BT appoints head of legal governance systems and change to drive internal tech strategy

David Griffin has joined BT as head of legal governance systems and change, reporting to Chris Fowler, who in July this year took up the role of BT’s general counsel for technology and transformation, as BT legal looks set to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to delivering its services.

Fowler, who focussed on technology and transformation long before he was given that title officially, has charged Griffin with forming a clear internal tech strategy and vision for the progressive in-house team.

Griffin, who was previously domain architect at Deutsche Bank told Legal IT Insider: “My remit is to look at what we already have in place and then really see what strategy we need as an organisation, looking at things holistically. A lot of organisations just go from project to project rather than formulate a strategy but Chris and I want to work out what our goal is and be able to present a cohesive vision to the organisation as to how we get there.”

The focus for Griffin is inward looking as opposed to external and he told us: “We’ll make sure we’re providing the right tools for all our legal team to be successful, including working out what we’ve got that’s good today and what we may need in the future.”

He adds: “I want to know how the lawyers see their systems and technology and how it’s viewed internally and I’ll be getting their ideas and viewpoints on that. Understanding how the lawyers see and view tech gives me the best idea of what do going forward.”

Griffin joined Deutsche Bank in 2009 when for a while he was the IT department. Things may have moved on in IT terms but the people element remains the same, as he tells us: “Listening and learning is important because what I learned at Deutsche Bank is that if you try to force change it will be resisted – it’s about working with the lawyers and understanding their needs to enable them to support the business.”

As in-house teams (much like law firms) start to work out the real value of the data they are sitting on, a key part of Griffin’s remit will be working out a data strategy, and he says: “The data the legal department holds is valuable. That shift in mindset is a lot easier to argue due to the ability of technology to aid the likes of document review. Coming from a background of looking at what you can do with what you’ve got, and now with technology being able to get it for you in a contextual way, it’s mind-blowing. You can really start to look at what the value proposition is.”

At Deutsche Bank Griffin’s achievements include introducing global matter management system Team Connect, on top of which the team was able to build a coherent data strategy. He was also instrumental in rolling out a homegrown contract management system.

BT, which recently has been working with Elevate Services on a best practice spend management initiative, has long been ahead of the curve when it comes to analysing and automating its processes and using technology to help increase efficiency.

In 2014 it brought in Axiom to replace UnitedLex for managed legal services and was one of the earliest to use a triage or ‘front door policy’ to direct work to the appropriate lawyer or LPO depending on its complexity. In 2016 BT began rolling out an automated online decision framework to triage work coming into the department.

One of the early adopters of iManage RAVN, BT currently uses SharePoint for document management but is known to be in an extensive pilot with NetDocuments.

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