Innovative Law Departments
The September Corporate Legal Times features The CLT Ten: 10 innovative law department practices. One-half involve technology.
Here is a brief overview of the five innovations that use technology:
1. Bidding Wars: GE’s uses online auctions (see my prior post).
2. Staying on Track: For years, Countrywide Financial lawyers have monitored legal developments in their practices. The department recently created the New Legal Requirements Tracking Database to track all updates. NLRTD also provides “Countrywide with a complete, step-by-step account of the entire process of complying with new laws and regulations.”
3. Operation Cobalt is a Chevron initiative to manage litigation and push “ownership” of cases to business units. It will soon include an extranet that supports almost all aspects of the litigation process.
4. The Miracle Workers describes how Rib-X Pharmaceuticals wanted to make smarter decisions about inventions for which to seek patents. The law department created a financial model using Excel.
5. Mirco-Management: Microsoft’s law department created custom software (based on MS SharePoint and MS InfoPath) to track small projects that were not big enough to be entered into the law department’s matter management system.
I draw a couple of conclusions from this. One is that law departments are becoming more sophisticated in their use of technology. Another is that law departments don’t have to create new software from scratch. With the exception of Microsoft, the other innovators appear to have used off-the-shelf software (e.g., auctions, Excel) or created applications using a common platform (e.g., Notes).
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