Kate Cheetham, group general counsel at Lloyds Banking Group (pictured) gives Legal IT Insider an inside view of how technology is helping her team to deliver its key strategic priorities and goals; in what way law firms are impressing her and her team; and how they could do better.
What are some of the main challenges you face in delivering legal services to the business?
Working in-house for a major financial services company clearly has its challenges. There’s been a huge amount of legal and regulatory change over the last few years, and that looks set to continue as we move towards the EU exit. But this is also a great opportunity for the legal team to work with the business and deliver for the Group. We recently launched our vision for “Brilliant Business Partnering” to make sure we are working on those priorities that our businesses consider most important and to deliver in the best way possible. We continue to improve how the legal function performs internally; internal feedback is very good but we still have scope to improve further and the use of technology will assist in driving improvements and better collaboration.
As a legal team, what are your key strategic priorities and goals?
The Group’s Legal team provides solutions, risk management and legal and market insight to all divisions within the Group. It is instrumental in the effective implementation of the Group’s strategy to become the best bank for customers and shareholders and in our aim to help the UK economy to prosper.
Are there examples of where technology is helping you to deliver those goals?
We recently introduced our new matter management system [Visualfiles], giving us better centralised storage of our matters and better management information on all our matters. Our in-house legal team is of a substantial size and we are spread across different business divisions across the UK and internationally. We therefore needed an improved central database of our legal matters which avoids duplication and makes data easy to share and locate as well as providing better insight and reporting on the work that we do.
We have also started to use an internal colleague communicator tool called “Hive.” We are setting up a private legal colleague forum in which we can discuss and share ideas and information in a quick, discussive manner and then share this with the wider businesses that we serve without the need to use emails or sending large files online. Again this has driven efficiencies in the business and is a far more collaborative and open way of working.
Technology tools are also very important in managing litigation efficiently and effectively – particularly e-disclosure tools, including predictive coding.
More generally, we also hold a regular legal technology forum for our legal colleagues to discuss and assess latest innovations that are being introduced to the market. This is a helpful way to not only knowledge share but also discuss market updates. We continue to explore future options to increase the use of technology. We plan to implement a complete e-billing solution next year, which again will give us significantly more management information and improve transparency and efficiency.
Do law firms currently offer sufficient support to enable you to collaborate with them?
We are seeing more investment from firms to collaborate in a more efficient manner including using portals and extranet sites but there is still quite a way to go to use technology fully and create a more efficient, dynamic working environment between law firms, other third party specialist providers and in house legal teams.
What examples of innovation or initiatives from law firms have really impressed you?
The key advances to date have been in relation to e-discovery (including predictive coding), automation of certain types of documentation and developing artificial intelligence for tasks such as discovery, document review and due diligence. However, technological innovation has by no means been embraced by all firms. I would say that the sector as a whole is on a technological transformation journey but it is still very early days. Certainly more firms need to make these investments and actively plan to deliver legal services in a different way in the future.
Do you reward, encourage and measure law firm innovation?
Yes. Use of innovation is a key factor when we decide which law firms will be ‘core firms; i.e. our strategic partners and it is also something we assess and measure on an ongoing basis with our panel of law firms. It is an important part of the culture as well as a commercial imperative for the legal team and the Group – and therefore for our law firms too.
This article first appeared in the October Legal IT Newsletter. Sign up for your free copy here: http://www.legaltechnology.com//latest-newsletter/