Legal Operations

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September 29, 2023

The Power of Three: Maximizing Success with Law Firms, Corporate Counsel, and Legal Technology

Law & Candor welcomes Michael Bohner, Managing Discovery Attorney at Cleary, and Justin Van Alstyne, Head of Discovery and Information Governance at T-Mobile, to explore the practical aspects of this partnership, including balancing responsibilities, employing technology, and building relationships., In demanding and highly contentious litigation or investigations it can often feel like it‚Äôs every person for themselves without much room for partnership. However, this is a lost opportunity. The relationship between the strong trio of corporate counsel, law firms, and legal technology providers is often an unacknowledged key to overcoming critical challenges. By sharing key information, balancing workloads, and building on each other‚Äôs expertise, these partners can work together to solve modern data challenges and the toughest matters. Law & Candor welcomes Michael Bohner , Managing Discovery Attorney at Cleary, and Justin Van Alstyne , Head of Discovery and Information Governance at T-Mobile, to explore the practical aspects of this partnership, including balancing responsibilities, employing technology, and building relationships. This episode‚Äôs sighing of radical brilliance: ‚Äú Meet Aleph Alpha, Europe‚Äôs Answer to Open AI ,‚Äù Morgan Meaker, Wired, August 30, 2023.   Learn more about the show and our speakers on , rate us wherever you get your podcasts, and join in the conversation on LinkedIn and Twitter . , legal-operations; ediscovery-review, legal operations, eDiscovery, Review, corporate-legal-ops; ediscovery; law-firm; legal-ops; legal; corporate; ediscovery-process
March 29, 2023

Optimizing Review with Your Legal Team, AI, and a Tech-Forward Mindset

Lighthouse‚Äôs Mary Newman, Executive Director of Managed Review, joins the podcast to explore how adopting a technology-forward mindset can provide better results for document review teams.,   To keep up with the big data challenges in modern review, adopting a technology-enabled approach is critical. Modern technology like AI can help case teams defensibly cull datasets and gain unprecedented early insight into their data. But if downstream document review teams are unable to optimize technology within their workflows and review tasks, many of the early benefits gained by technology can quickly be lost. Lighthouse‚Äôs Mary Newman , Executive Director of Managed Review, joins the podcast to explore how document review teams that adopt a technology-forward mindset can provide better review results now and in the future. This episode's sighting of radical brilliance: An A.I. Pioneer on What We Should Really Fear , New York Times,  December 21, 2022.  If you enjoyed the show, learn more about our speakers and subscribe on , rate us wherever you get your podcasts, and join in the conversation on LinkedIn and  Twitter .  , ai-and-analytics; legal-operations; lighting-the-way-for-review; lighting-the-path-to-better-review; lighting-the-path-to-better-ediscovery, review, ai/big data, podcast, managed review, ai-and-analytics, legal-operations, review; ai-big-data; podcast; managed-review
March 25, 2022

Legal’s Balancing Act: Risk, Innovation, and Advancing Strategic Priorities

Megan Ferraro, Associate General Counsel, eDiscovery & Information Governance at Meta, joins Law & Candor to discuss the pivotal role legal is playing in helping innovation thrive while managing risk., Co-hosts Bill Mariano and Rob Hellewell start the show with Sightings of Radical Brilliance. In this episode, they review an article in Reuters exploring lawyer attrition and the ‚Äúgreat resignation.‚Äù Next, their interview with Megan Ferraro , Associate General Counsel, eDiscovery & Information Governance, Meta. They discuss the delicate balance that must be struck between risk and innovation and explore some of the following questions: How did the legal function evolve to play a bigger role in corporate strategy and innovation? What are the broader trends in the ways legal teams are supporting innovation? With businesses growing, adding new technology, and pivoting strategy quickly, what are the most critical risk challenges legal teams face today? How can legal best work with other functions in an organization to ensure strategic priorities are advanced‚Äîthrough new deals or technology, for example‚Äîwhile also balancing the risk factors?  Our co-hosts wrap up the episode with a few key takeaways. If you enjoyed the show, learn more about our speakers and subscribe on the podcast homepage , rate us wherever you get your podcasts, and join in the conversation on Twitter .  Related Links   Blog post: Analytics and Predictive Coding Technology for Corporate Attorneys: Six Use Cases Podcast: Innovating the Legal Operations Model Blog post: What Skills Do Lawyers Need to Excel in a New Era of Business? Blog post: Purchasing AI for eDiscovery: Tips and Best Practices Article: To stem lawyer attrition, law firms must look beyond cash - report , ai-and-analytics; legal-operations; ediscovery-review, podcast, project management, risk management, ai-and-analytics, legal-operations, ediscovery-review,, podcast; project-management; risk-management
December 3, 2020

Reducing Cybersecurity Burdens with a Customized Data Breach Workflow

Bill Mariano and Rob Hellewell kick off episode 3 with another segment of Sightings of Radical Brilliance where they discuss the EU striking down the Privacy Shield and what that means for the...,   Bill Mariano and Rob Hellewell kick off episode 3 with another segment of Sightings of Radical Brilliance where they discuss the EU striking down the Privacy Shield and what that means for the legal realm. Next, Bill and Rob chat with Jeremiah Weasenforth of Orrick about a recent customized data breach workflow that Jeremiah and his team implemented to significantly reduce the burdens of a data breach. In this interview, Jeremiah uncovers the answers to the following questions:  What are the burdens of a major data breach? What impacts do DSARs and the CCPA have on these breaches? How do you get started with a customized workflow? What technology should one use? How do you implement the workflow internally? What key tips are there for those experiencing cybersecurity burdens today? The show concludes with key takeaways from the guest speaker segment. Subscribe to Law & Candor here , rate us on Apple and Stitcher, join in the conversation on Twitter , and discover more about our speakers and the show here . , data-privacy; legal-operations; information-governance, cybersecurity, data-privacy, podcast, data-privacy, legal-operations, information-governance,, cybersecurity; data-privacy; podcast
June 23, 2020

eDiscovery Program Starter Pack: Uncover Key Ways to Build an Effective & Efficient eDiscovery Program

In the fourth episode of season four, co-hosts¬†Bill Mariano and¬†Rob Hellewell discuss the¬†first-ever trial by Zoom, how it all went down, as well as what may expect to see looking forward.¬†Bill...,   In the fourth episode of season four, co-hosts  Bill Mariano and  Rob Hellewell discuss the  first-ever trial by Zoom , how it all went down, as well as what may expect to see looking forward.  Bill and Rob then introduce their guest speaker,  Zander Brandt of Lyft, who shares his experience as a two-time corporate ediscovery ‚Äúfirst employee‚Äù and what it takes to set up an effective and efficient ediscovery program. Zander answers the following questions in this episode: What is that like being the first corporate ediscovery employee? Where do you start in a role like this? What are the key initial steps to take when coming on board? What are things to avoid? Common pitfalls? What are the recommendations/best practices for those looking to implement an efficient ediscovery program today? Our co-hosts wrap up the episode with a few key takeaways. Follow us on  Twitter and discover more about our speakers and the show  here . About Law & Candor Law & Candor is a podcast wholly devoted to pursuing the legal technology revolution. Co-hosts Bill Mariano and Rob Hellewell explore the impacts and possibilities that new technology is creating by streamlining workflows for ediscovery, compliance, and information governance. To learn more about the show and our speakers, click  here .   , ediscovery-review; legal-operations, ediscovery process, legal ops, podcast, ediscovery-review, legal-operations, ediscovery-process; legal-ops; podcast
June 23, 2020

Legal Operations 101: Skills for Success

Co-hosts Bill Mariano and¬†Rob Hellewell kick episode 3 of season 4 off with another riveting¬†Sightings of Radical Brilliance segment where they uncover how¬†biometric data will impact ediscovery...,   Co-hosts Bill Mariano and  Rob Hellewell kick episode 3 of season 4 off with another riveting Sightings of Radical Brilliance segment where they uncover how  biometric data will impact ediscovery and  why it is important to protect this data .  Bill and Rob are accompanied by  Debora Motyka Jones of Lighthouse, who shares what today‚Äôs legal operations landscape looks like as well as the key competencies for those looking to succeed in the field. In this segment, Debora uncovers the answers to the following questions:  What is legal operations? What are today‚Äôs legal operations trends? What are some of the core competencies for departments? What are some of the skills that individuals in the field need to focus on? What are the best practices when it comes to legal operations? The show concludes with key takeaways from the guest speaker segment. Join the conversation on  Twitter and discover more about our speakers and the show  here . Related Links Blog Post: Legal Operations... Is it a Fad or Here to Stay? Blog Post:  Managing Your (Legal Ops) Budget with Five Simple Tips Blog Post:  Budget Busters and How to Avoid Them: Budgeting Tips for Legal Operations Professionals Blog Post: Putting Together an Effective Legal Strategy Session About Law & Candor Law & Candor is a podcast wholly devoted to pursuing the legal technology revolution. Co-hosts Bill Mariano and Rob Hellewell explore the impacts and possibilities that new technology is creating by streamlining workflows for ediscovery, compliance, and information governance. To learn more about the show and our speakers, click  here .   , legal-operations, legal ops, podcast, legal-operations ,, legal-ops; podcast
December 4, 2019

Bridge the Gap: Innovative Ways to Enable eDiscovery Collaboration Between Legal and IT

In the very first episode of season two, co-hosts¬†Bill Mariano and¬†Rob Hellewell, introduce themselves and welcome listeners back for another riveting season of Law & Candor, the¬†podcast wholly...,   In the very first episode of season two, co-hosts  Bill Mariano and  Rob Hellewell , introduce themselves and welcome listeners back for another riveting season of Law & Candor, the podcast wholly devoted to pursuing the legal technology revolution. To kick things off, Bill and Rob begin with, Sightings of Radical Brilliance, the part of the show where they discuss the latest news of noteworthy innovation and acts of sheer genius. In this first episode, they dive into a recent story around  how legal technology helped capture the BTK killer and recap the key legal mistakes of this notorious serial killer. In the guest speaker segment of the show, our co-hosts were joined by  Craig Shaver , Director, eDiscovery Program, Hilton Worldwide, who helped them uncover the answers to the following questions around cross-departmental collaboration: What are the current challenges in play when IT and Legal are out of sync? Why is it critical for these two groups to be in sync? What are some of the risks of these groups being out of alignment? Who is the best person to lead the effort of aligning Legal and IT? Are there other departments within an organization that need to be at the table as well? What are the greatest challenges you‚Äôve seen in achieving better alignment? What are some new ways these two groups can ensure they are in alignment? What are the benefits to an organization of this alignment? In conclusion, our speakers share top takeaways. If you enjoyed the show, join in the conversation on  Twitter and discover more about our speakers and the show  here . About Law & Candor Law & Candor is a podcast wholly devoted to pursuing the legal technology revolution. Co-hosts Bill Mariano and Rob Hellewell explore the impacts and possibilities that new technology is creating by streamlining workflows for ediscovery, compliance, and information governance. To learn more about the show and our speakers, click  here .   , legal-operations; information-governance, ediscovery process, podcast, legal-operations, information-governance, ediscovery-process; podcast
October 3, 2023

Law & Candor Season 12: Five Views of Innovation and Risk Impacting AI, eDiscovery, and Legal

AI, generative AI, antitrust, second requests, HSR, eDiscovery, review, information governance, healthcare, legal operations, law firm, corporate counsel ai-and-analytics; compliance; corporate; corporate-legal-ops; data-analytics; healthcare; healthcare-litigation; innovative-technology; innovation; information-governance; law-firm; mergers; modern-data; phi; pii; podcast; self-service, spectra; regulation; production mitch montoya In a year of unprecedented advancement in AI capabilities and economic uncertainty, legal teams and attorneys have been given both a compelling look into what the future of their work may look like and a sharp picture of today’s challenges. With a critical eye on how to manage and capitalize on these dueling perspectives that define legal’s current landscape, the guests on the new season of Law & Candor offer insights on a range of issues, including generative AI, new M&A guidelines and HSR rules, collaboration data, strategic partnerships, and the future of the industry. Listen for news, AI and technology updates, and best practices from leaders confronting these challenges and charting new paths forward. Episode 1: The Power of Three: Maximizing Success with Law Firms, Corporate Counsel, and Legal Technology Episode 2: What You Need to Know About the New FTC and DOJ HSR Changes Episode 3: Why Your eDiscovery Program and Technology Need Scalability Episode 4: Generative AI and Healthcare: A New Legal Landscape Episode 5: The Great Link Debate and the Future of Cloud Collaboration To keep up with news and updates on the podcast, follow Lighthouse on LinkedIn and Twitter . And check out previous episodes of Law & Candor at For questions regarding this podcast and its content, please reach out to us at
April 27, 2021

