Law department profile: Siemens leverages technology to drive business

Legal department joins forces with external counsel to pilot new technology and build efficiencies

Law department profile: Siemens leverages technology to drive business
Shawna-Leigh Moulton

As many legal departments face budget restraints, making use of new technology to improve efficiencies and reduce costs can be a powerful way to demonstrate the value of in-house counsel. With that in mind, Siemens Canada’s legal department has focused on seeking out and implementing the latest tech and AI systems to enhance business objectives.  

“It really helps us create efficiencies within our group so we can spend more time on matters that have more risk or have more importance to the business,” says Shawna-Leigh Moulton, director of governance and legal operations at Siemens. 

Among the many technology systems used successfully within the legal department, an e-billing system was recently adopted to consolidate all bills from law firms and to provide a central system for lawyers to approve invoices. 

“This enables us to see our total spend,” says Moulton, who works closely with general counsel Richard Brait. “We can break it down in terms of which firms we are paying and what kind of discount we are getting from each firm and the type of work they did, so we get really good metrics that we bring to internal management to show the value of our outside counsel spend.” 

Document management system iManage was recently rolled out to consolidate correspondence and allow the team to work more collaboratively by using a central repository for files. In addition, toolkits were created to provide a direct information line that can be accessed by all departments to answer legal questions, in order to reduce the number of emails sent to the legal team. Siemens’ legal operations manager, Grant Jackman, created the toolkits to allow the team to spend more time on business and less on answering repeated questions.  

Technology is a major consideration when it comes to working with external counsel. Siemens will often leverage systems or participate in pilots that are being tested by its three primary law firm partners, to cut down on costs and maximize exposure to new systems.  

“Technology helps to determine which firm we would use for a specific project because some firms may be experts in one type of technology while other firms would be experts in another, so we are able to select based on our needs,” says Jackman. “If they are piloting something, we will try to be part of that pilot and use some of our contract to try the systems they are testing.” 

In one recent example, a specific type of technology was needed to save time and reduce costs, so the team at Siemens reached out to a firm that had the relevant technology. 

“This saved us many hours of man-power and probably thousands of dollars because they had the technology to help us finish the project,” says Jackman. 

To gain a deeper understanding of technology used by law firms, Siemens recently participated in a technology-focused “reverse secondment” with partner firm Stikeman Elliott LLP.  

After interviewing two potential candidates, Stikeman chose Jackman to fill the role of legal technology applications lawyer for a two-month stint. The position included participating in the piloting of two different tech tools — a decision tree tool and a contract analysis due diligence tool.  

“It was extremely useful, not only to see how our law firms engage with technology but for me to get my hands on that tech, and to bring that experience back to Siemens was invaluable,” says Jackman. The secondment enabled Jackman to advance legal operations and create more efficient systems within his legal department. Stikeman also benefitted from the work that Jackman did. The team gained a deeper understanding into the needs of a client while they recruited a permanent candidate for the role.  

“Seeing technology through a client’s eyes was very useful and insightful for us,” says Andrea Alliston, a partner at Stikeman. “It allowed me to have a better understanding of what Siemens needs when it comes to legal technology tools that they might be interested in and the constraints they face.” 

Both Stikeman and Siemens hope to repeat the experience in the future. 

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