InsideCounsel magazine (9/07) reports on its annual 10 most innovative law departments.  

Once again, technology played a big or supporting role at several winners. Highlights from 2007’s Most Innovative Legal Departments (PDF) include:

  • To address a shortage of IP lawyers, IBM‘s law department turned to retired IBM lawyers, who “work from their homes and on their own schedules,” supported by an intranet. [This is consistent with my frequent suggestion that law firms facilitate working virtually. See also At I.B.M., a Vacation Anytime, or Maybe None (NY Times, 8/31/07), which notes that “40 percent of I.B.M.’s employees have no dedicated offices, working instead at home, at a client’s site, or at one of the company’s hundreds of ‘mobility centers’ around the world, where workers drop in to use phones, Internet connections and other resources.”]
  • Verizon has developed “a comprehensive e-discovery manual that [guides] lawyers through the process from start to finish.” Coupled with training, the company expects a good ROI.
  • Microsoft applied its software know-how to create a patent classification program that saves its IP lawyers much time.
  • American Express created a tool to evaluate the impact of law firm rate increases on its law department budget. Amex has “has applied for a patent with hopes of licensing the tool to an e-billing vendor.”
  • used an existing content management system to create a prior art database to aid in defending patent suits.

Prior related posts: Innovative Law Departments – 2006, Innovative Law Departments [2005]