Legal Tech Innovation: Gaining Trust in New Technology and Processes

LegalWeek’s April conference took place recently, and as with the sessions earlier this year, the April thought leadership panels touched on many of the struggles we are all facing in the legal technology space. But where the February sessions focused on the post-pandemic future of legal technology and the March sessions focused on getting back to the business of law, the April sessions weaved in a more nuanced theme: obtaining organizational buy-in from stakeholders around legal technology and processes.The need for stakeholder buy-in for any type of legal technology change is imperative. Without it, organizations and law firms stop evolving and become stagnant as more agile competitors onboard better, more efficient processes, tools, and teams. But perhaps more importantly, being unable to obtain stakeholder involvement and approval can also end up leaving the company and law firms open to risk.For an example of the ramifications of failing to obtain the necessary buy-in, let’s take look at the legal technology process that many organizations and law firms have been struggling to implement recently: defensible disposal of legacy data. Without an effective defensible data disposal process and policy, data volumes can balloon out of control – especially in a Cloud environment – meaning that organizations and/or law firms will needlessly waste money storing obsolete data that should have been disposed of previously. But it also can increase risk in several ways. For starters, legacy data may contain personally identifiable information (PII) that organizations may be legally required to dispose of after a specified time period, pursuant to sectorial or jurisdictional data privacy laws. Even if personal data does not fall within the purview of a disposal requirement, keeping it for longer than it is needed for business purposes can still pose a risk should the company or firm holding it suffer a data breach or ransomware attack. Additionally, even obsolete non-personal data can cause confusion, disruption, and increased cost and risk if it winds up subject to a legal hold or swept up in an internal investigation. But despite all this, implementing an effective defensible data disposal program is a challenge for many because it often requires sweeping organizational buy-in, from the highest C-Suite executive to the lowliest employee with access to a company-sponsored collaborative platform.So how can legal teams get the buy-in necessary to implement new legal technology and processes that enable organizations and law firms to compete and evolve? It is tempting to think that buy-in starts with learning to control stakeholders. But attempting to control other teams and individuals will only lead to misalignment, tension, and failed implementation. Instead, gaining stakeholder buy-in actually starts with trust. Stakeholders must trust that whatever you are proposing to implement (whether that is a new technology, a new policy, or a new workflow) will be beneficial to them, to their team, and to the organization as a whole and that implementation is actually feasible. Below I have outlined a few tips for gaining stakeholder trust and buy-in for new legal technology and processes.Identify all the necessary stakeholders. Whether you want to onboard a new legal technology or implement a new legal data policy, like an updated document retention schedule, you will need to understand who the decisions makers are, as well as identify anyone who will be affected by the new tools, processes, or workflow.Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. Once you have identified the stakeholders and all those affected by the planned change, you can start preparing to gain their trust. This means doing all the necessary research and legwork up front so that you are well informed and have a fully developed, practical plan in place to present to those stakeholders. For instance, if you are seeking to onboard advanced AI technology to help streamline your eDiscovery program, you can prepare to gain trust by first talking to peers in the industry, as well as legal technology providers, to find the best technology and pricing options. Once you’ve selected an option, choose a test case and run a proof of concept to validate the effectiveness within your own data.Run the numbers. Once you’ve done the research and are satisfied that the new technology or workflow will be a good fit for your organization, quantify that fit by focusing on the bottom line. How much money will this be able to save your organization or law firm? How much risk can it eliminate and how can you quantify that risk? How can this new process or tool improve efficiency and how much money will that efficiency save? What is at stake if this new technology or process is not implemented and how can you quantify that? What is your plan for how this new tool or process will be funded by the organization or law firm?Stop, Collaborate, and Listen. Once you have identified all relevant stakeholders and collected the data, it is time to gather everyone together to present your research (either individually or via cross-organizational working groups or teams). Note that the order in which you present data to stakeholders will depend on your organization or law firm. For some, it may be best to get management and executives on board first to help drive change further downstream. In others, it may be more impactful to get lower-level teams on board first before presenting to final decision makers. Whichever order you choose, it is imperative to remember to listen and accept feedback once you’ve made your pitch. Remember this process will be iterative. It will require you to be flexible and possibly deviate from your original plan. It may also necessitate going back to the drawing board completely and selecting a different workflow or tool that works better for other groups. It may end up changing your desired implementation timeline. But the key to gaining trust from stakeholders is to get them involved early and listen to their feedback regarding planning, onboarding, and implementation.Retain Trust. Congratulations! Once all stakeholders have come to a consensus and you have achieved buy-in from all necessary decision makers, you are ready to implement and onboard. But that is not the end of this process. After implementation, you will need to protect the trust you have worked so hard to earn. You can do this by ensuring that everyone has the necessary training to effectively use the tool or abide by the new workflow or process. Nothing erodes trust more than incorrect (or non-existent) utilization. Whether you’re seeking to onboard a new eDiscovery platform or you’re rolling out a new legal hold technology, people who are affected by the change will need to understand how to use the technology and/or comply with the program. Set up training programs and then have avenues of ongoing support where people can ask questions and continue to train should they need it.I hope these tips come in handy when you are looking for buy-in from stakeholders around legal technology and processes. To discuss this topic more, feel free to connect with me at ai-and-analytics; ediscovery-review; legal-operationscloud, data-privacy, information-governance, ai-big-data, preservation-and-collection, blog, ai-and-analytics, ediscovery-review, legal-operations,cloud; data-privacy; information-governance; ai-big-data; preservation-and-collection; blogsarah moran
October 6, 2021

What Skills Do Lawyers Need to Excel in a New Era of Business?

The theme at the last CLOC conference was all about how the legal function is going through a tremendous evolution. Businesses are changing rapidly through digital transformation and remote or hybrid work environments while trying to capture the attention of technology saturated consumers. To remain competitive, legal departments must evolve to handle new types of work and constantly advancing processes and technologies, and consider how the legal function impacts the broader organization. They need to do this while also showing that their own department is embracing change, staying up on technology, and becoming more efficient. To do this well, legal department heads and the lawyers and professionals in the department will have to learn, and practice, some new skills: embracing technology, project management, change management, and adaptability. Some good news—recent trends in the legal space are helping departments and professionals facilitate and adapt to these changes. The first is an uptick in legal technologies available to legal departments. Instead of adapting to whatever technology the business makes available to the department, there are technologies built by lawyers for running a legal department. This trend means that lawyers have already started down the path of being more technology-forward. Second, the advent of the legal operations role—putting business discipline and rigor around the functioning of the legal department— has brought more robust project management and change management into many law departments. With these foundational blocks in place, lawyers must evolve their skills to take their department to the next level.The first, and likely most obvious, skill an attorney needs in a rapidly evolving business environment is a firm grasp on existing and emerging technology. There are two important categories of technology to consider—the first is legal technology and the second is broader technology trends. Legal technology not only facilitates the day-to-day functioning of the legal department—with e-billing, contract management, and project intake and workflow software—but also includes more complex categories such as eDiscovery and data management. To learn more about these technologies you can attend CLEs about relevant technologies in your area of practice or attend a legal technology conference. Outside of the legal space, there are also many general technology trends that are important for lawyers to be immersed in, including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, and digital payments and cryptocurrency. Digital transformation is all about changing from a brick and mortar, paper-based business to one that strategically leverages technology, digital tools, and the cloud to do the work. This is important for lawyers because it impacts the way their organizations contract and manage these technologies. Migrating to the cloud also benefits lawyers because it provides new technologies to manage legal departments.[1] Like cloud, AI has the ability to transform how lawyers work (e.g., check out our recent blog post on utilizing chatbots) as well as how their companies work. For both AI and digital transformation, reading and watching videos for IT leaders can help—although made for a different audience, there are lots of resources out there and they can provide the information relevant to lawyers. Finally, the plethora of digital payment methods and the volatility of cryptocurrency will have legal impacts in the future and lawyers should learn to understand the differences.The next set of skills is about project execution and management. As businesses change through digital transformation, it is equally important to transform the way legal departments work. To do that, learning effective business case presentation, project management, and change management are incredibly valuable talents. While diving into a full 30-page business case can sometimes be necessary, focusing time on learning to create an executive summary business case is time better spent for lawyers. You can find resources and templates in many places, including SmartSheet and Asana.There is a whole discipline around project management as well as multiple ways to drive results most effectively. Whether you take an agile approach or a more traditional method, the following skills are necessary: Cross-functional collaboration, including understanding and empathy for other departments, and influencing othersCommunication, including how to communicate effectively with a remote team – a reality that is often the norm in today’s worldTime management and prioritizationLeadership – leading a team and inspiring a team, and keeping team members engaged and focused both in the same office or working remotelyFacilitating a learning mindset across the project and team – ensuring that people are looking out for ways to continuously improve, learning from each step of the project, and iterating on each phase of the projectA couple of good resources for developing these skills include, and LinkedIn Learning courses such as Project Leadership, Project Management Foundations: Communication, and Project Management Tips. Note that this is a discipline that can take years to perfect so focus on getting familiar with the concepts and then look for ways to get real life experience in your business. The best way to master these skills is through practice.While project management focuses on the process where you create a change, change management is a separate set of skills focused on moving people through that change. There are two components of change management lawyers need to know. The first is how to manage their own reaction to change—being adaptable can bring a lot of value to a volatile world.[2] Professor Anne Converse Willkom of Drexel University provides some great ways to work on becoming more adaptable here. The second part of change management is helping others through change. This may be your team or it could be a team impacted by a project you are leading. Harvard Business Review has a whole category of writing dedicated to this area, highlighting the importance of leading through change.There is a lot of information and resources to move through so it’s important to prioritize the areas and skills that will impact your role now and as you move through your career. From there, identify the list of resources you want to access to master those areas then work it in to your schedule. It’s important to budget 2-4 hours a week, at minimum, building your skills in one of these areas. If that seems like a lot, keep in mind that it is only 5-10% of a standard work week.‍[1] You can find more information on what this change is in this article by CIO.[2] It is sometimes hard to judge adaptability because we tend to be surrounded by like-minded thinkers. As such, relying on a third party resource can help. There is a great Forbes article that shares the signs of an adaptable person. Evaluate yourself versus this list and work on areas where you may not be adaptable.ediscovery-review; legal-operationsediscovery-process, blog, project-management, ediscovery-review, legal-operationsediscovery-process; blog; project-managementlighthouse
July 6, 2020

What I Wish I Knew Then - Common Challenges in Building a Legal Operations Department and How to Avoid Them

Legal Operations is a relatively new field and one that is constantly evolving. With that comes lots of new challenges as well as lessons learned around building an effective Legal Operations department. Below are six key takeaways from a recent Illumination Webinar Series webinar, where legal operations veterans discussed common pitfalls in legal operations, how to avoid them, and best practices for the future.Legal Operations is an Evolving Field - Whether you define it as herding cats, the land of misfit toys, or the grey space in legal, one thing is certain - legal operations is a multi-disciplinary evolving field. If you use the membership numbers from the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) as a barometer of the growth of the profession, the increase of professionals is 1000% from 2016 to 2019. The work these professionals are doing varies from organization to organization. However, there are a few core areas that most legal operations departments focus on - ebilling, contract lifecycle management, vendor management, legal workflows, and legal department data and analytics.Change Management is One of the Biggest Challenges - Legal operations is a cross-functional department that is responsible for driving change in legal. As such, it is not a huge surprise that change management and the things that go along with that are big struggles for the function. Gaining executive support, getting enough funding, and identifying key stakeholders are all critical in the first stage of trying to make a change. Additionally, gaining adoption after a change is made can be a challenge as lawyers don’t tend to be early adopters.Understanding the Issue and Putting in Time at the Outset of a Project Can Help You Overcome Challenges - When considering what to solve for, make sure you understand the impact and pervasiveness of each and prioritize the most pervasive and impactful. Then, take the time to truly diagnose the problem. Don’t get distracted by the symptoms. Once you have identified the right problems, make sure you spend plenty of time clarifying all the specifications and understanding where the blockers may be. This will prevent missteps later and allow you to move quickly if you hit any roadblocks. Finally, make sure you get buy in along the way. This starts with buy in from your stakeholders on the specifications. Then, as you start to execute, share out your successes at each step and get stakeholder buy in on those successes. These steps will increase the success of any project you are leading.Knowing your Audience and your Data Can Really Help With Success in This Field – At the onset of any project, identify who you cheerleaders and naysayers are, that way you can identify the challenges that may arise. It is also wise to take a look at what is working and incorporate that into your future state so you don’t inadvertently break something that is going well. Make sure that you are leveraging relevant data to both identify the proposed improvements as well as to show them once achieved. And finally, to create supporters and build relationships across functions, you should look at ways to fill in the gaps in the legal department and offer support on projects. With these tips, your projects should be smoother to roll out.Analytics and AI are the Future - As in much of the world, artificial intelligence and business analytics are a big point of discussion in the legal operations space. This can be anything from analytics on top of a single existing platform all the way to cross-software AI to predict the outcome of litigation. Discussions about and the implementations of these tools are expected to continue in the next several years. Another exciting change for the field is the influx of new talent. As this is a new field, many of the current professionals transferred from another discipline. However, programs are being created to train for this area that will generate an influx of new talent that will move our profession forward. Finally, we expect more defined rules of engagement, both within legal operations but also with other departments in the company. This field is new so those rules have only recently started to form. That should solidify over the next several years.The Impacts of COVID-19 Should Not Drastically Change the Profession - Operationally, we were in a good situation given that legal operations is in the technology space. Departments were easily able to shift to work from home. Additionally, budgetary impacts have been different than any impacts that companies as a whole have felt.Legal operations has evolved significantly and will continue to change as the field matures. legal-operationslegal-ops, blog, legal-operations,legal-ops; bloglighthouse
December 20, 2019

Sitting at the Same Lunch Table: 3 Key Ways to Ensure Legal and IT are in Sync

Legal and IT teams do not necessarily sit at the same lunch table (to use an over-simplified high-school analogy), however, organizations can quickly run into challenges when these teams are not aligned. As corporate data volume and types continue to grow at record speed, it is critical to maintain a technology infrastructure that is not only secure, but also satisfies the legal requirements for managing information. I recently had the privilege of chatting with Craig Shaver, the eDiscovery Program Director at Hilton Worldwide, about the challenges of this electronic data mosaic and innovative strategies to enable collaboration between these groups on the Law and Candor podcast. In this blog, I will review the key challenges we discussed as well as summarize three key solutions to overcoming them in the hopes it will help align your IT and legal teams.To level set, both teams have different priorities. Legal is generally focused on ensuring that the company’s data is protected and retention policies are upheld, while IT is looking for new ways to manage the ever-increasing volume of data to drive efficiency while maintaining budgets. So, when IT moves forward with new technology solutions, large data migrations, moves to the Cloud, or even simple contractual agreements and is not in sync with Legal due to other priorities or lack of communication, items may be missed and can create large downstream issues such as potentially responsive documents going uncollected, being slapped with spoliation charges, or costly and time-consuming rework.Nobody wants unforeseen charges or to loose time and money, so let’s look at some solutions to overcoming these challenges by ensuring collaboration between these two teams. Begin by:Establishing Legal Processes and Policies – Legal needs to first ensure they have effective legal hold processes in place, clear and consistent policies on data retention, as well as defensible deletion policies. Without these in place there is no formal process.Ensuring Participation on Both Sides – It is important to identify and designate a legal and IT liaison to sit on various steering committees and be a part of any technology decisions, migration projects, etc. In some larger, global organizations, you may want at least two or three people from each group involved to attend these meetings, as it can be a lot of work and require travel. Legal will understand the impact on the overall eDiscovery process and can review service-level agreements and SOWs as well.Continuing the Ongoing Partnership and Communication – Post project, it is important to continue to meet regularly (weekly or monthly) with key stakeholders to continue to communicate around upcoming migrations, technology changes, etc., as well as build trust and a further develop relationships. Legal can help IT enforce their deployment and security policies with other departments within the company as well as ensure GDPR compliance and other factors are considered when looking at new products.Enacting these three solutions will help you ensure your teams stay in sync. When legal and IT sit at the same lunch table and stay in communication, organizations are more likely to experience seamless or near-seamless integration of processes, better understand project timelines, reduce friction between very busy teams, maintain a shared understanding each other’s workloads and processes, as well as gain trust amongst the teams, which helps with future projects and getting folks to support one another.To discuss this topic more, reach out to me at; information-governance; data-privacygdpr, ediscovery-process, blog, legal-operations, information-governance, data-privacy,gdpr; ediscovery-process; blogbill mariano
July 2, 2021

Productizing Your Corporate Legal Department’s Services: Internally Marketing Your Solutions

