Group of winners from around the world (Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, USA) set the standard for legal innovation for corporate legal departments
Washington - The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) announced its 2022 ACC Value Champions, recognizing eight law departments with four external partners for their innovative approaches to increase efficiencies and cost savings. As global regulation and competition increases, combined with law departments continually being asked to do more with less, this group of winners found ways to apply well-leveraged data, streamlined processes, innovative technologies, and creative new operating models to help their departments and organizations meet new and emerging challenges.
“The 2022 ACC Value Champions are an international group of honorees and highlight the global importance of legal innovation in today’s modern corporate law departments,” said Tori Payne, vice president and chief membership officer for ACC. “A global pandemic and constantly changing global regulations and business environments are forcing legal departments and the organizations they serve to be agile and creative. This impressive group of law departments and partners demonstrated multiple ways to develop and implement transformative solutions to increase the scope and efficiency of the legal services they provide.”
Since 2012, the ACC Value Champions program has highlighted corporate law departments that innovate to optimize legal service delivery for corporations. This year’s Champions hail from around the world in a variety of various sectors, including finance, automotive, fast food, and include several repeat Champions.
A panel of past honorees and Legal Operations professionals selected the following 2022 ACC Value Champions:
Western Union (Denver, CO), Husch Blackwell (Madison, WI), and Evisort (San Mateo, CA) – “Winning With Procurement for CLM Transformation” - The Western Union (WU) legal team knew a change was imperative to keep up with the speed of the functional areas and business units it supported. Specifically, gaps in its prior review process, such as lost time recreating legal documents or language due to the lack of strong systems and processes to preserve such resources. Led by in-house counsel Debbie Hoffman, that change came in the form of a multi-stakeholder CLM (contract lifecycle management) initiative that brought together members of WU’s legal and procurement teams, technology vendor Evisort, and law firm Husch Blackwell. To address the above, WU Legal engaged Husch Blackwell to develop a library of contract templates, playbooks, and processes. Legal also engaged Evisort to implement a modern CLM platform with integration into the company’s workday system. Evisort allowed procurement to build a contract with the appropriate template and playbook to send to a vendor. In the first year of the collaboration, the team decreased outside legal spend by 18 percent. The savings in year two are forecasted at almost 70 percent. Concurrently, they’ve broken volume records on contracts reviewed by the company, all while reducing average contract execution time by 65 percent. Not only saving time and money, but also strengthening relationships with procurement and turning it into a competitive advantage.
UBS (Zürich, Switzerland; Winners of the 2021 Value Champion award) – “Digital Center of Competence - FinSA Platform” - UBS’s Legal Regulatory Change team launched a RegChange Digital Center of Competence in 2020. The small team of lawyers based at the bank’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland drove the initiative with support by its legal operations unit. It consists of easily and independently readable Q&A’s of collected and curated legal know-how, tailoring the often heavy-to-read, time-consuming, highly technical and abstract legal documents to the needs of the daily business. It also combines various ways of getting the required legal advice via an intelligently structured browse function providing results of legal advice that are applied to specific UBS scenarios, explaining how the regulation was implemented. It is estimated that a single Q&A saves at least 15 minutes of lawyer’s time. As per May 2022, and calculated over a period of 17 month, the total usage was 150 unique users a month, with around 3’550 hits or 200/month, creating 890 number of saved hours or 50 hours/month.
Cognizant (Teaneck, NJ) – “Cognizant Legal Operations Enhancement Project” – Cognizant’s legal operations enhancement project saw six successes in 2021/2022. The organization was able to expand its legal operations department from one to seven associates. They increased visibility into legal department spending by designing and distributing monthly outside counsel spend reports, quarterly budget reports, quarterly business reviews and annual budget presentations, which overall improved the legal department’s financial reporting. The enhancement project also saw the development of the legal department’s knowledge, vendor, and invoice management programs along with investments in technology that saw the department’s outside counsel fees reduce about 60 percent from the previous year.
CrowdStrike (Sunnyvale, CA) – “Sustaining Growth During Digital Transformation: Evolving from Multi-Tasking to Multi-Staffing” - Scaling legal support to keep pace with CrowdStrike’s industry-leading growth required launching an entire portfolio of cloud-based legal workflows in 2021, spanning nearly every practice area in its legal department. This now two-time value champion partnered with FactorLaw to stand-up a flexible, multi-time zone staffing solution consisting of both attorney and non-attorney legal professionals who were cross-trained on multiple workstreams. CrowdStrike and Factor identified specific workflows (for example, eBilling and negotiation of NDAs) that could be assigned exclusively to Factor, while in other cases Factor was able to take on discrete tasks or phases of a larger workflow (such as third-party diligence), serving as a force-multiplier for the core legal team. The result was a 75 percent reduction in time-to-delivery of new workflows, and an estimated 60 percent decrease in development costs.
Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (Herndon, VA) and Thomson Reuters (Eagan, MN) – “Legal Tracker Advanced – Improving the Rate Increase Process with Streamlined Workflow and Powerful Data Analytics to Deliver Savings” - The legal team launched a new initiative to process rate increase requests more effectively for 2022 and beyond. First, they established a more centralized, uniform approach, managed by legal operations with strategic guidance from the legal department’s leadership team. They then improved the intake process. The firms were asked to submit increases within a designated window of time and through Legal Tracker (now Legal Tracker Advanced), which has powerful analytics to assess past rate increase history, as well as internal and external benchmarking comparisons. Within this framework, the team also applied an enlightening new metric - Compound Annual Growth Rate. This figure shows a multi-year view of a law firm’s rate increase history, accounting for past increases and rate freezes. The VWGoA Team also found it very helpful to use Legal Tracker data to model the dollar impact of the requested increases per timekeeper for the coming year. This was instrumental in identifying the specific timekeeper increases most impacting costs. Using these metrics, VWGoA’s legal leadership and legal operations teams were able to implement more effective governance and decision logic to streamline the rate decisions in light of portfolio metrics and company financial considerations.
Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) – “NTU's Legal Technology Revolution” - As part of the legal and compliance team's (LSO) vision to be Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) legal architect, LSO constantly explores initiatives to innovate, improve, and simplify legal and compliance processes. Taking into consideration feedback received from their stakeholders, LSO embarked on various initiatives to improve efficiency and overall effectiveness of the legal and compliance function. These initiatives included: the implementation of the board portal, a board and meeting management platform, the LSO chatbot (Just Ask Law, which provides accessibility to routine legal and compliance solutions), electronic request for approvals and signing of contracts (eRAS), online whistleblowing forms, LSO intranet revamp project, and robotic automation processes. These all focused on supporting NTU’s digitalization efforts. Since creating and initiating the launch of an online and mobile legal services solution (“LSOnline”) in March 2020, LSO continues to successfully maintain and manage, record, and track the University’s legal requests in a streamlined fashion. The platform has received 100% adoption and support from stakeholders, there have been significant operational efficiencies – with over 117 meetings a year involving over 311 attendees, the Platform saves over 1,872 man-hours per year in preparing Board meeting packs, and lastly the implementation of the Platform is aligned with NTU’s sustainability manifesto by enabling paperless meetings and board resolutions.
Equitable (New York, NY) and Wolters Kluwer (Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands)- “Equitable Matter Management and Outside Counsel Re-engineering Project” - In 2019, Equitable’s head of legal operations, Mike Lordi, laid out a strategy for an aggressive five-year modernization strategy with the primary goal of transitioning the company’s law department into a modern, innovative, proactive, streamlined, and highly efficient organization through: stabilization of existing infrastructure and elimination of risk, replacing inefficient or ineffective legacy technology, reducing and reinvesting 3rd party spend, process efficiency and reduction of manual hours, operational centralization of all vendors, projects and technology, and enforcement of Equitable’s diversity policies for procurement. To date, this technology modernization project has yielded several cost-saving results, including; reduced outside counsel expenses by 5 percent YTD, reduced time of invoice review by 25 percent for invoices over $5,000, reduced time of invoice review by 100 percent for invoices under $5,000 (~2,400 hours annually), 100 percent offshore reduction, increased speed to payment by 20 percent (YTD), and ensuring 5 percent quick pay discount applied to invoices. Not to mention several other additional beneficial outcomes beyond the cost savings detailed above.
Craveable Brands (Perth, Australia)- “LawVu Implementation” – Nicola Gannon, senior manager and corporate lawyer at Craveable Brands, sourced and managed the implementation of a document and contract management system, LawVu. LawVu provides their business with greater access to the legal team, greater access to information and legal knowledge in a user-friendly way, while also allowing the legal team to have full visibility across the legal team to all information linked to a matter. Nicola has also overseen the creation of 'contract wizards' for their franchising documents which allows the suite of franchise documents to be automatically populated saving the team significant time in the drafting of each set of required franchise documents. For this legal team, the BAU work is retail leasing and franchising as they handle the leasing and franchising work for the restaurant network for three iconic brands across Australia, totaling nearly 600 restaurants. With a growth strategy being employed by the business, the implementation of the new system has allowed the legal team of 6 lawyers to continue to provide a quality service to the business, despite the increasing volume of work.
About the ACC Value Challenge: The ACC Value Challenge, launched in 2012, has provided resources and training for in-house counsel and law firm lawyers to help affect change within the legal industry. By re-aligning relationships and promoting value-based fee arrangements and other management tactics, such as project management, process improvement, efficient use of technology and knowledge management tools, the market for the delivery of legal services benefits from the same insights and wisdom upon which every other service industry relies to provide world-class value to their clients. For more information, visit www.acc.com/valuechallenge.
About ACC: The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is a global legal association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations and other organizations through information, education, networking, and advocacy. With more than 45,000 members in 85 countries employed by over 10,000 organizations, ACC connects its members to the people and resources necessary for both personal and professional growth. By in-house counsel, for in-house counsel.® For more information, visit www.acc.com and follow ACC on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.