The LeftFoot podcast has been rebranded to reflect our legal operations and legal outsourcing content. 'Fresh Conversations on the Business of Law'. We're an interview format podcast - our guests are law department and law firm, innovators. Listen in as we celebrate the members of the legal community executing change in an efficiency thirsty industry.
122: Innovators Behaviors with Michele DeStefano
This month the LeftFoot Podcast features Michele DeStefano; her recent book Legal Upheaval provides the backdrop for a conversation focused on innovation in today’s legal environment.
Through her work and research for her book, Michele confirmed that clients are looking for a new type of collaborative service disguised in their request for innovation.
Along with lawyers that know their practice area, can guide and have a point of view; using business language to convey it; clients want lawyers that express the behaviors of innovators - asking different questions, listening and applying a different approach to problem finding and problem resolution.
Let’s look at an example. A bank was struggling to show they had complied with a consumer-facing compliance request. In this circumstance, an advisor would typically help the bank show and communicate that they’re in compliance. The alternative response included talking with and hearing from consumers. This bank didn’t have a compliance problem, they had a communication issue, once contacted the consumers noted that they didn’t understand the process employed. The result was education for consumers - and proof of compliance for the bank.
Recognizing the disconnect between what customers ask for and what lawyers deliver; this is an example of the culture change occurring within in-house legal and firms. They’re working jointly, investing in partnerships, and sharing risks to advance the industry.
Michele DeStefano is a lawyer, professor at the University of Miami, and guest faculty at Harvard Law School’s Executive Education program. In her book Legal Upheaval, she provides evidence that collaborative innovation is the new value equation in law.
Episode 121: Beyond the Big Bang with Jeff Pfeifer of LexisNexis
On Episode 121 we talk with LexisNexis, VP and Chief Product Officer, Jeff Pfeifer. Jeff is responsible for product strategy having established his organization as a leader in legal analytics and data-driven law.
Jeff begins our discussion by noting that access to big data and incremental tech development is resolving legacy problems within the legal industry. That in-house counsel is increasingly forward-thinking, using data to inform their responses, and looking to firms to use data in their recommendations. This data is validating a path forward and supporting what is likely to happen.
An additional challenge brought on by the proliferation of data is the need for a different skill set to access the data and make data-based recommendations. Helping organizations be change ready is where the opportunity lies. There’s a real need to build in-house teams in support of these initiatives including identifying team members who are not intimidated by tech and the advantages it brings.
There was agreement that both firms and in-house departments are in the early days of this new data, process and technology driven model. Examples exist where workflows are undergoing reconstruction, and engagement of outside counsel is being radically modified. An opportunity exists to break down and understand processes so that we can rebuild and better align with today’s environment.
This is less big bang and more incremental process improvement. It’s about 100s or 1000s of small improvements applied over time. The time has come to stretch out in innovation labs, to take a serious look at iterative thinking, and failing faster within legal.
120: Diversity Lab's OnRamp Fellowship and Mansfield Rule 2.0
It’s 2019 and the Diversity Lab remains front and center in the conversation on Law Firm and In-house Legal department diversity. Late last summer we sat down with On-Ramp Fellowship Managing Director, Jennifer Winslow and the Mansfield Rule initiative leader, Director, Lisa Kirby. The Mansfield rule supports the diversification of law firm leadership, and the OnRamp Fellowship is the largest re-entry platform for female lawyers and other professionals.
An outcome of Diversity Lab’s 2016, Women in Law Hackathon, the Mansfield Rule has been moving the needle increasing awareness around diverse candidates for leadership and the transparency on who should be considered for leadership. For Mansfield rule 2.0 the program has expanded to include LGBTQ+ leadership candidates as well as measurement of inclusion and engagement in formal pitches. The program which initially launched in 2017 with 44 firms, today has 65 firms participating in Mansfield 2.0. Today, clients are looking for and confirming that they are benefiting from the value of diverse teams/diversity of thought.
The OnRamp program started in 2014 to alleviate concerns specific to work breaks and provide access to experienced lawyers looking for opportunities. Ever since the OnRamp programming has been replenishing leadership pipelines with experienced lawyers alleviating concerns specific to work breaks; while providing access to experienced lawyers looking for opportunities. Those applying for the program are typically unemployed or underemployed doing part-time or contract work. Most are empty nesters with their eyes wide open. Challenges include technology – whether you’ve been out 2 years or 20 the technology has changed. The positives include resilience and problem-solving skills that only come through experience.
Looking back measurement and accountability was a missing element in many diversity programs. By bringing challenges front and center the Diversity Lab has prevented programs from fading or ‘fizzling out’. Today, information sharing; data; and accountability remain a significant part of the Diversity Lab’s success.
119: Creating Conditions for Change
On episode 119 we talk with Mo Zain Ajaz, the 2018 Legal 500 Individual of the Year for Legal Operations. Mo is accountable for operational excellence across National Grid’s Global Legal Function.
With a 25% efficiency goal, the legal operations team at National Grid started by gaining visibility to their external spends. The introduction of an e-billing system provided data for scoping outside work, matter budgeting and stronger alignment with firms. To manage risk and efficiency, National Grid prioritizes legal work; matter profile and risk thresholds underpin decisions specifically what can be done outside at a lower cost without increasing risk.
