Legal tech software is often viewed as a definitive solution. Your in-house team goes through the arduous exercise of making a business case to onboard the tech and convincing the ELT it will be worth the cost. Then comes the actual implementation and dealing with some resistance from the more traditional lawyers, not to mention the many other business members who still prefer sending legal an email or text over using the intake system. Realistically, you might have some software issues you need to raise with the provider, and finally, voilà, you have an efficient, digitized legal team and have crossed the legal tech implementation finish line. Or have you?
Most General Counsels and in-house counsel think the process ends there, but, realistically, if you want to maximize the efficacy of your chosen legal tech and personalize the software to your business and team, you’re only halfway.
Devin Jensen, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel and former General Counsel of Silgan Dispensing Systems, took process optimization to another level. While most of LawVu's customers follow the steps above, Jensen and his team went through three iterations of the software to create the most streamlined way of working - by choice. But the first thing they did to ensure optimization began before even choosing a legal tech provider was to establish their own DIY contract triaging system.
It is common for legal teams to face resistance from both their lawyers and business members who are wary of change when implementing legal tech. By creating a triaging system for contracts, Jensen’s team was one step ahead of the game in dealing with this problem as their business had already dipped its toes into legal intake. They created a Google site that required filling out a request form and inputting the relevant information, much like the LawVu intake system. “We had already started training the business to do intake with contracts. Legal tech was the next progression,” explains Jensen.
His initial driver for onboarding legal software at Silgan was to finesse their DIY contract management system due to having a small in-house team and an overwhelming number of contracts. Yet as they became accustomed to using LawVu for contract management, they began to see the value in integrating matter management into the software. It wasn’t long before they made the call to iterate the software to integrate all their legal communications into the platform, expanding contract and matter categories.
“We put a lot of detail and thought into what data we wanted in the system for the various types of contracts that we defined, and then the various types of matters that we defined,” says Jensen. Separate intake categories for types of contracts and matters were created. But the level of detail proved to be overly complicated for users and was taking up time rather than streamlining the legal intake system, so the team decided on another iteration, which is currently underway, the intention being to simplify things for both users and the legal team.
A general intake form with a small number of questions will address every request. Based on the answer to those questions, follow-up requests for information will come next via human conversation between the user and the legal team. “We won't move things out of the intake until those additional questions are answered,” says Jensen, “but that way we're able to at least get the matters into the system quicker and easier.” The team can determine from the further conversations if they can provide the user with a legal template or take the matter further if it requires legal expertise.
Jensen has a real knack for customizing legal tech to make it fun for its end-users. Instead of keeping the standard button labeled ‘IP issues’, Jensen customized it to say, ‘I have a great idea to protect,’ or ‘I need to share Confidential Information.’ This may seem small, but it personalizes the user experience which creates better engagement.
“The biggest learnings we've gone through is to make it simple for the users and yourself upfront, and then collect additional information after you get the basics,” says Jensen. By being critical of how the software is serving the business and legal team after the implementation, Silgan has been able to innovate and iterate the tech to create an optimized legal function. LawVu has become a touchpoint for Silgan, but not without the participation of both the tech provider and the business working together to configure the software to best suit the needs of Silgan.