Data-Centric Legal Teams
From litigation to negotiation, the ability to access data is changing. The range and scale of 'what is data' is vast. Finding a use case for introducing new data or converting existing repositories to structured data can be done. However, it is best to start with with outcome in mind.
In this use case the outcome we wanted was to use data to change perceptions about the legal function.
Problem: Perception was that legal was 'slow' to negotiate. Because the contracts are a legal document, legal is often perceived as being 'in charge' of the negotiation and therefore responsible for how long the process takes. More often the contract is merely curated by legal and commercial decisions and inputs are actually 'owned' by the business. Legal could act within certain defined fallbacks, but frequently needed specific exception decisions and had to have the input of others. The resulting perception was that legal was holding up negotiations and was the cause of delays.
What we did: The Legal function became data-centric and used the information we generated to drive decisions. We introduced data structures and controls within matter metadata, defined the workflows for and ownership of activity with clear accountability for tasks. We involved all stakeholders, combined process and planning, insisted on agreement about structured data and provided a platform to collaborate - reducing email and unnecessary document duplications.
Results: We were able to show that negotiations were not 'stuck with legal'. The data showed a third of matters were external and sat with clients. Only a third were with the legal team. The final third was actually held up with other internal teams, for example pending credit team or sales team decisions and inputs. By capturing data for accountability for delays, the elapsed time and ownership of delay we were able to start evidence-based conversations about process improvements to reduce the overall elapsed negotiation time.
Top Tip: Driven by communication, collaboration and joint stakeholder desire it is possible to move to a data-centric environment that brings order to chaos. Success requires planning and solid project management. Legal teams require new skillsets. If you cannot create dedicated resource, find the ROI to bring these into the mix by asking for support and budget.