The mantra of many a lawyer is “Whatever is new, is wrong”. Some, however, do believe in innovating and welcome new and better ways of working. 

At the College of Law Practice Management annual meeting on September 13th, Fellows heard presentations from the three winners of the 2008 InnovAction award. All three illustrate the value of innovation in the legal market. Here are my notes form the three winners’ presentations.

Novus Law

  • Novus Law, a legal process outsourcing company, won for documenting 864 steps in 94 processes in document discovery to provide a reliable method to predict discovery. All processes are backed by a knowledge management (KM) bank
  • The need that drove this: e-discovery process efficiency is about 22k to 67k defects per million, which equates to an error rate of 4.5%; discovery costs are rising at 3x the CPI and clients already spend more than 50% of their legal budget on it.
  • Novus met with 200+ people in legal market (AmLaw firms, consultants, profs) to develop a blueprint for a service.
  • The company developed an Underwriters Laboratories certified process for efficiency and consistency and earned ISO 9001:2000 certification. UL certification required multiple audits around the world to achieve this
  • In 2008, Novus documented that their document reviews were 34% faster, 75% better, and 81% cheaper. They have done projects for two large law firms
  • Novus management receives 80 quality measures each morning from prior day’s work
  • Enables the process with Web 2.0 collaboration technologies (e.g., wikis), based on SharePoint with a lot of add-ons and some custom programming

Mallesons’ PeopleFind
[I previously blogged about Malleson’s award-winning PeopleFinder system in The Shift from “Client Facing” to “Client Service” Systems]

  • Malleons‘ PeopleFinder directs incoming calls to the best available person. This has resulted in 10,000 more calls being answered each month and measurable improvement in client service. This has yielded an observable service differentiation, recognized by the Australian Client Choice Award for Best Large Law Firm for client responsiveness
  • The problem addressed: Clients communicate by e-mail or phone. When by phone, it’s usually urgent but calls too often go to voice mail or to someone not ideally suited to help in first instance. Every such instance is a lost opportunity for the firm. There is a similar challenge – and productivity loss – internally
  • ROI achieved within 3 months; 98% adoption within the firm
  • Mallesons plans to extend on this work:
    • PeopleFinder for iPhone and call forwarding controls
    • Project Cue: BI (business intelligence) meets phone system – match incoming calls via caller ID to stream client and matter info to desktop of PC associated with ringing phone (like call center)
    • Project ClientEye: Extranet 2.0, real time availability of staff, matter and financial info, info feeds, clients will be able to subscribe to info at granular level

ValueChain – Visual Contracting in Outsourcing – Pilsbury Winthrop

  • The firm won for its patent-pending visual contracting in outsourcing tool
  • Background: Clients ask for help with sourcing issues – minimize cost, increase efficiency, and optimize strategic value. Sectors: BPO – HR, FAO, Facilities, Supply Chain, IT, Tech transactions
  • The challenge: lack of standardization in business functions. This makes it difficult to manage outsourcing, costly to operate it, and fails to provide value to the buyer. Increasingly, multi-sourcing is the favored approach, which makes management of outsourcing relationships even harder.
  • Visual ValueChain solves these problems with a visual display that “maps” all outsourcing relationships to identify gaps and overlaps in services provided by outsourcers. A color coded matrix shows every process, actor, and location. This visual view helps to eliminate inefficiencies; to improves communication and integration; and to draft more accurate SOWs, RFI, RFP, and contracts.
  • Used on 20 major clients valued at > $4 billion. Clients save 10-20% a year over theo course of typical 5 to 7 year contracts