Just as cybersecurity technology firm CrowdStrike has built its business model on the cloud, General Counsel Cathleen Anderson knew she wanted a legal department equipped for the cloud era. She brought in a new VP of Legal, Ron Wills, to develop a legal support model in keeping with CrowdStrike’s innovative ethos that leverages artificial intelligence, speed, and efficiency to deliver value to customers. Anderson’s team, which also includes Sr. Manager of Legal Innovation & Operations Shawn Cassatt, set out to build a platform that integrates legal and enterprise applications, and harnesses knowledge and data to deliver a broad—and growing—array of legal services.
“We are reinventing the way we conduct legal work by putting technology at the heart of how we work and scale. This is allowing us to maximize resources and quickly pivot our energy to our most critical business needs while also automating or delegating non-critical tasks. As we have looked for ways to evolve, it has become clear there are numerous opportunities to tap the cloud solutions already in our corporate arsenal to achieve changes we know are needed,” Wills says.
Teaming up with legal operations expert Eugene Kim, formerly of Elevate and now founder of ScaLegal, CrowdStrike Legal set out to architect a cloud-native legal service delivery model to transform the way the 40-person department does its work. Rolled out in 2020, the platform incorporates a portfolio of customized legal workflows powered by different cloud solutions tied together with analytics and reporting that are run out of a consolidated legal “data lake” that communicates with each of the connected services.
“We ingratiated ourselves with the enterprise application development teams to design with us in mind,” says Wills. “We really evangelize not using legal-specific solutions when there are general business platforms that can be tailored to handle legal use cases. Because we already use many of the same applications as the business, including Salesforce and ServiceNow, this approach accelerated our integrations with other teams and stakeholders since we were all working from a common toolset.”
CrowdStrike employees engage the Legal Team through user-friendly self-service interfaces: one for commercial and one for general legal guidance. Requests submitted through either interface are trackable and reportable, giving requestors and responders greater visibility into their matters and means for communicating throughout the service request lifecycle. The General Counsel and leadership can monitor status and trends using a business intelligence dashboard powered by the data lake that connects each cloud application being leveraged for legal work.
To inform the development of the platform, the legal team first cataloged and analyzed all of their tasks to better understand workload and document underlying processes. Then they looked for inefficiencies to automate or eliminate. In many cases, they were able to configure existing technology to best meet end users’ needs. Kim, who is experienced in legal process design, helped to break the work into stages or “minimum viable products.” The plan focused on getting the basics working, using off-the-shelf toolsets, and then layering on additional features.
“That paced us,” says Wills, who acknowledges that it was easy to get preoccupied by the technology options involved. He also noted that the project’s change management needs were “eye opening,” particularly after launching with over a dozen workflows. “In an initiative this size, sometimes you need to be smart about where you compromise while still making sure you get the most out of the system being built,” he says.
Getting buy-in for a change in the legal support model came down to being able to demonstrate the power of tracking volume, velocity and value of the legal work being performed. Because the various platform components (eBilling, eDiscovery, contract management, compliance and general legal workflows) connect to a centralized cloud data repository, the team gained insights that prompted process simplification and delegation of low complexity tasks, freeing up time for higher-value work.
“It lets the lawyers get back to lawyering,” says Wills.
The platform also includes a knowledge management database. It integrates legal guidance with answers to commonly asked questions and provides training within the same user interface in which legal requests are created and managed. The universal search bar on the homepage can suggest answers to a legal question, identify an applicable policy, or pinpoint the most relevant request workflow. To promote adoption and ease of use, training checklists and videos are built into each workflow, creating a fully self-contained user experience.
The overarching goal is for all legal tasks to be initiated within the platform and tracked so patterns will emerge. That data is used to identify tasks that can be automated, reassigned, eliminated, or outsourced. Thus far, administrative overhead from email-based legal requests has been reduced by 80 percent and data processing volumes cut in half for eDiscovery.
Self-service functionality has been implemented for 100 percent of negotiated sales-side transactions, with approved templates that can be sent directly for signature or negotiation without up-front legal involvement or attorneys’ fees. An estimated seventy-five percent of legal work has been moved from inboxes to monitored workflows, reducing costs to end users and providing real-time analytics on volume and complexity. Within the next year, Wills expects to have enough data and predictability to negotiate value-based discounts with outside counsel based on the volume and complexity of work.