InsideCounsel magazine (formerly Corporate Counsel) reports on 10 innovative law departments in what appears now to be an annual feature. 

The 10 Most Innovative Legal Departments in Corporate America (Sept. 2006, PDF) focuses on new but simple solutions to common law department problems. This year, like last (blog post on 2005 top 10), 5 of the 10 involve technology:

  • Pfizer’s anti-counterfeiting effort relies on a collaborrative system with a customized taxonomy.
  • Kraft’s reversal of a long-standing policy against joint ventures includes “an online guide, which provides users with criteria Kraft uses to evaluate and approve joint ventures… It also includes a number of downloadable legal forms.”
  • BMO Financial improves communication to business clients via a series of line-of-business specific “legal micro-sites” on business unit home pages to provide tailor-made information for each business.
  • Lucent’s “knowledge management renaissance” is driven by a wiki.
  • Verizon created an e-discovery team that gained control of the process, lowered costs, and improved consistency.

These further reinforce the conclusion I drew last year that law departments are increasingly sophisticated about technology and that good solutions typically do not require creating software from scratch.