How are law firms and in-house legal departments collaborating to deliver results?

Experts discuss innovative collaboration strategies at Canadian Legal Innovation Forum webinar

How are law firms and in-house legal departments collaborating to deliver results?

Collaboration between law firms, legal departments and third-party partners is key to driving results and maintaining a competitive edge. Experts discussed the latest collaboration strategies at the Canadian Legal Innovation Forum’s ‘Collaboration is the new innovation’ webinar on June 15.

The pandemic has greatly changed and enhanced the way the legal ecosystem collaborates, with the acceleration of video conferencing platforms and new tools to enhance efficiencies in a virtual world.

“The pandemic has been a huge driver of innovation. What would have taken us five years happened within a period of a few months,” said Michael McGinn, manager, innovation at Fasken, who spoke during the webinar. “It was a great period for the change that we needed to actually engage our stakeholders internally and externally to embrace some of the digital tools that we’ve created and implemented. What used to be a luxury in innovation has now become a necessity.”

E-signature tools became commonplace during the pandemic, while office culture changed dramatically with the rise of remote and hybrid work.

Lisa Chamandy, chief knowledge and innovation officer at Borden Ladner Gervais, noted that business services teams are collaborating with other businesses far better since the pandemic, and silos have broken down.

“Our way of doing things in terms of both projects and operational work has really changed, so agile leadership is a big thing for us,” she said. Chamandy noted that BLG is seeing a lot more emphasis on psychological safety, in-design thinking workshops, training programs on building trust agreements and self-awareness, and active listening.

Law firms are changing the way they collaborate internally, with innovations such as BLG Beyond which encompasses a number of different service offerings including a consulting arm with different methods of virtual collaboration. At Fasken, workflows have been improved by creating work allocation portals where corporate services can allocate work efficiently.

Collaboration has always been a major focus within in-house legal departments.

“I think legal departments now are really focused on how do they narrow the funnel of work as much as possible to their own department, and that is through self-service or bots,” said Brenda Hansen, senior legal operations consultant at UpLevel Ops, an advisory firm for in-house legal departments. Through her lens, Hansen noted that legal departments are increasingly using technology to give their internal clients the best information they can before letting them go off on their own, and also outsourcing to alternative legal service providers.

Colin Miller, managing director at FTI Consulting added that teams are collecting and organizing data differently.

“The question has become ‘what do I do with this new form of data, and how do I transform it, and how do I enrich it in a way that allows me to do the things I used to do to make those legal decisions?’ so it has become more advisory in that regard,” said Miller. The change in data is forcing people to innovate very quickly, Miller added.

Collaboration is critical when it comes to cybersecurity so the team at Fasken have developed a collaborative privacy protection program for their clients.

“The Fasken Edge site helps our clients operationalize their program, and document in a centralized platform their compliance to legal obligations, so that helps them put together the tools that they need to really implement the program itself,” said Bernadette Sarazin, a data strategy advisor in the emerging technologies group at Fasken. “It increases the efficiency with which we collaborate with the client because we both have access to the interactive documents, or results that stem from maturity and risk assessments for example, and all of the other tools that are needed to implement privacy within an organization.”

The speakers agreed that collaboration has never been more critical across the legal ecosystem.

 “We need to be a little more intentional when we’re collaborating in the hybrid world,” said Hansen.

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