Corporate Counsel magazine named the General Electric law department as best of the year. Home-grown technology was a key factor the editors considered. 

All Systems Go (Corporate Counsel, 4/18/07) reports that the GE law department has developed many interesting applications, including a web-based questionnaire to help select outside counsel, deal rooms, work flow systems, systems to share work product, and digital dashboards. The article does not detail the underlying technology.

The article also focuses on processes GE uses, particularly Early Case Assessment. ECA, along with alternate dispute resolution (ADR) and tracking case cycle times “have resulted in a dramatic drop in litigation and fees over the last four years. GE says its litigation costs fell from $120.5 million in 2002 to $69.3 in 2005.” That’s a big savings: $50 million, over 40%.

Two comments:
(1) I’ve previously written about ECA, especially litigation risk analysis with decision trees. It would be interesting to know how big a role (if any) decision trees play in GE’s ECA.
(2) I can’t tell if the enormous cost savings are a result of ECA+ADR+tracking or merely correlated with them. If this is a causation and not correlation, then other companies should rush to adopt these approaches.