In my last two blogs, I discussed how your legal department can productize services to become more efficient as well as shared some tips for how to determine the legal needs within your organization. Now that you know the added benefits and understand the legal needs, the natural next step is to determine what legal service “products” to offer, as well as any gaps. However, if nobody knows what these repeatable solutions are, what good are they? This is where creating an internal marketing plan to get the word out about your department’s legal services is critically important. In this blog, we’ll talk about how to do that by answering who, what, when, where, and why.Who?When you create your internal plan, the first thing you need to do is understand who you are marketing to. The easiest way to do this is to create some simple “personas.” You can easily do this based on the interviews you conducted as part of your earlier search. You should build a persona for each distinct type of user coming to you – typically this aligns with internal departments. In detailing each persona, you should include the following:Typical day-to-day work of your personaTypical interaction with legalTop of mind issues/challengesOther notesWhat?Next, you will need to decide what you are going to market to these personas (i.e repeatable workflows). Common ones in the legal arena are contract, litigation, HR investigation, and patent workflows. Once you have the workflows applicable to your company identified, detail the features of each workflow. For example, it is automated; has six common template documents, a clause library, and contract status; and leverages existing company technology.Once you have your personas, workflows, and features, you’re ready to create a positioning document. You should create one document for every problem/solution set (i.e. workflow). This will form the basis of how you share the information with others. The goal of this document is to position your solution in a way that resonates with the internal users. Below is a format that I find helpful to follow and I have inserted an example based on a contract workflow.PROBLEM: There is a problem in the company today. Contract negotiations are long, cumbersome, and not transparent. This can delay revenue opportunities. In addition, final contracts are difficult to locate and manage.SOLUTION: The ideal solution to this problem is an easy-to-use process, with some contracts being able to avoid legal review. The solution would allow easy access to status for interested parties and would allow those, or other, interested parties to access the contractual information at a later date.PRIMARY MESSAGE (SHORT - 1 SENTENCE): The Corporate Legal Department delivers a business-driven model for negotiating and managing contracts that accelerates, not hinders, company growth.SERVICE DESCRIPTION (2-3 SENTENCES): By leveraging an intake form, employees are directed to a self-service, spectra portal for template contracts or put in touch with an attorney for more complex matters. The status of their request, as well as information about all finalized contracts, is displayed in our JIRA system giving users full access to contract status as well as important contractual data of finalized contracts.HIGHLIGHTS (THESE SHOULD BE PROBLEM-ORIENTED FEATURES):Reduces contract turnaround by leveraging templated contracts and clausesAllows users access to contract status anytime, anywhereNo new systems (i.e. leverages existing company tools)Etc.The above will create a lot of different worksheets and information. Since I like to keep things a little simpler, I also create a cliff notes version of this to show the all-up view of your corporate legal department’s services.Once you have completed your positioning, don’t be afraid to run the messaging by some of the people you interviewed. You want to make sure that it is clear how legal will be helping them get their work done. I would suggest selecting people who are friendly to your department and who you have a good working relationship with since you are running draft information by them and not a final product.Where, When, and Why?Third, you need to think about where, when, and why you are getting the message out. The goal is to get it out wherever your users are, often, and in a way that they like to consume the information. At a minimum, I would suggest doing a launch of the updated services and including information about that launch on:The company wiki page/internal siteAny internal ticketing toolA company newsletter (or a company meeting if appropriate)Any onboarding materials/presentations your company does for new hiresOr even a “roadshow,” where you present to each department within your organization what services the legal team offersDuring any presentation, it is always helpful to inject some fun into the presentation. I have heard of some legal departments doing humorous videos or skits to capture the attention of their employees. Partner with your internal marketing team, as they may have some great suggestions on how you can get the word out.Finally, don’t forget about post-launch messaging. Though you may see an uptick in users after a launch, some people will have missed the information the first time around or will have forgotten it by the time they get to an issue that they want to bring to legal. To that end, make sure you have a plan for continued marketing. I like to showcase successes in follow-up marketing (e.g. a contract turnaround case study showing the reduced times or some metrics on impact). This information can be shared in an employee newsletter or as a quick email to leaders asking them to share it in their department meetings.This is quite a robust process and you should expect it will take several weeks, or even months, to complete. You will also likely continue to refine this marketing plan as you address gaps by adding services and gathering feedback. The benefit of going through this process is that it brings clarity to what legal does, brings efficiency by advertising repeatable workflows, and gives everyone in legal visibility into the challenges in the business and how legal addresses, blog, legal-operations,legal-ops; bloglighthouse
July 6, 2021

Productizing Your Corporate Legal Department’s Services: Making Build vs. Buy vs. Outsourcing Decisions

For years, general counsel have weighed the pros and cons of doing a task internally versus sending the work to outside counsel – this is not a new dichotomy. What is newer, however, is the proliferation of technology available for legal and the business savvy now being applied to internal legal departments. This has opened up more choices for legal departments. First, you have to figure out whether you can apply technology, then whether you should build or buy that technology, and finally if you should outsource any portion of the process.Before you start down the path of buy vs. build vs. outsource, I would recommend assessing your department’s offerings. In the earlier parts of this series, I outline how you can do that. Once you understand your services and your gaps, you can better determine where you may need to apply build vs. buy decisions. Whether you are a general counsel or a legal operations professional, this blog will outline four key aspects to include in your framework as you make these decisions.1. Problem/Solution ListStart with a list of services your company needs and possible solutions. If you followed the productization process, you will have a good list. If you have not yet done this, you can at least jot down a list of your company’s legal needs, how pervasive and urgent they are, whether they further the company strategy, as well as any potential solutions.Next, order that list from most pervasive to least pervasive. Where there is a tie, look to the problem’s relationship to company strategy.Next, work through all of the items in box A. You want to be able to answer the following questions:Is there an existing solution?Is there a software solution that may apply?What are the costs/benefits of all possible solutions?Is there typically urgency around the request?All other things being equal, do we have the expertise to handle this in house?If you have gaps in A, B, or C, I would recommend addressing those before process improvement items.2. Cost-Benefit AnalysisNext, for any change (either addressing a gap or a process improvement) you should do a cost-benefit/return on investment analysis. Note that if you are just trying to get a sense of which problem on your list to address, you can do a high-level analysis by categorizing the solutions into low, medium, or high financial impact. If, however, you are getting to the point of suggesting a change internally and asking for budget, you want to do a much more in-depth quantitative analysis. On the benefit side, you want to consider any revenue acceleration for the company (e.g., customers’ revenue hits a quarter earlier) as well as costs reduced and avoided (e.g. outside counsel fees). If there are other quantifiable benefits, you should include them as well. On the expense side, make sure to consider licensing, annual maintenance, user fees, implementation, infrastructure, training, hourly support/expert charges, and any ongoing costs. You should predict these benefits and costs for the next 3 years, as that is a common period to see whether there is a return on your investment. You can also prepare a version of this document showing the same cost/benefit of building the solution internally as well as outsourcing it to outside counsel.3. Additional Factors: Urgency and ExpertiseOnce you have the cost-benefit analysis for the various solutions, you usually have a preferred direction. However, don’t forget to account for time and expertise. You should then consider how urgent the requests are. The more urgent a request, the more likely it should be handled by technology or outsourced, as those solutions typically can bring more resources to bear. You should then consider expertise. More specifically, does one need specific knowledge about the company to solve this problem or will there be a lot of need to liaise internally? If so, the solution should likely stay with the internal corporate legal department. Conversely, does this require niche expertise and is it better handled by an outside counsel with that expertise? Make notes of these considerations with your cost-benefit analysis, as these factors can sway a decision in one direction or another.4. Decision TimeUltimately, making these decisions is more of an art than a science. They are also decisions that can and should be revisited as things change in your business and legal department. The above should give you the right information to make an informed decision. Ultimately, you will want to share your decision with others and get input before finalizing a direction.By following the productization process, orienting your solutions towards your customers, streamlining how you deliver services, and applying the right sets of resources through build versus buy decisions, your legal department will operate more efficiently. legal-operationslegal-ops, blog, legal-operations,legal-ops; bloglighthouse
June 28, 2021

Productizing Your Corporate Legal Department’s Services: Understanding the Needs of the Business

Many law departments are reactionary. Someone comes to legal with a “legal” question and they help that person. Although this makes a lot of sense, as legal is a support department, it makes it very difficult to thematically explain the value legal is driving as well as understand the work the department is doing. As legal operations matures and legal departments look to be more efficient, productizing the services in the department is a natural progression. This approach was a central discussion at the 2021 CLOC conference and the subject of this blog series. In order to productize something effectively, however, you need a very good understanding of your customer and prospective customers’ needs. In this article, I will give you an overview of how to get that.A central theme in product management is building resonators – products that resonate with the buyers. You may have the best idea but, if it doesn’t meet a pervasive market need, nobody will buy it. There are many great examples of products that failed and dozens of lessons we can learn from those failures. Most of the lessons come back to misunderstanding the customer's need and the nature of that need. For example, people may say they want a better mousetrap but if you don’t ask how much they would pay for that mousetrap, whether they would replace any current mousetraps with a better one, and whether it matters if the new mousetrap gives off an odor of chemicals, you can see how you might not make a best seller. To give an example in the legal services space, in my first general counsel role, I heard from many people how it was frustrating that they could never find contracts when they needed them. I immediately set upon a mission to create a contracts database. After investing a lot of time, we had a wonderfully organized database, and the only person who ever used it was the legal team. So what happened to all the frustrated employees from other departments? It turns out I didn’t ask them how often they needed to look up contracts and whether that need was part of another legal request (meaning that legal was the one actually looking up the contract anyway). In the end, the contract database was extremely helpful for the legal department but I could have saved myself the time of making it self-service, spectra and figuring out permissions for different users had I asked some questions upfront. To avoid the same fate, there are four principles you can use when asking your company about its legal needs.1. Don’t rely on the users to define the needs. Instead, be curious about their day-to-day and in that curiosity, you will be able to see the legal needs. The theory is this: if you ask someone what they need from legal, they will overlay their belief system about what legal should provide before they answer. Instead, when you ask them about their role, their goals, how they are measured, and what their biggest challenges are, you are more likely to be able to understand them and see where legal may be able to help.2. Create a template interview form and use it religiously with each person.When you do 10-15 interviews, you want to be able to discern themes and compare interviews. When multiple people are conducting interviews, you want to be sure you are all hitting the same topics. This is much easier to do when you start from a template. For a 30-minute interview, I would suggest 3-5 template questions. Always get background information before the interview starts including their name, title, department, and contact information. Put this information at the top of your interview summary. Do not include this in your 3-5 questions. Having this information clearly labeled and available allows you to easily follow up later. Next, move on to background and devote 2-3 questions to this area including what are their main goals for the year, how is their department measured, what are their biggest pain points. Finally, go on to any specific areas you may want to ask about. For example, you may want to know how they have used the legal department in the past, how much they interact with overseas colleagues, etc. Here is a list of common questions:What are your department’s goals for the year?How is your department measured?What are your biggest roadblocks in achieving your goals?What are your biggest roadblocks in getting your job done?If you had a magic wand and could change one thing about your job, what would it be?What are your most common needs outside your department?What is your perception of what the legal department does?What kinds of things have you come to legal for?3. Interview a diverse group. It may seem obvious that you need a good sample size, however, you will be surprised at how varied the needs are at different levels and across different departments. If you are only interviewing one person to represent a specific level or department, you should ask them “how representative do you think your pain points/goals are of the department?” This will give you a good idea of whether you can rely on this person’s interview as representative of the department or whether you will have to do some follow-up interviews with others.4. Always ask follow-up questions.The guidance for limiting your template to 3-5 questions above ensures you have time for follow up on each response. More specifically, you want to be sure you are really understanding the responses and quantifying the level and frequency of any relevant pain points. I would set a goal to ask 2 follow-up questions for every first response. For example, if your first question is “what are your goals for 2021?” then you should expect to ask 2 follow-up questions after your interviewee responds. If at any point the person you are interviewing mentions a challenge that you think legal can help to solve, this is your queue to follow up around the pain and pervasiveness. Here are some questions you can ask to get into how big a problem they are facing:How often do you run into this roadblock: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly?When you run into this roadblock, how much time do you spend resolving it: 1-2 hours, 2-5 hours, 5-10 hours, 10+ hours?Does this roadblock impact multiple people? If so, how many?Does this roadblock (or a stoppage in you moving towards your goals) impact other departments?Are there workarounds for this roadblock? If so, how cumbersome are they on a scale of 1-5?If you had to reach out to another department and work with someone to remove this roadblock each time it came up, would you do that or would you continue with the workaround?How long would you wait for an outside resource to help before you proceed with your current workaround?Does the challenge have an impact on revenue?Whether you are a general counsel just getting to know your organization, a legal operations professional tasked with making your department more efficient, or a lawyer who is interested in ensuring you are providing great services, the above should give you a good place to start to understand your customer. Once you understand your customer, you’re able to provide great resonating services and position your existing solutions. legal-operationslegal-ops, blog, legal-operations,legal-ops; bloglighthouse
June 21, 2021

Productizing Your Corporate Legal Department’s Services: Getting Started

The 2021 CLOC conference focused a lot on applying product principles to legal services. General Counsel are often in the position of having to show the value of their team’s services and why, as a cost center, it makes sense to continue to grow their department or to buy technology to support their department. In addition to showing that value, there is pressure to be more efficient while providing excellent customer services. By productizing services, you can provide repeatable, measurable solutions that address the needs above. There is also the great benefit of being connected to your client’s needs by providing the services that match the most pervasive and urgent needs. However, if you don’t have a background in product management, how does one go about productizing legal services, and what does that even mean? As someone who is Pragmatic Marketing Certified through the Pragmatic Institute, I am here to help. This blog, and the blog series to follow, will show you how to get started, interview people internally to understand the needs, position your existing solutions internally, and make build vs. buy vs. outsourcing decisions. Let’s start with a high-level overview of where to begin.What does productizing legal services mean? Productizing your legal services focuses on creating solutions that apply to multiple customers in a repeatable way. This means that you first have to understand your customers’ problems by listening, asking, and observing. It then means that you create several repeatable processes to address those problems. Finally, it means you market those solutions internally and show how they bring value to the business. Taking it one step further, it also means that you leverage technology to support these services and continue to develop and improve the services based on feedback.So how does one go about creating these solutions inside a legal team? The first step is all about understanding the needs of the business. You can look internally at the requests the legal department receives to get an understanding of what the business is coming to the legal department for. Next, you want to speak to leaders from different groups in the business to understand what legal needs exist that are not coming into the legal department but should be addressed. Which leaders to speak to will depend a bit on your organization but I would recommend connecting with the following, at minimum: sales, finance, engineering (or product) as well as regional leaders in any key regions. More on this to come in my next blog on interviewing people internally to understand the organization’s needs.Once you have the information, it is helpful to create a list. I like to use the format below:Problems to SolveOnce you have a pretty solid list, you should brainstorm high-level recommended solutions (not the detailed how). This will include things like solving a certain need through documentation (e.g. a “how-to guide” or a template contract). It may include things like facilitating the intake of legal requests or facilitating access to contract information. Once you have your list of potential solutions, there are two next steps. For the set of existing solutions, you should group those into categories and make sure that you are adequately marketing and reporting on those (more on this in a future post). For the set of solutions that are future state, identify how you are going to address this need. When looking at the gaps, I like to categorize the gaps in the following ways so I can understand the budget impact and the division of work.Note that urgency speaks to how quickly the need needs to be solved overall and not necessarily the urgency of a specific request. For example, it speaks to how urgently people need a contract database as opposed to how quickly someone needs information about a specific contract. Pervasiveness addresses how many internal departments/employees have this need. Is it centered around just a small group within one department or is it a need expressed by multiple departments? The relationship to the company strategy should be focused on how much this need moves the business forward. Does it facilitate the company’s #1 strategy? When you complete this list, I recommend grouping it into like needs. If there are overlapping needs, you may want to create a consolidated item but make sure you capture the pervasiveness of it.Recommendations for Filling The GapsBy going through the above process you will have a good understanding of the various needs and solutions in your organization. In the next blog in the series, I will overview how to interview people internally to understand the organization’s, blog, legal-operations,legal-ops; bloglighthouse
June 3, 2021

