Former RB GC Claire Debney talks transformation and automation

This September, former RB group GC Claire Debney will start at pharmaceutical giant Shire in a newly-created role of director of legal strategy, part of which will see her overhaul the FTSE 100 company’s intranet and look at contract automation.
Shire in January agreed a $32bn merger with Baxalta and part of Debney’s role will be to help apply technology to bring the global in-house legal team together. She has been brought in by former RB boss Bill Mordan, who joined Shire in June 2015 as general counsel and company secretary.
One of Debney’s first priorities will be learning and development, including building a high-functioning intranet to facilitate crossjurisdictional communication and networking.
Debney told Legal IT Insider: “There is currently no proper intranet and we will be finding innovative ways of sharing information across different time zones and disease groups. The intranet needs to be engaging and we need to build a Shire wiki to answer the ‘how do we do this’ and ‘where do we find this’ questions.” Debney, who at RB turned to ContractExpress to automate many of the in-house legal team’s contracts and create a searchable contract repository, will also be looking at automation. She said: “For me it’s a reflection of Bill’s investment in his people.”
A major part of her role will be building a L&D academy and continuing the Mosaic mentoring scheme that Debney started at RB. She said: “If you give people opportunity and power and learning they will come to the table engaged about delivering legal services and that’s when the technology can come into play. You should never divorce the people from the process.”
Debney’s role at Shire is part-time as she is also developing her own transformation consultancy Luminopex, which will help with mentoring in-house teams and advising them on using technology.
She said: “If we have a line-up of lawyers against a wall in 10 years’ time it will look vastly different. General counsel are on the ascendant, they really are.”
This article first appeared in Legal IT Insider’s July/August newsletter.
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