With the addition of data and standards for outside engagement, the next step involved enabling change with lean design thinking visual management; real time messaging and with the Hines Model for change. The Hines model shows when key conditions for change are present and more importantly when a key condition is missing.
The model can be used to take an audience from current state to future state. One of its tools is 3C. Using 3C stakeholders are asked:
• What are your concerns with the current way of doing things?
• What is the cause of these concerns?
• What would be the counter-measure to this concern?
The 3C model puts a counter-measure in place and asks the stakeholder to test and break the system. The power of the counter-measure is to partner with the stakeholder and deliver the agreed approach for acceptance.
Creating the conditions for change and collaboration with law firms is the role of in-house teams. National Grid holds quarterly Operational Excellence Workshops with their firms to do design thinking and 3C process mapping. These workshops resolve problems, address issues and ensure deliverables for the next quarter and year are met.
Another strong practice is performing a firm technology audit ensuring timesaving technology is implemented on National Grid work. This collaborative effort reviews bottlenecks to ensure technology and its efficiency is implemented and embraced to its full potential.
The next frontier for National Grid is obligations tracking within a contract lifecycle. Data suggestions a 10% savings on procurement spend when post-negotiation obligations are well managed. Working with a broad team of stakeholders in the industry they are looking to partner and take on this challenge. That’s what legal operations and executing change is about solving big hairy problems with your partners in the ecosystem.
Mo Zain Ajaz is the Global Head of Legal Operational Excellence at National Grid. He has responsibility for legal function strategy, operations, embedding performance excellence, technology, as well as panel firm appointment and delivery.
118: Necessity is Bringing Change to In-house Legal, with Walmart’s Alan Bryan
]As part of our Executing Change series, focusing on in-house legal award winners and the changes they’ve implemented within their departments, we welcome back Alan Bryan, Wal-Mart’s Senior Associate General Counsel. Alan was also a guest on LeftFoot Episode 68.
Walmart had an opportunity to change; to centralize, to change firm engagement, and increase legal dollar spend value through leverage - and it worked. Walmart saw immediate value through the implementation of uniform engagement letters with uniform terms and rates; eliminating tens of thousands of agreements including agreements with different terms and rates with the same firm.
Uniform engagement letters set the stage for what was next. In a legal department where the majority of matters are litigation; Walmart turned to data; matter-by-matter RFPs and reverse auctions to create fixed fee and phased fee proposals. Dashboards and access to data remain critical parts of the program today, a process that began with data cleanup and the assembly of an analytics team to manage the data and data access.
From the outset, the Walmart Legal operations team had buy-in from the top and executed a detailed communication program with intended outcomes of the changes they were implementing. Communicating the plan for change and ultimately the impact the programs were having they were surprised by the acceptance and willingness of their outside partners to assist. Becoming more predictive with data, including data from their stores is part of Walmart’s future; specifically the use of artificial intelligence in e-discovery and reporting at the outset of a matter; to save time and money.
We concluded our Executing Change discussion with Alan’s advice to legal professionals on change; move beyond being risk-averse; change your mindset specific to change; be creative, innovative; think strategically, holistically. Today’s legal world is changing, and change is a necessity.
Alan Bryan, Wal-Mart’s Sr. Associate General Counsel, transitioned from law firm partnership to in-house counsel managing litigation for the world’s largest retailer. Today, his office oversees his company’s relationships with all outside counsel measuring performance and cost with a focus on data and the use of time-saving technology. The recipient of an ACC Legal Operations Professional of the Year Award; a 2018 Buying Legal Council Award winner for Process Improvement in corporate procurement; Alan recently accepted one of the 2018 ACC Value Champion Awards for Legal Operations on behalf of his team.
117: Replacing the Abstract with Data
Over the last three years, Matt Galvin has executed change and embraced the use of data in decision making as the Global Vice President for Ethics and Compliance at Anheuser-Busch InBev. Following a significant global acquisition, Matt talks with us about both the volume of compliance matters and the risk factors associated with the newly combined organization.
To fulfill their compliance mission, Matt and his team created a living-breathing model to access risk quickly and educate the business about future risk. Focusing on the data associated with potential compliance risk and the risk of the relationships present as the most efficient way to deal with the hundreds of millions of transactions of the combined organization.
Their initiative started with a pilot where they looked at data in terms of sets and systems and determined where the data sets were that represented the most risk. They would then focus in and filter up and down in search of other risk factors. Pleased with this approach they quickly determined that training someone to do this could take months and would require an audit layer and additional oversight. To address this concern they took the project a step further creating 12 workflows and visuals to attach the model to different systems and situations.
Now armed with data and responding with full transparency to the business, a project that started as a compliance project is now a transparency project. By risk scoring - every transaction, every vendor, every investigation - the business is taking notice where compliance risk is being identified. Access to this information has also allowed for faster decision making. Risk profiles are used to investigate related issues more thoroughly.
In evaluating compliance matters, lawyers typically look at the same facts over and over in the abstract. By accessing multiple data sets, pulling the data from different data sources to build a compliance model, AB-InBev is relying on the truth of the data present. Creating a compliance model based on real data versus the abstract the data sets and systems will get smarter as will our teams.
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