Managed Services for Law Firms: The Six Pillars of a Successful Managed Service Relationship

By Steven L. Clark, E-Discovery and Litigation Support Director, Dentons and John Del Piero, Vice President, LighthouseWhether your firm is just beginning to consider a move to a managed service eDiscovery model or you’re a managed service veteran, it is imperative to understand what makes this type of eDiscovery program model successful. After all, if you don’t know how to measure success, it will be difficult to know what to look for when selecting a provider, and equally as hard to monitor the quality of the services provided once you have selected one.However, measuring success can be complex. There are many different metrics that could be used to measure success and each may be of a varying level of importance to different firm stakeholders, as the priorities of these stakeholders will be determined by their particular role and focus. However, a successful managed service partnership can be based on a foundation of six core pillars. These pillars can be used as guideposts when evaluating whether a managed service partner will truly add value to a law firm’s eDiscovery process.Pillar 1: Access to Best-of-Breed Technology and Teams of Experts to Help Leverage ItA managed service partnership should always make a law firm (and its clients) feel like the best eDiscovery technology is right at their fingertips. But more than that, a successful managed service relationship should enable a law firm to stay technologically agile, while lowering technology costs.For example, if an eDiscovery tool or platform becomes obsolete or outdated, the firm’s managed service partner should be able to quickly move the firm to better technology, with little cost to the firm. In other words, in a successful managed service partnership, gone are the days where a litigation support team was stuck using an obsolete platform simply because the law firm purchased an enterprise license for that technology. Rather, the managed service partner should bear the cost burden of leveraging continuously evolving technology because the partner can easily spread that technological risk across its client base. In assuming this burden, the managed services partner ultimately provides law firms much greater flexibility in terms of leveraging the most appropriate technology to meet their clients’ needs.In addition to simply providing access to the best technology, a successful managed service partnership should also provide teams of experts who are wholly dedicated to helping law firms leverage that technology for optimal impact. These experts should be continuously vetting new applications and technology upgrades, enabling litigation support teams to stay up to date on evolving applications and tools. These teams will also be able to create and test customized workflows that enable law firms to handle how data flows through technically robust collaborative platforms like Microsoft Teams or Slack, as well as keep firms apprised of any updates to cloud-based platforms that may affect existing eDiscovery workflows.This type of devoted technological expertise and guidance can provide firms a significant competitive boost, as internal litigation support teams rarely have the resources available to devote staff solely to testing new technology and building customized workflows.Pillar 2: A Scalable and More Diversified eDiscovery Team In comparison to a traditional law firm litigation support team which, naturally, is somewhat static in size, a successful managed service relationship allows law firm teams to quickly and seamlessly scale up or down, depending on case needs. For example, when a large matter comes in, a managed service provider should have the ability to quickly pull a project manager in to help manage the case while the internal law firm team still retains day-to-day control of the matter. This alleviates the firm from having to choose between hiring additional staff (only to be faced with too big of a team once the larger matter ends) or outsourcing the case to an external, inflexible eDiscovery provider (where the firm may be unable to retain full control of the matter and will undoubtedly have to adapt to different processes and workflows).A managed service partner’s bench should also be deep, allowing a law firm to pull from a diverse pool of expertise. Whether the law firm needs a review workflow expert or a processing expert, an analytics expert or a migration and normalization expert, a quality managed service provider should be able to swiftly provide someone who knows the teams involved and has the qualifications and technological background to ensure that all stakeholders trust their expertise and guidance.Pillar 3: eDiscovery Expertise 24/7/365A managed service provider should not only provide law firms with top-notch eDiscovery expertise but also provide access to that expertise whenever it is needed. Unfortunately, most litigation support teams are all too familiar with the fact that eDiscovery is almost never a 9 to 5 job. The nature of litigation today means that a Monday production deadline involving a terabyte of data may be doled out by a judge on a Friday morning, or that data for a pressing production may arrive at 9:00 p.m. The list of eDiscovery off-hour emergencies is somewhat endless.Unfortunately, most internal litigation support teams at law firms are located in one geographic area (and therefore, one time zone), meaning that even when internal teams have the required expertise, they may not have those resources available when they’re needed.A quality managed service partner, however, will be able to provide resources whenever they are needed because it can structure its hiring and team assignments with team members located across multiple time zones. Access to full-time eDiscovery expertise and coverage enables law firms to swiftly handle any eDiscovery task with ease, with no permanent increase in staffing overhead.Pillar 4: Less Talent Acquisition RiskA successful managed service relationship should also significantly lower law firm risk related to talent acquisition and training. While hiring in today’s job climate may seem like a simple task, the cost of sufficiently vetting candidates and then providing the appropriate training can be incredibly time consuming and expensive.If law firm vetting misses a candidate red flag or even if a candidate just needs more training than expected, staffing costs and time expenses can skyrocket even further. For example, the task of having to substantially re-train a new hire from the ground up can take up the valuable time of other internal experts. In this way, even the most routine hire can often slow productivity and lower the morale of the entire internal team (at least in the short term) until the hire can be fully integrated into the department’s daily workflow.In a successful managed service relationship, however, the law firm can transfer those types of hiring and training risks directly to the provider. The managed service provider is already continuously evaluating, vetting, and training talent across different geographies in order to hire the best eDiscovery experts. Law firms can simply reap the benefit of this process by partnering with the service provider and leveraging that talent once the vetting and training process has been completed.Pillar 5: Lower Staffing Overhead To put it simply, all of the above means that moving to a managed service model should allow a law firm to significantly lower its overhead costs related to staffing and management. In addition to taking on the hiring risks, a managed service provider should also take on much of the overhead related to maintaining staff. From payroll, to benefits, to overtime costs, a quality managed service provider handles those costs and time expenses for their own on-staff experts, leaving the law firm free to reap the benefits of on-demand expertise without the staffing overhead costs.Pillar 6: Better Billing MechanicsMost law firms are not set up to bill eDiscovery services efficiently. eDiscovery billing has evolved over the last few years, and a quality managed service provider should be following suit and offering simplified, predictable cost models in order for law firms to pass that predictability on to their clients. This kind of simplified pricing enables all parties to understand exactly how much they are going to spend for the eDiscovery services provided. However, this billing structure differs significantly from the way traditional legal work is billed out, and most law firms’ billing infrastructures have not evolved to offer the same level of predictability or cost certainty. This is where a quality managed service provider can provide another benefit, by heavily investing its own resources into building out automated reporting, ticketing, and billing systems that can generate proformas and integrate into the firm’s existing billing systems.If a managed service provider can take care of these billing tasks, law firm teams can spend more time in furtherance of client work, rather than devoting resources into eDiscovery billing metrics and workarounds.SummaryAccess to and expertise in appropriate technology, flexible staffing models, lower overhead, and simplified pricing are the six pillars of a successful managed service partnership in a law firm setting. When all six of these pillars are in place, the managed service partnership will result in more satisfied internal and external law firm customers and an increasing caseload year after year. For more information or to discuss this topic, reach out to us at; ediscovery-reviewmanaged-services, blog, law-firm, legal-operations, ediscovery-reviewmanaged-services; blog; law-firmlighthouse
May 12, 2020

Managing Your (Legal Ops) Budget with Five Simple Tips

Have you created, or were handed, a budget but you don’t know where to start? Or, have you managed a budget for a while but want some other perspectives on what to look for throughout the year? Well this is the post for you. As I mentioned in my prior post about creating budgets, I have managed budgets for a long time in legal, operations, and other departments, as well as gotten input on this topic from many peers. Below you will find five of my top tips.Align team goals with budget - The success of your budget increases if everyone is working toward the common goal of staying within that budget. As such, when creating your team goals as well as when creating an individual team member’s goals, they should all support what you have put in your budget. There are a number of ways to do this. First, you could put a specific goal – e.g., come within 5% of budget – in their personal goals. You could also tie a part of an employee’s bonus to the department meeting its budget. Second, you could make the goals a bit more indirect by having each employee have a goal around coming up with cost-savings measures. Finally, you could be even less direct by just ensuring that nobody has goals related to projects that do not have any budget and that all funded projects do have owners. I use all three of these concepts in combination to set up the department for budget success.Operationalize your budget review - Reviewing your spend (actuals) against your budget on a monthly basis is critical to being able to stay on budget. You should involve your team in these budget reviews. The agenda should include an update on the prior month’s spend, a discussion of anything unusual from the prior month, and a discussion about any expectations for the coming month. Be open during these discussions and encourage people to speak up. You want to foster a positive environment where people feel comfortable bringing up anything that will impact the budget. Every team member should understand how their work impacts the budget. Any team member heading up a particular project should understand the budget of that project and where they are vis-à-vis budget. Transparency of this information will allow people to make well-informed decisions.Constantly look for ways to get better – automation and different suppliers - Even if you are at or under budget, it is important to continuously look for ways to get more efficient with resources. This can be done in conjunction with monthly budget reviews as your team will likely have some great suggestions. There are three main questions I ask:What can be automated? What can be outsourced?Are there opportunities to get better pricing from any outsourced providers (including technology)?Of these three, I lean towards automation because of the dramatic cost savings over time, but also the additional benefits. Automation will typically have an initial cost to fund the development effort. However, that initial investment can eliminate certain resources for a long period, sometimes even bringing ongoing costs to $0. Automation also can provide information, such as auditing and data, that were not available with manual methods. For example, implementing an e-billing solution not only saves on the people cost for reviewing bills, but also gives better visibility into where the money is being spent, leading to new areas for savings.Always have a plan B and C - Things change as the year goes on – revenue may not come in as expected, there could be a global pandemic that impacts your business, or you could decide to fund a higher priority business item – and you may be asked to change or reduce your budget. This can be frustrating but you should be ready for unexpected changes. The first thing you can do to be ready is to know what you will cut first, second, and third, etc. When you have a prioritized list, you can respond to any budget cuts or freezes pretty quickly. Second, you should have alternative, cheaper ways to still move forward on your top legal department strategy or strategies. For example, instead of hiring a full-time employee to manage and implement your e-billing system, perhaps you can hire a temporary employee, consultant, or an intern to move you forward on the research and design phases. Also consider whether you can move forward with any projects in phases or by doing a scaled back proof of concept first. For example, you could procure fewer licenses of your e-billing system and implement it for only 10% of matters (e.g., litigations over $1M). Both of these moves will allow you to still advance your project, but for a lower cost. The proof of concept also has the added benefit of allowing you to demonstrate the value of the project to the business, thereby making any associated budget requests for a full-scale implementation easier to get approved.Communicate changes early - A budget is an estimate based on your knowledge at one point in time. It won’t be perfect and you will have to make changes. Make sure you understand the process to communicate those changes. As soon as you have knowledge of anything that will be significantly under or over budget, which you will likely get from your monthly budget review, make sure to communicate that. If it is something that will put you over budget, make sure to have the details about why the spend is necessary, what alternative options you have looked into, and what benefits will come to the business from this spend. The threshold for when to communicate these changes differs at each organization so be sure to work with your partners in the finance organization to understand what is expected at your, legal-ops, blog, legal-operations,ediscovery-process; legal-ops; bloglighthouse
December 8, 2020

Legal Tech Trends from 2020 and How to Prepare for 2021

Legal tech was no match for 2020. Everyone’s least favorite year wreaked havoc on almost every aspect of the industry, from data privacy upheavals to a complete change in the way employees work and collaborate with data.With the shift to a remote work environment by most organizations in the early spring of 2020, we saw an acceleration of the already growing trend of cloud-based collaboration and video-conferencing tools in workplaces. This in turn, means we are seeing an increase in eDiscovery and compliance challenges related to data generated from those tools – challenges, for example, like collecting and preserving modern attachments and chats that generate from tools like Microsoft Teams, as well compliance challenges around regulating employee use of those types of tools.However, while collaboration tools can pose challenges for legal and compliance teams, the use of these types of tools certainly did help employees continue to work and communicate during the pandemic – perhaps even better, in some cases, than when everyone was working from traditional offices. Collaboration tools were extremely helpful, for example, in facilitating communication between legal and IT teams in a remote work environment, which proved increasingly important as the year went on. The irony here is that with all the data challenges these types of tools pose for legal and IT teams, they are increasingly necessary to keep those two departments working together at the same virtual table in a remote environment. With all these new sources and ways to transfer data, no recap of 2020 would be complete without mentioning the drastic changes to data privacy regulations that happened throughout the year. From the passing of new California data privacy laws to the invalidation of the EU-US privacy shield by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) this past summer, companies and law firms are grappling with an ever-increasing tangle of regional-specific data privacy laws that all come with their own set of severe monetary penalties if violated. How to Prepare for 2021The key-takeaway here, sadly, seems to be that 2020 problems won’t be going away in 2021. The industry is going to continue to rapidly evolve, and organizations will need to be prepared for that.Organizations will need to continue to stay on top of data privacy regulations, as well as understand how their own data (or their client’s data) is stored, transferred, used, and disposed of.Remote working isn’t going to disappear. In fact, most organizations appear to be heading to a “hybrid” model, where employees split time working from home, from the office, and from cafes or other locations. Organizations should prepare for the challenges that may pose within compliance and eDiscovery spaces.Remote working will bring about a change in employee recruiting within the legal tech industry, as employers realize they don’t have to focus talent searches within individual locations. Organizations should balance the flexibility of being able to expand their search for the best talent vs. their need to have employees in the same place at the same time.Prepare for an increase in litigation and a surge in eDiscovery workload as courts open back up and COVID-related litigation makes its way to discovery phases over the next few months.AI and advanced analytics will become increasingly important as data continues to explode. Watch for new advances that can make document review more manageable.With continuing proliferation of data, organizations should focus on their information governance programs to keep data (and costs) in check.To discuss this topic further, please feel free to reach out to me at ai-and-analytics; ediscovery-review; legal-operationscloud, analytics, emerging-data-sources, data-privacy, ai-big-data, blog, ai-and-analytics, ediscovery-review, legal-operations,cloud; analytics; emerging-data-sources; data-privacy; ai-big-data; blogsarah moran
July 17, 2020

