5 Key Takeaways from the Alternative In House Legal Summit 2019

Posted: 23 February 2019
By: Neota Logic

Neota sponsored the Alternative In House Summit earlier this month, one of the only tech-focused In-house legal events. It was great to see some informative discussions on how in-house legal departments are utilising technology and the value this brings them. Neota’s Managing Director, EMEA, Richard Seabrook shares his top 5 takeaways from the event:

1. Context – Law is NOT an island
A major theme from all speakers was around digital disruption to business in general and how legal must look at its own operations in the context of the change happening to the wider business. This was picked up in the excellently moderated panel by Karl Chapman where the comment – ‘legal is not an island, you are part of a business process’ played to the same theme. If the business is transforming rapidly to digital and the legal team does not don’t be surprised if you are eventually designed OUT of the process.

2. Change Management
A further theme was around the change management aspect of technology-driven change – how to bring your organisation along with you in the tech transformation journey. An excellent presentation on human psychology and behavioural change by Dr Helena Roski looking at how humans adapt to change. Key advice being:

  • Address peoples’ fears first
  • The more you tell people to change, the more they resist change.
  • Language and messaging are key. Simple, visual, memorable statements capture the imagination. An example given was ‘putting a man on the moon’ statement.
  • Colours make a big difference in conveying messaging.
  • Nudge behaviour.
  • Pictures are always better than words.
  • Make change fun, interesting, relevant.
  • Watch out for the ‘cynical terrorists’ who’s high energy and negativity will undermine your change. At the end of the day, attitudes are contagious so set your’s in the right way and others will follow.

3. Process-led Change
Jon Doyle of Barclays reinforced the broader change theme, pointing to the need to hire dedicated and experienced process professionals into the legal function. An example being, process analysts who would analyse processes to find bottlenecks. Lean six sigma and continuous improvement techniques were something that was explored in a roundtable debate led by Mo Zain at National Grid who is himself a blackbelt l6S. Measure, analyse, design, implement, measure etc.

4. An enterprise approach to Legaltech
Chris Fowler from BT and Paul Peake from StubHub talked to the theme of taking a strategic, enterprise approach to legaltech. Developing a target operating model that includes people, process and technology elements thought through in the context of the business you support. On technology, they shared a roadmap containing the building blocks of a technology architecture for legal:
Process Automation / Self-service, triage, workflow tools.

  • Spend management
  • Matter management
  • Document management
  • Contract management

There was an interesting side debate about ‘BYO‘ versus ‘Buy solutions off the shelf‘. The argument was made by Paul Peake from StubHub in favour of BYO in that it helps free up the creativity of the legal team and results in more tailored solutions faster.

5. Data and Data-driven change
The Novartis and Experian panellists, along with Karl Chapman, described the approach of using data to direct investments in technology. Get the baseline in place to help them know where to automate. (e.g. Portals, ticketing systems for legal etc). This also helps you build a business case along the lines of “imagine if you could get 2 hours back in your day” if we take this routine work away.

A panel was asked what their favourite technology was. Paul Peake said that his favourite was ‘multi-jurisdiction tools’ to help monitor obligations and processes. It was great to hear from someone at such an innovative tech company, as this is exactly what Neota was built to do.

Other points that came across from this event were that it’s clear there’s a difference on where the UK is on their in-house innovation journey compared to the US. The US spoke about their experiences, what worked and what didn’t whereas the UK has just begun.

Overall, this was a gathering of like-minded GC’s/Legal ops folks who are already either on the journey towards technology-led transformation or seriously considering it. Very much aware of and managing the ‘Risk of being part of an analogue legal function in increasingly digital businesses’. One is left wondering how large the market is out there of GC’s who are not yet tuned into this conversation and what their futures hold for them…

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