Clifford Chance reduces tech toolkit from 25 to 3

Clifford Chance has reduced the technology toolkit that it presents fee-earners with day-to-day from around 25 different systems to three – Kira Systems; Relativity; and transaction management platform Workshare Transact – with engagement said to be “through the roof” as a result. The reduced toolkit is part of Clifford Chance’s best delivery strategy, which focuses on making sure that fee-earners are using the right tools in order to optimise value for clients.

The magic circle firm’s former toolkit consisted of everything from contract analytics to document automation, but global head of innovation and business change, Bas Boris Visser, told Legal IT Insider: “That’s a bit overwhelming and nobody is going to use the tools we have unless we are very focussed and clear about it, so we made a big change in the way we rolled out our best delivery strategy by focussing on a limited number of tools and ways of working so that people can focus on a limited number of things to get used to them.”

The firm opted for the reduced toolkit approach in the autumn of 2017 and Visser added: “That doesn’t mean the other tools disappear by any means, but by focusing on those three, engagement levels have gone through the roof.”

Law firms are finding that in order to engage lawyers at the start of a transaction they need a fairly robust infrastructure in place and Visser added: “User engagement has gone up over 100%.

“Transact is used in almost every finance transaction in Amsterdam compared to half a year ago, when we didn’t use it at all. In 2018 we’ve moved from a push culture to a pull culture: the lawyers are now really asking us to deliver these tools because it makes a big difference to them.”

Clifford Chance’s best delivery strategy aims to transform the way it works by looking at the entire transaction process and ensuring that the right resource is being used to for the right work, whether that be using a nearshore or offshore centre; alternative legal services provider such as Axiom or Thomson Reuters; or working with project managers internally. Visser said: “We’re moving away from the traditional law firm set up where you look 10 square metres around in your team – we can probably all agree that is not the best way to do things if you want to find the best value.”

The emphasis of the best delivery strategy is to create as much awareness of new ways of working and build them into lawyers’ days. Visser observed: “Best delivery is not separate: it has to be part of our day-to-day operation. Clients are not interested in the name of the programme but want to get more value.

“This is about change management: if you’re used to working in the same way for many years it’s not going to change of itself. So, we’ve set up this important limb of our strategy. We have a team of 80 people who spend almost all their time supporting the best delivery strategy. That’s a significant investment and we see the need for that because, for example, if you want people used to doing due diligence in the old way and you suddenly say you’re going to use Kira, you can’t just expect it will happen.”

Clifford Chance has best delivery hubs in Singapore, New York, Dubai, Continental Europe, and London, and in addition to the dedicated team, has introduced ‘best delivery champions’ who are partners responsible for helping to execute that part of the strategy.

Visser said: “You need people on the ground. We have a legal technology support team headed by Anthony Vigneron that delivers that type of support, so they can explain what it’s about, why it’s better, how does it work. That requires support in the many areas in which we operate.

“We’ve worked out things by doing things right and wrong: you need to learn that if you want people to engage you need to make sure the infrastructure works well and the access is easy.”

As we first revealed in July, Clifford Chance has approved a change of structure that will see it house and grow its subscription-based digital services out of a separate venture called Clifford Chance Applied Solutions. You can read more on that here: https:// creates-separate-venture-to-house-and-grow-digital- products/