Leveraging Microsoft 365 to Reduce Your eDiscovery Spend

In the early days of electronic discovery, technologies that legal teams utilized were researched and procured by specialists independent of information technology teams. Getting IT, legal, compliance, records managers, and other stakeholders to come together to discuss and strategize as a team was almost impossible. The move to the Cloud is changing that dynamic, as corporations move to address data challenges including eDiscovery, information governance, data privacy, and cybersecurity, in a more holistic fashion. When a corporation leverages Microsoft 365 (M365), they have procured a technology that not only meets their data storage requirements but provides eDiscovery, privacy, data governance, and cybersecurity features as well.With the upside that a single platform can provide, there are also challenges including the continued growth in data and new data types that M365 presents. Most eDiscovery professionals are still working to understand how to leverage the functionality in M365 and how to incorporate it into their existing program. Teams usage, for example, has risen with the addition of 31 million new users in one month when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit. Based on that statistic, it is clear that Teams is new to many professionals and eDiscovery teams need to understand how to deal with Teams data in discovery.eDiscovery features in M365 vary based on licensing, but can include data culling, data processing, and even some high-level review. The functionality in no way is an end-to-end solution for discovery. It can achieve some basic needs and other technologies are still required to address limitations in the platform.M365 is also an incredibly dynamic program. It is a challenge to track modifications and updates to the system. Organizations need to invest in personnel to test their M365 environment proactively to identify potential issues that could occur in the discovery process, understand limitations, and capture benchmarking data on the time and effort certain tasks can take in the system. This information should be discussed with legal teams, as it can impact their discovery negotiations and should be considered for proportionality assessments. It’s vitally important to train internal and external legal teams on the capabilities and the limitations of the technologies.Keeping pace with M365 often requires multiple resources. Consider having a dedicated team to test the new tools and ensure any new updates get incorporated back into your workflows. Reach out to your peers at other organizations to learn from their experiences with the tool. Working with service providers who have deep expertise in the tool and the roadmap is extremely beneficial. Microsoft is open to receiving feedback on your experiences outside of simply support tickets. In fact, there is a formal design change request option available to M365 users. Contact your Microsoft representative to learn more about that alternative.When it comes to leveraging M365 for eDiscovery, keep these key takeaways in mind:The explosion of data, new technology, and cybersecurity risks have all led to a continual evolution of the M365 tool.Staying up to date with these continuous evolutions can be a challenge, be sure to (1) have dedicated resources to test new capabilities and report back; and (2) ensure these new updates get incorporated into training and workflow documentation.Train both your internal and external teams on your M365 needs.Collaborate with your various partners (i.e. providers, third-party vendors, outside counsel, etc.).To discuss this topic further, please feel free to continue the discussion by emailing me at; information-governance; chat-and-collaboration-data; legal-operationsmicrosoft, legal-ops, blog, microsoft-365, information-governance, chat-and-collaboration-data, legal-operationsmicrosoft; legal-ops; blogpaige hunt
August 26, 2020

Legal Tech Trends to Watch

We are now past the midpoint of 2020, which means we are more than halfway through the first year of a brand new decade. This midway point is a great time to take a look at the hottest trends in the legal tech world and predict where those trends may lead us as we move further into the new decade.If we were evaluating future trends in legal tech during a normal year, there might be one or two uncertainties or prominent events from the first half of the year that we would need to take into account. Maybe a shift in global data safety laws or a change to the Federal Rules of Evidence. But, as I’m sure we’re all tired of reading, 2020 has not been a normal year (“the new normal”, “these uncertain times”, “these unprecedented events”, etc. etc. etc.). No matter how you phrase it, we can all agree that 2020 has been… unpredictable. Or to be a bit less understated: the first six months of 2020 have drastically changed how many corporations and law firms function on a day-to-day basis, and industry leaders are predicting that many of those changes will have a lasting effect. For example, a recent Gartner survey of company leaders from HR, legal and compliance, finance, and real estate industries showed that 82% of those responding plan to allow employees to continue working remotely in some capacity once employees are allowed back in the office, while close to half responded that they will allow employees to work remotely full time.So what does that mean for the legal tech industry? Well, while the world around us has changed dramatically due to the events of 2020, many of those changes actually dovetail quite nicely into where legal tech was already headed. In this article, we will look at the latest trends in legal tech and how 2020, in all its chaos, has affected those trends.SaaS self-service, spectra eDiscovery: The growing adoption of cloud services is leading us to a unique hybrid approach to managing eDiscovery programs: SaaS self-service, spectra eDiscovery solutions. This new subscription-based approach gives law firms and corporate legal teams the ability to take charge of their own fates by bringing their eDiscovery program in house, while leaving much of the security risks, costs, and IT burdens to a reputable, secure vendor that can house the data in a private cloud or within its own data centers. The benefit of controlling your own eDiscovery program in house are obvious. Legal teams would have the ability to control costs and access their data whenever and wherever they need to without the expense and hassle of having to go through a middle man. It would also give legal teams more control over their own costs, deadlines, and workflows, with the ability to fluidly scale up or down depending on case need. The self-service, spectra subscription approach is also unique in that it leaves the burden and risk of creating and managing an entire IT data storage infrastructure with the vendor. A security-minded vendor with SOC 2 and ISO 27001 security certifications can house data in a private cloud or their own data center, providing a completely secure environment without the overhead and risk of managing that data in house. A subscription service also may come with the reassurance that if a project or timeline becomes more burdensome than expected, the in-house team could easily pass off a workflow or entire project to the vendor seamlessly.In 2020, a SaaS self-service, spectra solution has the added benefit of being available in every location around the world, at any time. If a worldwide pandemic has taught us anything, it is that traveling to multiple locations throughout the world to set up data centers to handle the specific needs of a case or a client is no longer a feasible solution. Housing and accessing data in the Cloud does not require abiding by global travel restrictions or mandatory quarantines. A SaaS self-service, spectra model where data is stored in the Cloud allows for global expansion without concern for pandemics, natural disasters, or political uncertainty.Big Data Analytics: Big data analytics and technology assisted review (TAR) are certainly not new ideas to 2020. The technology and tools have existed for years and the legal industry has slowly been adopting them. (I say “slowly” in contrast to how fast these tools are developed and adopted in other areas outside of the legal field.) The need to find reliable ways to comb through massive amounts of data in the eDiscovery and compliance arenas will only grow, and we can expect that the technology will only continue to improve and become even more reliable.One could argue that the biggest hindrance to big data analytics in the legal world is not the advancement of the technology, but rather the ability and willingness of many lawyers and courts to adopt that technology as a defensible, necessary legal tool in the modern world of big data. The legal field is notoriously slow to adopt new technology. As a personal example, I clerked for a prominent, incredibly smart criminal defense attorney who still used carbon paper to make copies of important court filings. This occurred during the same year that the third season of Lost aired (or the same year that the first season of Madmen premiered - pick your reference. Either way, not that long ago). And every law firm is rife with stories of the old-school partner who holes up in the firm library (the existence of which could also be an example to my point, in and of itself) because she doesn’t believe in online legal research. While the practice of law is steeped in an awe-inspiring mix of tradition and history, it can also be frustratingly slow to expand on that tradition because it refuses to use a copier. Even Don Draper had a copier by the second season.However, if we can say one positive thing about 2020, it is that the last six months have pushed the legal world into the technological future more than any other time period to date. Almost every in-house counsel, law firm, and court across the globe has been forced to find a way to conduct its business in a completely remote environment. This means that judges, law firms, and in-house counsel are facing the reality that the legal world needs to rely on and adapt to technology in order to survive. One hopes that this new reality helps lead to a more robust adoption of technological advancement in the legal world in general, and hopefully, a shift away from the reactionary relationship the legal industry always seems to have with technology. Because data volumes will only continue to explode and there will come a time in the near future when it will not be defensible to tell a judge or a client that discovery may take years in order to allow time for a team of 200 contract attorneys to look at each individual document that hits on a search term. Analytics will eventually be a requirement for a defensible eDiscovery program, and 2020 may be the year that helps many in the legal field take a more proactive approach to its adoption.New sources of data (i.e. collaboration tools): Like big data analytics, online collaboration tools like Teams and Slack are not new to 2020, but this year has certainly helped push the use of these tools to the forefront of many companies’ day-to-day business. It seems like new collaboration tools arise every month and companies are increasingly pushing employees to utilize them. Organizations are realizing the value of these collaboration tools in a post-COVID environment, where online collaboration is not only preferable, but absolutely critical. Not to repeat some of 2020’s greatest memes, but I’m sure we’ve all seen the 2020 adage that this is the year that we all realized that not only could that meeting have been an email, that email could have been an instant message. Data actually proves that theory to be true. Microsoft for example, found that chat messages within Microsoft Teams meetings increased over 10x from March 1 to June 1.The widespread use of these types of tools, in turn, generates more and more unique data that needs to be accounted for during an eDiscovery or compliance event Going forward, organizations will need to ensure that they know which tools their employees or contractors are using, what data those tools generate, and how to defensibly collect, process, and review that data in the event of a lawsuit or investigation (or retain a vendor who can guide them through that process). Which brings us to our final 2020 trend…Continuous program update subscription services: Going hand-in-hand with the above, watch out for eDiscovery programs and solutions that can manage the continuous delivery of program updates on all of the applications and platforms that organizations use to effectively perform their work. Gone are the days when the same data collection or processing workflow could be used for years at a time and still be defensible. From iPhone iOS to Teams, systemic updates to work applications and platforms can now roll out on an almost weekly basis, and it is imperative that legal and compliance teams stay on top of those updates and adapt to them in order to ensure that company information remains secure and that any data generated can be defensibly collected and processed when needed. In 2020 and beyond, look for technologically advanced eDiscovery subscription services that give companies the ability to prepare for and stay ahead of the never-ending stream of software updates.To discuss this topic further, please feel free to reach out to me at; ediscovery-review; legal-operationscloud, ai-big-data, blog, ai-and-analytics, ediscovery-review, legal-operations,cloud; ai-big-data; blogsarah moran
April 29, 2021

Legal Operations Efficiency Begins with a Rock-Solid Collaboration Tool

Legal departments tend to run fairly lean. This means relying on external parties to accomplish any task is the norm. But when you are managing dozens of outside counsel on different matters, it can be nearly impossible to keep abreast of email traffic, calendars, and the status of any given task. Thankfully with a little bit of technology and some organization, this issue can be solved. This blog will share some tips on how other legal departments have solved this challenge.Select a technology platform to support organization and collaboration. The technology should allow internal and external parties to edit documents, view and manage calendars, organize task lists, and make comments and/or send messages to each other. There are many technologies that organizations use, such as Microsoft Teams or Google Workspace, that work well for this type of collaboration internally, but are not necessarily set up for external collaboration. With some additional work, you can also set these tools up for external collaboration. However, given all the privacy and data management considerations for internal use, one can imagine how high the hurdles are to set this up for external use. If you are facing those hurdles, there are several third-party technologies, such as Joinder and HighQ, that work well for external collaboration. These third-party cloud technologies are fairly low cost and quick to implement. The most important thing here is to choose a single platform. You want to make sure that you are able to minimize switching platforms with every new matter and/or outside counsel. Imagine the ease with which you can get an overview of all your legal work if you can log in to one platform and see your litigation eDiscovery deadlines, patent filing deadlines, and third-party subpoena response deadlines. You can then seamlessly edit the associated documents and assign a task to the next reviewer. You can see how selecting a single platform provides greater visibility and efficiency.Ensure each third party has a person responsible for maintaining the records inside the shared technology. Although you will likely have multiple people working on any given matter, you want to make sure there is at least one person from each third party who is responsible for updating the system. This should be someone knowledgeable about the matter, the deadlines, and the tasks. This should also be someone who is highly organized and comfortable with the technology.Agree upon a common organizational structure. The hardest thing about managing hundreds of matters is staying organized across all of them. If you choose a way to organize that remains consistent, it makes it much easier to find what you are looking for quickly. For example, you may choose to folder documents and tasks by matter type or by the department of origination. Either way, make sure it is a structure that makes sense across your legal portfolio. Here are some considerations to ponder when deciding how to name your files.Write the above into your outside counsel guidelines. A third-party collaboration tool and the organizational system are only as good as the adoption. By writing a requirement to keep it updated into your outside counsel guidelines, you are increasing the chances of success. Here is some sample text for your use:[Company name] uses [software name] as its third-party collaboration tool and asks that each of its outside counsel use [software name] for all work on the matter. On at least a weekly basis, outside counsel shall update [software name] with important dates in the matter, an updated list of tasks in the matter, and any final versions of key documents in the matter.The benefits of having all your legal documents in one platform increase over time. You create a system of records that can be referenced at any time. I hope that these tips will help you implement a solution for third-party collaboration so you can reduce the time you spend searching your email for the last version of the, legal-ops, blog, legal-operations,ediscovery-process; legal-ops; bloglighthouse
February 16, 2021

