Nisbets.

While Fleetcor is in early stages of technology adoption, their strength lies in making the most of their current technology. Natalie says they are focused on moving away from spreadsheets and using technology to improve legal matter management. Like many, they face the challenge of winning budget, but when approaching the business, they articulate problems experienced by stakeholders and present real solutions. They see value in technology that can empower better workflow and processes to accelerate their projects.

Much like Fleetcor, Anne from LDC's goal is to create a system where they can collaborate internally, collect data and knowledge, and streamline matter intake. They selected HighQ and are in early stages of implementation. When evaluating legal tech, they built their business for HighQ case around the flexibility of a platform that can be used by the whole business, not just legal.

Nisbets are slightly further along in their technology adoption journey and currently use HighQ. Under Seng’s leadership, they have kept their legal tech simple and use the platform as a legal hub rather than buying individual point solutions. They are currently working to find new, better ways to work and be more efficient.

Leveraging your own product: Experiences of a legal tech GC

Before coming to HighQ, Xavier Langlois worked at a Fortune 500 company where spreadsheets were king. As general counsel for HighQ, he has been able to leverage the HighQ platform to drive value, speed the sales process and help pursue the business’s goals.

The HighQ legal team uses the platform as a legal hub—everything they do, every document they work on and produce, every contract they review lives in the legal hub. Because it all exists in a central location, Xavier and his team are able to quickly report to internal stakeholders.

HighQ’s legal hub is used as a portal to access legal knowledge, field questions, use self-service tools and streamline matter intake. After implementing the legal hub, Xavier was able to reduce the sales cycle by 45 days. In addition, the number of emails received by the legal team has reduced by 50 percent. The HighQ legal hub is the corporate legal platform and central location for legal document management, legal knowledge management, matter intake and self-service.

Cutting through the hype: what to focus on now and what's coming next

Back in 2009, David Griffin, head of legal governance systems and change at BT, found himself explaining his role in legal technology to members of the business and now, ten years later, he’s still having the same conversations. The legal technology landscape has evolved over the last decade and the number of available solutions has grown exponentially. With the number of vendors now available, David understands why GCs and in-house teams get overwhelmed.

It can be hard to know where to start, but David offered some advice. “Think big, but start small… Build your vision and see what good looks like for your organisation. Take what you see and draw it back to the basics and the foundation to make that vision work."

The basics are managing your matters, your vendors and your documents. If you can do that, you will be able to gather the data surrounding all of these items and see the big picture with legal data analytics.

Legal technology is more accessible and affordable than ever, so start with a small problem you can solve and go and conquer.

No matter where your corporate legal team is in the technology journey, there’s always something to be learned from others who have been there. We’re excited and honored to be a part of the innovation and creativity happening in corporate legal departments around the world.