Legal Tech Innovation: The Future is Bright

Recently, I had the opportunity to (virtually) attend the first three days of Legalweek, the premier conference for those in the legal tech industry. Obviously, this year’s event looked much different than past years, both in structure and in content. But as I listened to legal and technology experts talk about the current state of the industry, I was happily surprised that the message conveyed was not one of doom and gloom, as you might expect to hear during a pandemic year. Instead, a more inspiring theme has emerged for our industry - one of hope through innovation.Just as we, as individuals, have learned hard lessons during this unprecedented year and are now looking towards a brighter spring, the legal industry has learned valuable lessons about how to leverage technology and harness innovation to overcome the challenges this year has brought. From working remotely in scenarios that previously would have never seemed possible, to recognizing the vital role diversity plays in the future of our industry – this year has forced legal professionals to adapt quickly, utilize new technology, and listen more to some of our most innovative leaders.Below, I have highlighted the key takeaways from the first three days of Legalweek, as well as how to leverage the lessons learned throughout this year to bring about a brighter future for your organization or law firm.“Human + Machine” not “Human vs. Machine” Almost as soon as artificial intelligence (AI) technology started playing a role within the legal industry, people began debating whether machines could (or should) eventually replace lawyers. This debate often devolves into a simple “which is better: humans or machines” argument. However, if the last year has taught us anything, it is that the answers to social debates often require nuance and introspection, rather than a “hot take.” The truth is that AI can no longer be viewed as some futuristic option that is only utilized in certain types of eDiscovery matters; nor should it be fearfully viewed as having the potential to replace lawyers in some dystopian future. Rather, AI has become essential to the work of attorneys and ultimately will be necessary to help lawyers serve their clients effectively and efficiently.1Data volumes are exponentially growing year after year, so much so that soon, even the smallest internal investigation will involve too much data to be effectively reviewed by human eyes alone. AI and analytics tools are now necessary to prioritize, cull, and categorize data in most litigations for attorneys to efficiently find and review the information they need. Moreover, advancements in AI technology now enable attorneys to quickly identify categories of information that previously required expensive linear review (for example, leveraging AI to identify privilege, protected health information (PHI), or trade secret data).Aside from finding the needle in the haystack (or simply reducing the haystack), these tools can also help attorneys make better, more strategic counseling and business decisions. For example, AI can now be utilized to understand an organization’s entire legal portfolio better, which in turn, allows attorneys to make better scoping and burden arguments as well as craft more informed litigation and compliance strategies.Thus, the age-old debate of which is better (human or machine learning) is actually an outdated one. Instead, the future of the legal industry is one where attorneys and legal professionals harness advanced technology to serve their clients proficiently and effectively.Remote Working and Cloud-Based Tools Are Here to StayOf course, one of the biggest lessons the legal industry learned over the past year is how to effectively work remotely. Almost every organization and law firm across the world was forced to quickly pivot to a more remote workforce – and most have done so successfully, albeit while facing a host of new data challenges related to the move. However, as we approach the second year of the pandemic, it has become clear that many of these changes will not be temporary. In fact, the pandemic appears to have just been an accelerator for trends that were already underway prior to 2020. For example, many organizations were already taking steps to move to a more cloud-based data architecture. The pandemic just forced that transition to happen over a much shorter time frame to facilitate the move to a remote workforce.This means that organizations and law firms must utilize the lessons learned over the last year to remain successful in the future, as well as to overcome the new challenges raised by a more remote, cloud-based work environment. For example, many organizations implemented cloud-based collaboration tools like Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Workspace to help employees collaborate remotely. However, legal and IT professionals quickly learned that while these types of tools are great for collaboration, many of them are not built with data security, information governance, or legal discovery in mind. The data generated by these tools is much different than traditional e-mail – both in content and in structure. For example, audible conversations that used to happen around the water cooler or in an impromptu in-person meeting are now happening over Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and thus may be potentially discoverable during an investigation or legal dispute. Moreover, the data that is generated by these tools is structured significantly differently than data coming from traditional e-mail (think of chat data, video data, and the dynamic “attachments” created by Teams). Thus, organizations must learn to put rules in place to help govern and manage these data sources from a compliance, data security, and legal perspective, while law firms must continue to learn how to collect, review, and produce this new type of data.It will also be of growing importance in the future to have legal and IT stakeholder collaboration within organizations, so that new tools can be properly vetted and data workflows can be put in place early. Additionally, organizations will need a plan in place to stay ahead of technology changes, especially if moving to a cloud-based environment where updates and changes can roll out weekly. Attorneys should also consider technology training to stay up-to-date and educated on the various technology platforms and tools their company or client uses, so that they may continue to provide effective representation.Information Governance is Essential to a Healthy Data StrategyRelated to the above, another key theme that emerged over the last year is that good information governance is now essential to a healthy company, and that it is equally important for attorneys representing organizations to understand how data is managed within that organization.The explosion of data volumes and sources, as well as the unlimited data storage capacity of the Cloud means that it is essential to have a strong and dynamic information governance strategy in place. In-house counsel should ensure that they know how to manage and protect their company’s data, including understanding what data is being created, where that data resides, and how to preserve and collect that data when required. This is important not only from an eDiscovery and compliance perspective but also from a data security and privacy perspective. As more jurisdictions across the world enact competing data privacy legislation, it is imperative for organizations to understand what personal data they may be storing and processing, as well as how to collect it and effectively purge it in the event of a request by a data subject.Also, as noted above, the burden to understand an organization’s data storage and preservation strategy does not fall solely on in-house counsel. Outside counsel must also ensure they understand their client’s organizational data to make effective burden, scoping, and strategy decisions during litigation.A Diverse Organization is a Stronger OrganizationFinally, another key theme that has emerged is around recognizing the increasing significance that diversity plays within the legal industry. This year has reinforced the importance of representation and diversity across every industry, as well as provided increased opportunities for education about how diversity within a workforce leads to a stronger, more innovative company. Organizational leaders are increasingly vocalizing the key role diversity plays when seeking services from law firms and legal technology providers. Specifically, many companies have implemented internal diversity initiatives like women leadership programs and employee-led diversity groups and are actively seeking out law firms and service providers that provide similar opportunities to their own employees. The key takeaway here is that organizations and law firms should continue to look for ways to weave diverse representation into the fabric of their businesses.ConclusionWhile this year was plagued by unprecedented challenges and obstacles, the lessons we learned about technology and innovation over the year will help organizations and law firms survive and thrive in the future.To discuss any of these topics more, please feel free to reach out to me at In fact, attorneys already have an ethical duty (imposed by the Rules of Professional Conduct) to understand and utilize existing technology in order to competently represent their; ediscovery-review; legal-operationscloud, information-governance, ai-big-data, blog, ai-and-analytics, ediscovery-review, legal-operations,cloud; information-governance; ai-big-data; blogsarah moran
January 27, 2021

Legal Operations: How to Speak “Lawyer” about Process Improvements

Legal operations and process improvements can be tough if you are not speaking the same language. Does the following sound like something you would say? “I'm new to legal operations having come from a business background. Legal has a completely different mindset and even getting people to recognize that we have processes, let alone that we need to improve them, can be difficult. How do I speak to lawyers about process improvement?”If so, you’re in good company. This comment represents a theme I have heard at various legal operations conferences that I have attended. My background as a lawyer turned executive puts me in the position of speaking both lawyer and business professional. Here are some things that, in my experience, have been helpful for legal operations or business professionals entering the world of legal, to know.First, know that the need for a process is not a presumption. Often in the business world, there is general agreement that things should follow a process. That is not the same in legal. There isn’t a presumption for, or against, a process. It isn’t something that is thought about very much and since legal work is different for each matter (i.e. each contract is unique, each litigation is unique), there is a predisposition to thinking things should be done uniquely each time. This predisposition can be overcome but it does warrant an explanation, which is different from the status quo in the business realm.Second, recognize that many lawyers think in terms of risk and not just traditional financial ROI, as many business professionals are taught. For example, a change in a process can be seen as risky because it represents the unknown, so there may be hesitation to change despite a clear financial benefit. The way to overcome this is to consider and quantify the risks of any current process and changes to that process. Much in the way that you would traditionally quantify a financial ROI of anything you’re doing (or not doing), add in the risk factors and mitigations. Third, many lawyers like to see the world in steps from beginning to end – not with a whole bunch of uncertainty in the middle. So, laying things out in a detailed methodical way (e.g., how you will get from where you are now to the final result) will resonate with lawyers. If you do not know all the steps, at least showcasing what you have thought through or when you will have more details will be helpful in overcoming any skepticism.Finally, make sure you’re using a shared language. The meaning of words is very specific in the legal world. How a term has been defined in a contract can be the subject of an entire lawsuit and can make or break a business, so lawyers take definitions very seriously. Making sure everyone is on the same page with respect to the business language you are using can go a long way in avoiding unnecessary confusion. legal-operationslegal-ops, blog, legal-operations-legal-ops; bloglighthouse
January 6, 2021

Legal Operations Change Management: Getting Your Idea Approved At Your Organization

Legal operations change management is one of the biggest challenges that professionals face according to a poll at the most recent CLOC conference. This isn’t surprising given that organizational change management is an often analyzed topic with a plethora of opinions about ways to accomplish it. There is no magic bullet to force a change in your legal department, however, growing your influence across legal operations and your organization can certainly help. Here are five steps to grow that influence and get people to modify their behaviors.Step 1: Get Clear About the Problem & Root CauseWhether you are tired of hearing about the myriad of issues with your contract lifecycle management or e-billing tool or you have been tasked with centralizing outside counsel selection and management, the first step remains the same. You must get clear in your own mind about what it is that you’re trying to change – both the problem complained about and the root cause of said problem. When starting out you should brainstorm and be liberal with your ideas, jot down anything that comes to mind, both problem and potential causes, and then ask others for their thoughts. Getting various opinions will help you to clarify the issue in your own mind. Once you have a page or two of related ideas, review all the notes and come to a final conclusion about the problem you are trying to solve and its root cause. Write this down in a succinct 1-3 sentence statement.Step 2: Create Your HypothesisThis second step also involves brainstorming. Go through the same process as step one by jotting down any ideas to solve your succinct problem statement. Again, you may want to ask a legal operations colleague (or two) for their thoughts. You may also want to observe people completing the task(s) you’re trying to change so that you can come up with some ideas of ways to solve the problem you have identified. For example, if you are targeting changing the matter management tool, you will want to understand the nature of the matters involved, understand what people are using the tool for, and create a hypothesis around the new tool you want to implement. Once you have your list, cull it down to 1-3 potential solutions to test.Step 3: Test Your HypothesisNext, take your 1-3 potential solutions and test them out. The first way to test is to reach out to other legal operations professionals and/or service providers outside your organization to see if the solution has worked for others. Next, if you can, test it out yourself in your organization. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will implement a sample of a new tool, but that you will demoing the tool and get an understanding of what you would need to implement this solution at your organization.Step 4: Create and Deliver Your PitchNow that you are the expert on the problem and have a well thought out solution, you need to convince others. The best way to do that is to tell a story that includes the following:what you saw (the problem);how pervasive the problem is (# of people impacted);the cost of the problem (time/money);the proposed solution;the benefit of this solution;why this solution over the other 2-3 good solutions; and what is needed to implement this solution. Once you have this together, determine who you will have to convince. Start with your boss, any budget owners, and any leaders whose teams will be directly impacted. Before you share the presentation, make sure that you understand what each of these group’s reactions may be so that you can tailor your verbal commentary to address their comments. If you don’t know the attendees’ potential reactions, you should consider doing some due diligence beforehand. The most effective way I have found to do this is to start with your boss. Share the general ideas of your presentation with them and ask them how others will react. If they are not sure, you can start with a peer in legal or another department or have informal conversations with the attendees before the actual presentation. Investing time in these “pre-pitches” will ensure a successful end result. Make sure you incorporate any feedback from these pre-pitches into the ultimate presentation.Step 5: Brag About Your ResultsAfter a successful presentation, procurement, and implementation, don’t forget to share the wins of your project. Specifically, share with the same people you pitched at the outset but also share the results with anyone whose behavior you have already or are still trying to change. Sharing any wins will reinforce the new behaviors you are trying to implement. Tie those wins back to the original presentation and the results you were anticipating. This showing of success (and of credibility of your original pitch) will have a positive impact on your reputation and ability to influence future change. You will develop a reputation for getting positive results and people will be excited to try what you have up your sleeve. legal-operationslegal-ops, blog, legal-operations,legal-ops; bloglighthouse
March 12, 2021

Legal Operations: From Tactical Resource to Strategic Partner

Do you ever feel like you are spending your day firefighting and wish you could spend more time planning and executing all the great ideas you have? Do you wish the business came to you first to ask for input so they could be prepared rather than rushing in once the alarm bells are already ringing? You are not alone. These are common refrains heard from legal operations professionals. Here are some ways to change that and go from a tactical resource to a strategic partner.Make Time for Strategic PlanningEven if the majority of your role calls for real-time execution, you can still showcase your strategic side. First, make sure you are spending time thinking strategically. I would recommend blocking out time at least once a month to do this work. During each of your thinking sessions, focus on just one idea. If you have too many ideas, your sessions will not be as productive. If you have multiple ideas you need to work through simultaneously, do so in multiple sessions. Or, if you don’t have any ideas, identify a need or frustration in your department. You can focus on a broad need (i.e. how to organize the department most efficiently) or a more narrow need (i.e. how to understand the company’s legal spend). When choosing what to focus on, choose something that you would be comfortable sharing with someone else. This will ensure that you can demonstrate the great strategic thinking you have done. Once you have selected the need you are going to think about, divide your time into three parts. Spend the first part brainstorming around all of the details of the specific need. Identify the problem and the potential causes. You can also identify related problems. Jot down the impact of the issue with as much detail as possible.In the second third, brainstorm potential solutions. Jot down anything that comes to mind. If this is an issue you have already thought about, you may even be able to identify how long each solution might take and/or the potential associated cost. If you have this information, note it. If not, that is ok too. The focus of the first two-thirds of your time should be to let the ideas flow. In the last third of your time, organize your thoughts on the first two sections. I find it easiest to do my organizing in a presentation software like PowerPoint, Google Slides, or Canva. You can follow the below outline or check out more details in my prior blog on getting your ideas approved at your organization.Problem Statement – Identify the issue in 1-3 sentences.Impact Statement – Identify the impact of the issue. You want to quantify this in some way, although at the early stages you might just put a placeholder or blank in here.Cause(s) – Identify the top 3-5 causes of the problem.Potential Solutions – How much you put here will really vary, but try to at least get your top idea into writing.Next Steps – Identify the next steps. If you’re not sure here, leave this blank. When you have your first conversation (more on that below), you can add information here. If you are clear about what you want to do, spend time on this section. This is an area where you can make any asks you have.Once you have completed your strategic thinking time, decide whether you want to share this plan. You may not do so with each monthly idea but you should share at least two outputs of your strategic thinking each year if you want to demonstrate your strategic ability. When you are sharing, I recommend starting with your boss. If that feels too vulnerable, you may decide to share with a co-worker first, but you will want to go to your boss next. Make sure you make clear that the goal of the session is to get their feedback. During that presentation, ask for feedback on the idea, next steps, as well as who else’s input might be valuable. If things go well, you will likely go forward with presenting to others. If your boss feels like this idea is not viable at this time, make sure you ask if there are any other similar projects that you can get involved in? Note that it might feel like a letdown if your boss says this isn’t the right time for this project. Keep in mind, however, that your goal was to showcase your strategic thinking and you will have accomplished this goal by presenting. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the primary obstacles I hear from people who “want” to do such an exercise. I don’t have time. I hear you – this is not something that is necessarily part of your day job, and if you’re fighting fires, you’re likely at your maximum capacity. However, think of this as a career investment. If you want to get out of the firefighting mode, invest in this work even if it is outside of your typical work hours or job responsibilities. I can’t take on the solution I’m suggesting. You can always have this discussion with your boss. It may be that there are resources that can help you or perhaps someone else takes on driving the solution. Either way, you will be able to showcase your strategic thinking.I’m worried that I will damage my reputation because this isn’t part of “my job.” Each organization is different and values this type of work differently. I will say that if this is something you really enjoy and is important to you, and your organization or role doesn’t value this work, you should consider whether your passions align with your current role.How to Show Up as Strategic in Tactical SituationsIf you can’t take on the strategic thinking right now, or if you want to press fast forward on you being seen as a strategic resource, there are ways you can show up strategically in your day-to-day interactions. When someone comes to you with a specific request for action, pause and ask yourself these three questions:“why” are we doing this;“what” broader impact will this have; and“how” does this relate to other things going on inside the organization? Take the example of a lawyer coming to you holding their latest law firm bill – fuming! “I just heard that we are paying twice on our matter for Firm ABC than Jane is paying on her matter for similar Firm ABD. Firm ABC’s rates are ridiculous – please negotiate them down right away.” You could absolutely pick up the phone and call Firm ABC. Or, you could think about the above questions. In doing so, you may realize that we are due for an annual firm rate adjustment across all our firms and that this firm has a very specialized area of expertise. If you share with this lawyer that the department has an overall rate discussion coming up that would potentially impact all of their matters, rather than just this one, as well as positively impact other matters with this firm. You can share that your preference would be to not make a phone call now but instead work this into a broader more strategic conversation with the firm. This second response showcases how you are thinking about the bigger picture and longer-term consequences for the organization. It also shares with the lawyer that you have proactive measures that you are working on that positively impact their, blog, legal-operations,legal-ops; bloglighthouse
July 2, 2020

Legal Operations: Borrowing from Product Management Principles to Implement a Successful Contract Management Solution

What is the most frustrating thing when you have spent months overhauling and then launching a new contract lifecycle management (CLM) solution? Nobody using it! Or, more likely, a few people are using it but most people are hesitating to change their current processes and start using the new solution. I hear this frustration in contract management solutions as well as other large project implementations. As I sat down to think about this challenge, I read many articles about the best business practices to apply to avoid this. These articles focused on bringing business process management to this process, which is valuable, but even with those processes, your implementation could be left with very little adoption.Then I had a light bulb moment – why not pull from a discipline whose main focus is to resonate with its clients and users – product management. It wasn’t a far reach given my product management background and certification. Product managers do a lot of different things at different organizations but I think most people would agree that they play a key role in building and launching a successful product. More specifically, a product manager is tasked with knowing her or his customer base so well that he or she can speak for them and direct the development of a product into one that resonates with its users. A product that resonates with users is more highly adopted and therefore, typically seen as more successful. So what can we, in legal operations, learn from this field?1. Focus on what really matters to your users and potential usersStart by interviewing people who are directly involved with the contract management process as well as some people who are adjacent to the contract management process. Make sure to capture the views of people close to contracts (e.g. attorneys), as well as those who rely on the outputs of those contracts (e.g. finance and sales). Ask about each person’s main goal in contract management and what is preventing them from achieving that goal. Specific to CLM solutions, metadata can be critical to understand and map early, so I would recommend asking people what metadata they rely on when searching for contracts.[1]In these interviews, make sure you understand the impact of any contract management challenges raised in the interviews. You may hear a variety of complaints, but how many of those are frustrations that make the process inefficient versus just minor grumblings. When someone mentions an issue, you should always ask them to quantify, on a scale of 1-10, how big an impact that problem has in their daily life. You should also ask how pervasive the problem is, on a scale of 1-10, across their peers. This will allow you to more quickly identify the real issues that will be impactful to solve. For example, someone may be frustrated that they have to log in to a different technology to manage a contract workflow. Another person may be frustrated that they cannot tie together later revisions to contracts, such as renewals, pricing, or amendments. By asking for the impact during the interviews, you will likely learn that the technology switching challenge is a 2 out of 10 on the impact scale whereas the issue of the later revision is a 9 out of 10. You can prioritize solving for the latter and have tremendous business impact and avoid mistakes by other departments relying on outdated terms.2. Launch a beta solution for a handful of usersMost products have some sort of test user group that is able to provide feedback on releases early. Since you likely are not engineering your own CLM, I would recommend gathering a small group of “early adopters” to test your new CLM solution in three ways:First, you should map out your ideal state process. Bring this group together to talk through that ideal state and suggest any tweaks. Second, when you have narrowed your technology selection to one or two technologies, you can bring the group together to test those technologies. Finally, this group should be your first users of the final solution, the technology and process combined, once implemented.This may be self evident, but be sure to include yourself in the testing group. Often people feel like they are running the project so they should not participate in the feedback. However, given the deep immersion in the contract management process and your knowledge of the organization, your feedback is critical to shaping the right solution. 3. Use your personas in communicationsCommunicating about your solution is a critical step in any CLM solution. That communication is what gets users using the solution and what jump starts change. Making this communication effective can be daunting, but here is the product management formula. Start with the challenges that your users shared with you. When they see their voices reflected, they will immediately be interested in the message. Next, state in 1-2 sentences how you have solved the challenge. When people see that a challenge they have raised has been solved, it is highly likely that they will adopt the new solution. With this, you should have a 3 sentence “elevator pitch” that connects with your intended audience. If appropriate for your organization, you could also consider shortening those three sentences to a tagline that could be used within the legal department to give visibility to the project. A great example of a tagline was Apple’s iPod: “1,000 songs in your pocket.” This was a short statement showing how the product solved the problem. Something similar in the CLM space could be “your contracts, and revisions, in one place” or “automating the contracts that don’t need your attention.” 4. Check in on user satisfactionRemember that your job is not finished upon implementation. Continue to check in with your users to see how things are going. When checking in, the best thing to do is a survey so you can measure the response empirically. The most common question to ask in a customer satisfaction survey is how satisfied they are with the solution on a scale of 1-5. You can follow that up by asking what would improve their satisfaction. The survey can be helpful to understand how the solution is working as well as a way to gather areas of improvement. Before making any changes, however, I would recommend doing some interviews to understand the impact and pervasiveness of the issues so you can determine what changes are needed.[1] Typical fields include party name, party state, contract type, contract expiration date, notification period (to the extent different, next contract review date), contract amount (or at least a small/med/large designation), internal legal contact, department, limitation of liabilities, and early, blog, legal-operations,legal-ops; bloglighthouse
May 24, 2021

Legal and Compliance Should Use Chatbots to Their Advantage

Most of you are pretty familiar with using website chatbots in your daily lives – whether to assist in your online banking or to help with a product issue. But what if you went to report sexual harassment at work and you were greeted by a chatbot? That may seem a little unusual, however, there are a couple of advantages to this approach, including a better customer service experience for internal customers and allowing the compliance professionals to take on more complex work. For several years the legal and compliance industry discussions around chatbots have focused on how law firms can use chatbots. In this blog, I will focus on three ways in-house legal and compliance departments should use them to their advantage.1. As a legal intake tool.A common challenge for legal departments is how to intake matters and manage the work in the legal department. Legal operations teams are always looking for ways to understand what people are doing and how to make the process more efficient. There is a lot of discussion on how forms and/or workflow tools can be leveraged to solve this issue – and they are very helpful – but you can take this one step further with a chatbot. When someone inside your organization comes to the legal team, you can have a chatbot gather basic, or even more detailed, information about what they need. You can train a chatbot to understand the category of their need – advice, contract, patent, litigation, eDiscovery – and then take them through a series of questions to better understand the need. You can then even have the request routed through your workflow tool so it gets assigned to the right person (e.g., assigned to an attorney, a paralegal, or an eDiscovery project manager). As your chatbot gets familiar with the questions, you can have it ask deeper questions and take the request even further.2. To answer common legal questions.Legal departments tend to run lean. As a former general counsel who still speaks with a lot of legal department leaders, I know these leaders are always looking for ways to do more with less (or the same). They want to ensure their teams are spending time on substantive legal issues and not answering common questions that come up and can be handled differently. For example, answering questions about where to find the sexual harassment training or how to send over or sign a standard NDA, are questions that come into the legal department and lawyers spend their time answering them. These questions could easily be answered by a chatbot trained with common questions. This would provide a better user experience because the information is shared instantaneously with the user and it also frees up time for legal resources to spend their time on more unique issues. Finally, legal team members also feel more productive and engaged because their time isn’t being spent on more administrative tasks!3. In place of a hotline.This is one of the more unique use cases I have heard recently but it makes a lot of sense. Compliance hotlines work well because of the anonymity available but there is not an opportunity to share information back with the person reporting. For example, the person reporting an incident may want to know what the next steps might be, where they can find a certain policy, or where they can find additional resources. None of that is available via a hotline or even a form. With a chatbot, however, you can keep the anonymity but mimic a more personal conversation where additional resources can be shared. As shared on the Women in Compliance podcast, one organization has trained chatbots to be their first line of intake and support on sexual harassment complaints. The internal response has been very, legal-ops, blog, legal, legal-operations,compliance-and-investigations; legal-ops; blog; legallighthouse
October 29, 2020

Getting on the Same Page…of the Dictionary

Have you ever had this scenario – multiple team members from different groups come to you frustrated because the working relationship between their groups is “broken?” Legal is saying they aren’t getting what they need, IT says they are providing what’s asked, and finance doesn’t understand why we are paying our outside vendor for something that the internal IT and legal teams are “supposed to do.” You are responsible for process improvement among these groups so the questions and frustration lands on your desk! This is a common issue. So common, in fact, that this was a big part of a recent Legal Operators webinar I attended. The good news is that the solution may be simple.Often times, the issue revolves around language and how different departments are using the words differently. Let’s explore the above scenario a bit further. The legal team member says they asked IT to gather all data from a certain “custodian.” The IT team took that to mean all “user-created data” on the network from one certain employee, so that is what they provided. They didn’t, however, gather the items on the person’s desktop nor did they gather records that the person created in third-party systems such as the HR and sales systems that the company uses. The legal team, therefore, asked the outside vendor to collect the “missing” data and that vendor sent a bill for their services. Finance is now wondering why we are paying for collecting data when we have an IT team that does that. The issue is that different teams have slightly different interpretations of the request. Although this scenario is eDiscovery specific, this can happen in any interaction between departments. As legal operations is often responsible for process improvement as well as the way legal functions with other departments, the professionals in that group find themselves trying to navigate the terminology. To prevent such misunderstandings in the future, you can proactively solve this problem through a dictionary.Creating a dictionary can be really simple. It is something I have seen one person start on their own just by jotting down words they hear from different groups. From there, you can share that document and ask people to add to it. If you already have a dictionary of your company acronyms, you can either add to it or you can create a specific “data dictionary” for the purposes of legal and IT working together. Another option is to create a simple word document for a single use at the outset of a project. Which solution you select will vary based on the need you are trying to solve. Here are some considerations when you are building out your dictionary.What is the goal of the data dictionary? Most commonly I have seen the goal to be to improve the working relationship of specific teams long term. However, you may have a specific project (e.g., creation of a data map or implementation of Microsoft 365) that would benefit from a project-specific dictionary.Where should it live? This will depend on the goal, but make sure you choose a system that is easy to access for everyone and that doesn’t have a high administrative burden. Choosing a system that the teams are using for other purposes in their daily work will increase the chances of people leveraging this dictionary.Who will keep it updated? This is ideally a group effort with one accountable person who will make any final decisions on the definitions and own updating in the future. There will be an initial effort to populate many terms and you may want a committee of 2 or 3 people to edit definitions. After this initial effort, you can allow access to everyone to edit the document or you can have representatives from each team. The former allows the document to be a living, breathing document and encourages updating, however, may require more frequent oversight by the master administrator. The latter allows each group to have its own oversight but increases the burden of updating. Whichever method you choose, the ultimate owner of the dictionary should review it quarterly to ensure it is staying up to date.Who will have access? I recommend broader access over more limited access, especially for the main groups involved. The more people understand each other’s vocabulary, the easier it is for teams to work together. However, you should consider your company’s access policies when making this decision.What should it include? All department-specific business terms. It is often hard to remember what vernacular in your department is specific to your department as you are so steeped in that language. One easy way to identify these terms is to assign a “listener” from another department in each cross-functional meeting you have for a period. For example, for the next 3 weeks, in each meeting that involves another department, ask one person from that other department to write down any words they hear that are not commonly used in their department. This will give you a good starting point for the dictionary.Note that. although I am talking about a cross-functional effort in the above, this dictionary can also be leveraged within a department. I have found it very effective to create a legal ops dictionary that includes terms from all other departments that you pick up in your work with those other departments. This can still help your goal of resolving confusion and will allow you to get to a common understanding quickly as you are then better equipped with the language that will make your ask clear to the other, legal-ops, blog, legal-operations,ediscovery-process; legal-ops; bloglighthouse
June 19, 2020

Delivering Value: Sharing Legal Department Metrics that Move the Core Business

Below is a copy of a featured blog written by Debora Motyka Jones for CLOC's Legal Operations Blog.One of the most common complaints I hear from General Counsels and Chief Legal Officers is that they are not able to sit at a table full of their executive peers and provide metrics on how legal is impacting the core business. Sure, they are able to show their own department’s spending, tasks, and resource allocation. But wouldn’t it be nice to tell the business when revenue will hit? Or insights about what organizational behaviors are leading to inefficiency and, if changed, will impact spending. More specifically, as the legal operations team member responsible for metrics, wouldn’t it be great to share these key insights with your GC as well as your finance, sales, IT, and other department counterparts? Good news! Legal has this type of information, it is just a matter of identifying and mining it!Keeping metrics has become table stakes in today’s legal department and it often falls on the shoulders of legal operations to track and share those metrics. In fact, CLOC highlights business intelligence as a core competency for the legal operations function. Identifying metrics, cleansing those metrics, and putting them forth can be quite a lift, but once you have the right metrics in place, you are able to make data-driven decisions about how to staff your team, what external resources you need, and drive efficiencies. If you are still at the early stages of figuring out which metrics you should track for your department, there are many good resources out there including a checklist of potential metrics by Thompson Reuters, and a blog by CLOC on where to start. HBR also conducts a survey so you can see what other departments are seeing – this can be helpful for setting targets and/or seeing how you compare. When you analyze these and other resources, you will notice that many of the metrics are legal department centric. Though they are helpful for the department, they are not very meaningful when they are sitting around the table with executives doing strategic business planning for the business as a whole. So what types of metrics can legal provide in those settings and how do you capture them? There are many ways to go about this, but I have highlighted a few that can provide a robust discussion at the executive table.Leading Indicators of RevenueMost companies are reviewing the top line with some frequency and in many industries it is a challenge to predict the timing of that revenue. Given its position at the end of the sales cycle, in the contracting phase, legal has excellent access to information about revenue and the timing thereof. Here are the most common statistics your legal department can provide in that area:New Customer Acquisition: Number of Customer Contracts Signed this Month – Signing up paying customers is a direct tie to revenue and the legal department holds the keys to one of the last steps pre-revenue: contract signing. By identifying the type of contract that leads to revenue, the legal department is able to share with the business how many new customers are coming online. The metric is typically a raw number and can be compared against the number of contracts in a prior period. If not all customers who sign this contract lead to revenue, you will want to report (or at least know) the ratio of contracts to paying customers in order to give an accurate picture. Once you have been tracking this metric, you may want to take it a step further and identify and contracts that come earlier in the process. For example, in some companies, prospective clients sign NDAs earlier in the sales cycle. By reporting on the number of NDAs signed, you will start to see a ratio of the number of NDA to the number of MSAs and can give even earlier visibility into the customer acquisition pipeline.Expected New Customers: Contracts in Negotiation and Contract Negotiation Length – If your company has negotiated contracts then reporting on the number of contracts in negotiation can also help with revenue planning. Knowing the typical length of that negotiation will give an indication as to the timing of that revenue.Expected Revenue: Timing – The final piece of the revenue puzzle is when the above revenue will hit. You can work with the finance team to get the typical time between contract signing and revenue. This will often vary by contract size so layering in the contract size is helpful. If contract size if not available in the contract itself, that is likely information that sales keep so they can report that metrics if legal cannot.The two departments most interested in all three the above metrics are likely to be sales and finance but depending on the detail reported at the executive level, these may be executive-level metrics. If the above seems like a lot, know that many contract management tools and/or contract artificial intelligence tools can mine your contracts for the above information.Efficiency in Business OperationsLegal operations also has a unique ability to look back and reflect on the efficiency in some areas of business operations. More specifically, in the course of litigation and investigations, cross sections of the business are examined with hindsight and as we all know, hindsight is 20/20. Providing that look back information to the business can help in overall business efficiency. In addition, legal has access to payment clauses, in contracts, that can ensure efficiency in cash management. Here are some helpful statistics your legal department can provide on the state of legal operations.Early Payment Discount Usage: Number of Contracts with Early Payment and Percentage of Early Payment Discounts Used – When signing vendor contracts, there are often provisions allowing for discounts if certain terms – e.g. payment within a short timeframe, are met. Although this may be fresh on everyone’s mind at the time of negotiation, this often gets lost over time. Using current technologies, the legal operations team can identify these contracts and provide the number of contracts in which such provisions exist. You can then work with finance to determine how many of these provisions are being leveraged – e.g. is the business actually paying early and taking the percentage reduction. The savings for the business can be material by just providing visibility into this area.Data Storage: How Much Data to Keep – A common IT pain point is storage management and having to add servers in order to keep up with the business needs. With cloud technologies, IT often knows how much space they have allocated to each user’s mail or individual drives but what is unknown is how much data users are keeping on their machines or in collaborations tools and shared drives. With data collections for litigation or regulatory matters, the legal team has access to this information. This information can help IT understand its storage needs and put in place technologies to minimize storage per person thereby saving on storage costs.Business Intelligence from Active Matters – This one isn’t a specific metric. Instead, this is more focused on the business intelligence that comes out of the legal department’s unique position as a reviewer of sets of documents. In litigation or investigations, the legal department has access to a cross section of data that the business doesn’t pull together in the regular course of business. Technology is now advanced enough to be able to provide business insights from this data that can be shared with the business as a whole.Example #1: Artificial intelligence can be used to create compliance models that show correlations between expense reports, trade journals, and sales behavior to identify bad behaviors. Sharing these types of learnings from matters can open up discussions among executives as to which learnings deserve a deeper dive. As an aside, you could also imagine a scenario where this same logic can also be used inversely – when combined with revenue it could identify effective sales behaviors – although this is something that would be a bigger lift and I would expect the sales department to drive this type of work.Example #2: The amount of duplicative data is a common metric reported in litigations or investigations. Sharing this with your IT team can highlight an easy storage win and legal can help craft a plan of how to attack duplicative data thereby leading to lower storage costsI would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are opportunities for the legal department in these metrics as well. By using these metrics, as well as the artificial intelligence mentioned above, legal operations can resource plan and drive savings within the legal department. For example, the number of NDAs and sales contracts can inform staffing. Technology can identify contracts or other documents that are repetitive and automate the handling of those documents. Within litigation and investigations, technology can identify objectively non-responsive data so that it does not need to be collected as well as identify sources that are lower risk which don’t require outside counsel review and previously collected data that can be re-used.I hope that with the above metrics, you’re able to participate in some great business discussions and show how your legal department is not only effective in its own right but how integral a unit it is to driving the core; legal-operationsreporting, legal-ops, blog, ai-and-analytics, legal-operationsreporting; legal-ops; bloglighthouse
September 24, 2020

Automation of In-House Legal Tasks: How and Where to Begin

Legal operations departments aim to support the delivery of legal services in an efficient manner. To that end, resource management and solving problems through technology are core responsibilities of the department. But, the tasks of a legal department vary from answering legal phone calls, filing patents, reviewing and approving contracts, and litigating, just to name a few. With such a varied workload, what to automate can be difficult to identify. To help, I have put together a brief overview of where to start.Step 1: IdentificationStart by identifying the tasks that are repetitive. One of the best ways I have found to do this is to set up a quick 15-minute discussion with 3-5 representatives from different functional areas of your legal team, and from different levels (e.g. individual contributor, manager, function head). In that meeting, ask them one or all of the following questions:What tasks do you wish your team no longer had to do?What tasks do you want to be replaced by robots in the future?What tasks are low value but your team still spends a lot of time on?You should not spend too much time here – the goal is to identify a pretty quick list that is top of mind for people. From these interviews, create a list for further vetting. Just in case you come up empty handed or aren’t able to get time with people within legal, here is a list of items that are commonly automated and we would expect to come up:Contract Automation Self service retrieval of boilerplate contracts (e.g., NDAs) Self service building common contracts (e.g., clause selection for vendor contracts, developer agreements)Request for review, negotiation, and signature of other contractsLegal Team Approvals Marketing document approvals Budget approval for any legal team spend Legal Assistance Requests (Intake) Legal research request Legal advice on an issue neededNeed for outside counselPatent Management Alerts for filing and renewal deadlines Automatically manage workflow for submissionsSelect one or two items from your list and then validate it with your boss and/or general counsel. You want to understand whether others agree on the impact automation will make and identify any potential concerns.Step 2: Build vs. BuyWhether to purchase third-party software or build your own internally is always a good question to start with. Building your own tool gives you exactly what you want with, oftentimes, very little need to change your process. But, it is more resource-intensive both for the build and the maintenance. Buying off the shelf software limits you in what’s commercially available but it takes all the load off your development resources.For some, build or buy may be an easy question as they may not have access to development resources. For others, they may not have any budget for an external tool and/or may be required to use internal teams. For most, however, they fall in the middle and have some access to resources and some budget (but usually not enough of either – that’s a whole other topic).If you fall into this latter category, you will have to analyze your options. Your organizational culture will dictate what depth of analysis is needed. Regardless of the level of detail, the process is the same. The easiest place to start is by surveying what is commercially available. Even if you decide to build, knowing what software is out there, what features are available, and the general costs is helpful. Next, it is helpful to get an approximate cost of the build and maintenance if done internally. This can be a rough order of magnitude based on estimates from other internal tools developed or can be a more detailed estimate developed with the engineering team. Once you have the costs, you will want to add some information about the pros and cons of each solution – e.g., time to build and implement, technology dependencies (if known), other considerations (e.g., we are moving to the cloud in 6 months and we don’t know impact). Once you have this analysis, you can put forth a recommendation to your boss and whomever else is required to decide on how to proceed.Step 3: DesignNow that you have a decision, you can move on to design. This is the most critical stage as this is where you are determining exactly what results your automation will produce. The first thing to do here is to map out your current internal process including who does what. You want to make sure you have a representative of each group take a look at the process diagram and validate it.Once you have the process in place, you’re ready to work with the development team. If you are buying a solution for automation, you should be working closely with the software provider’s onboarding team to overlay your current process with the capabilities of the software. You will want to note where the software does not support your process and where changes will need to be made. If you adjust your process, be sure to involve the same representatives that helped with the initial diagram to provide feedback on any proposed changes in the process.If you are building the solution, you will meet with your internal product resource. This person (or people) will want to understand the process diagram and may even want to watch people go through the process so they can understand user behavior. They will then likely convert your diagram into user stories that developers will develop against. Make sure to be as specific as possible in this process. This resource will be the one representing your voice with the developers so you want them to really understand the nuances of the process.Expect some iteration back and forth during this stage and although I have simplified it here, this will be a long stage and the most important.Step 4: ImplementationThe final stage of the process is implementation. Start with a pilot of the automation. Either select a small use case or a small group of users and validate that your automation functions as planned. During this pilot project, it is really helpful to have resources from your software providers or from the development team readily available to make changes and help answer questions. During this pilot, you should also keep track of how the automation is performing versus your expectations. For example, if you expected it to save time, create a way to track the time it saves and report on that metric.After a successful pilot and necessary refinement, you can move on to your full rollout. Create a plan that includes the deployment of the technology, training, feedback, and adjustment. Make sure to also identify the longer-term maintenance strategy that includes continuing to gather feedback and ways to improve the automation over time.There are lots of great publications that go into further detail about each of the steps above, but hopefully this points you in the right direction. Once deployed, automation can be a very powerful tool that augments your team without adding additional FTEs.To discuss this topic more, please feel free to reach out to me at; ai-and-analyticslegal-ops, blog, legal-operations, ai-and-analyticslegal-ops; bloglighthouse
July 30, 2020

All Aboard! Best Practices for Standardizing and Socializing Your eDiscovery Program

Standardizing your eDiscovery program can be a huge benefit to you and your team. With a well-rounded program, you are able to pressure test and layer in repeatable and trackable processes at each stage of the EDRM. This will result in a lower overall cost of eDiscovery and the ability to more accurately forecast spend from matter to matter. Your program will reduce risk, and increase quality, efficiency, and consistency. You will also have the advantage of program-wide metrics and analysis, leading to knowledge that will empower you to make better and more informed litigation and investigation decisions early on, which in turn leads to better outcomes and greater defensibility. Finally, with your program-wide data tracking you will be able to showcase true ROI and other key metrics. It sounds pretty good, right? So, why doesn’t everyone standardize their eDiscovery program? It can be a challenge. There are several hurdles that one may face when trying to socialize and drive the adoption of their program. For example, lack of alignment across key stakeholders and the challenges of trying to build a program while also managing the pressures of ongoing litigation deadlines. You may also have to invest more time and potentially more cost upfront, which can be a resourcing challenge, and you may have to redefine efficiency across multiple teams. Managing expectations across key stakeholders is critical to building a successful program. Change doesn’t happen overnight.How do you go about overcoming these challenges and standardizing your program? I’ve summarized some tips and best practices below for socializing, implementing, and getting your eDiscovery program to be accepted as the standard both within your organization and beyond.Getting StartedTo begin, build one thing at a time. It is important not to bite off more than you can chew. Start with one project, implement it, and carefully review the results. If it is successful, drive adoption internally, and once it is adopted you can get started on the next project or piece of the program. Be sure all of your key stakeholders are involved early on and set up weekly or even monthly strategy sessions with these stakeholders to ensure that everyone has a seat at the table and a voice in program development decisions. Finally, documentation is your single source of truth. Be sure to think about what you are documenting, where you are storing it, when it should be evaluated for updates, and how it will be circulated after these updates are made. More on driving a successful eDiscovery project can be found in this article, Staying on Pointe: Key Lessons eDiscovery Professionals can Learn from Ballet.Ensuring the Right AudienceAs I mentioned above, you need to be sure to involve all key stakeholders when driving the standardization of your eDiscovery program, but how do you make sure you have the right audience? It is different for everyone and will depend on your organization. Typically, I would recommend that you involve your legal operations and finance teams, as well as any other teams with eDiscovery stakeholders. Once you have these folks identified, set up that recurring strategy meeting.Showing ROIWhen it comes to showing ROI you want to be sure to pick what will make an impact within your company. Whether that be risk reduction, cost reduction, efficiency gains, or something else, you want to focus on what matters at your organization. This is where the documentation I mentioned above comes into play. Be sure you are tracking the metrics and results you would like to report on and format them in graphs, charts, and high-level stats that your key stakeholders can take away and share with their teams. Lean on your providers to help you pull metrics and come up with creative ways to display ROI across your program. It is also important to note that your ROI focus may shift over time, so be sure to remain flexible and check-in with leaders on a bi-annual or annual cadence.Socializing & Driving AdoptionSo, you know how to get started, who to involve, and how to show ROI, but how do you socialize and drive adoption? This is the hardest part and will require flexibility. It is important not to design and drop. You have to continue to reiterate the program and processes consistently. Document your processes, track your results, and make sure you build in a regular feedback loop. Ensure you have support from the right people. This can include your internal teams, outside counsel, vendor(s), etc., and can vary depending on your organization. Be open to feedback and revisions as they come along, document those updates, and share them out.To summarize, when looking to standardize and socialize your eDiscovery program, remember to:involve the right folks early on;build one thing at a time;document the processes;show meaningful ROI; andbe open to feedback - a successful program evolves!To discuss this topic further, please feel free to continue the discussion by emailing me at; legal-operationsediscovery-process, blog, ediscovery-review, legal-operationsediscovery-process; blogsarah barsky harlan
November 23, 2020

Automating Legal Operations - A DIY Model

Legal department automation may be top of mind for you like several other legal operations professionals, however, you might be dependent on IT or engineering resources to be able to execute. Or perhaps you are struggling with change management and not able to implement something new. You are not alone. These were the top two blockers to building out an efficient process within legal departments as shared by recent CLOC conference attendees. The good news is that off-the-shelf technologies have advanced to the point where you may not need any time from those resources and may be able to manage automation without needing to change user behavior. With “no code” automation, you can execute end-to-end automation for your legal operations department, yourself!What is “No Code” Automation?As recently highlighted in Forbes magazine, “no-code platforms feature prebuilt drag-and-drop activities and tasks that facilitate integration at the business user level.” This is not “low code” automation that has been around for decades. Low code refers to using existing code, whether from open source or from other internal development, to lower the need to create new code. Low code allows you to build faster but still requires the knowledge of code. In “no code,” however, you do not need to have an understanding of coding. What this really means is that no code platforms are so user-friendly that even a lawyer, or legal operations professional, can create automated actions…I know because I am a lawyer that has successfully done this!But, How Does this Apply in Legal Operations?The short answer is that it lets you, the legal operations professional, automate workflows with little external help. There are some legal departments already taking advantage of this technology. At a recent CLOC conference, Google shared how they had leveraged “no code” automation to remove the change management process for ethics and compliance in the code of conduct, conflict of interest, and anti-bribery and corruption areas. With respect to outside counsel management, Google was similarly able to remove IT/engineering dependencies for conflict waiver approvals, outside counsel engagements, and matter creation. For more details, watch Google describe their no-code automation use cases.Google’s workflow automation is impressive and more mature than those of us who are just starting, so I wanted to share a simple example. A commonplace challenge for smaller legal teams is to manage tasks – ensuring all legal requests are captured and assigned to someone on the legal team. Many teams are dealing with dozens, or hundreds, of emails and it can be cumbersome to look through those to determine who is working on what. Inevitably some of those requests get missed. It is also challenging to then later report on legal requests – e.g., what types of requests the legal team receives daily, how long they take to resolve, and how many requests each person can work on. A “no code” platform can help. For example, you can connect your email to a shared Excel spreadsheet that captures all legal tasks. You would do this by creating a process that has the tool log each email sent to a certain address (e.g. on an Excel spreadsheet in a shared location (e.g. LegalTasks.xls). You would “map” parts of the email to columns in the spreadsheet. For example, you would want to capture the sender, the date, the time, the subject, and the body. You can even ask users who are sending requests into that email to put the type of request in the subject line. Your legal team can then check the shared spreadsheet daily and “check out” tasks by putting their initials in another column. Once complete, they would also mark that on the spreadsheet. Capturing all this information will allow you to see who is working on what, ensure that all requests are being worked on, and use pivot reporting on all legal tasks later on. Although this is a really simple use case with basic tools, it is also one that takes only a few minutes to set up and can measurably improve organization among legal team members.You can use “no code” automation in most areas of legal operations department automation. Some of the most common things to automate with “no code” are as follows:Legal ApprovalsDocument GenerationsEvidence CollectionTracking of Policy AcceptanceMany “no code” companies work with legal departments, so they may have experience with legal operations use cases. Be sure to ask how they have seen their technologies deployed in other legal departments.Can I Really Do This Without Other Departments?About 90% of the work can be done by you or your team, and in some cases, even 100%. However, sometimes connecting the tools or even installing the software has to be done by your IT and development teams. This is particularly true if you are connecting to proprietary software or have a complex infrastructure. This 10% of work required by these teams, however, is much smaller than if you were asking for those resources to create the automations from scratch. In addition, you often do not have to change user behavior so change management is removed as a blocker.I encourage you to explore using “no code” automation in your legal department. Once you start, you’ll be glad you tried. I would be excited to hear your experiences with “no code” in legal operations. If you are using it, drop me a line at and tell me; ediscovery-reviewediscovery-process, legal-ops, blog, legal-operations, ediscovery-reviewediscovery-process; legal-ops; bloglighthouse
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