On a scale of 1-5, where 5 is amazing and 1 is terrible, I’d say my experience is a 5.
Director of Legal Operations
Global healthcare leader changing the trajectory of global health.
A global, diversified health care company headquartered in the U.S. with more than 125,000 employees and operating in 60 countries is the leading provider of health and well-being products. Founded over a century ago, this company is committed to improving global access to affordable healthcare and creating healthier, more environmentally friendly communities worldwide.
That mission requires an agile law department to support its goals in an effective and efficient manner. But measuring effectiveness and efficiency wasn’t as easy as it sounded according to the Director of Legal Operations. “We don’t look at legal spend in and of itself, as that is a function of the level of litigation we are enjoined in.” The legal department knew that all they can really control is the consistency of the outcome in terms of positive results and the costs required to get those results. But just meeting cost-savings numbers doesn’t speak to whether the law department did a good job in any given year.
In 2015, the law department initiated a Global Transformation Project spearheaded by the Director of Legal Operations to create and enhance Law Department operational effectiveness and efficiency. As part of this program, the company selected doeLEGAL’s Ascent ELM™ enterprise legal management software and support as a foundation for law department operations including:
- Mass tort case budgeting and invoice auditing.
- Spend reporting and analytics.
- Matter management and e-billing
To create and enhance law department operational effectiveness and efficiency, the company selected doeLEGAL’s Ascent ELM™ enterprise legal management software and support services and realized:
- Contribution to a 10% annual reduction in legal expenses.
- More effective AFA agreements by leveraging Ascent ELM’s “Portal Analytics”.
- Efficiency improvements in processing and tracking invoice appeals via Ascent ELM’s automated appeals functionality.
- A flexible legal platform upon which to support future innovation.
One of the first problems that the Project team took on was improving how the legal department tracked and analyzed legal outcomes related to the cost effectiveness of wins, settlements, and appeals. The system in place at the time lacked data analytics capabilities, so it was difficult to structure more effective AFA agreements with outside counsel, a key input into improving legal outcomes. It was also challenging to manage timekeepers through the old system in a flexible way that supported other AFA initiatives and implement shadow billing.
As the Project progressed, the team realized that their internal invoice adjustment process was not as efficient as it could be given a lack of automation around how outside counsel could appeal adjustments.
In extending matter management globally, they also discovered that businesses outside the US needed a matter request workflow that allowed them to do business the way they’re used to, rather than having to change their business processes to accommodate the US system.
Bringing the Vision to Life
The Project team knew that updating their legal management technology would be foundational to improving efficiency and effectiveness, and wanted a technology partner who would be a business partner as opposed to simply a vendor. According to the Director of Legal Operations, “It boils down to what the service delivery model looks like. How engaged and supportive are they going to be in a partnership construct. That was the deciding factor for us.”
The company selected doeLEGAL’s Ascent ELM™ enterprise legal management system after a comprehensive evaluation by a cross-functional team consisting of members of the law department, IT and a third-party consulting service that helped them manage the vendor review process.
The Director of Legal Operations observed, “We can pay for any system to do many of the things that doeLEGAL does, but what we really want to do is not spend our time talking about problems, or negotiating about enhancements or upgrades. We just want to focus the conversation on what’s next. How do we do that next thing? How do we accomplish that next challenge? That’s where doeLEGAL stood apart from the competition.”
Making the Program a Reality
With the support of doeLEGAL and including vendor onboarding, template creation, and system integration, the Project team completed the implementation and rollout as originally planned. “The whole project came in on time and on budget, which is unusual around here so that was a big win too.”
The results are exciting:
- Implementing Ascent ELM™ has helped legal operations make steady contributions to the law department’s 10% annual cost reduction goal, which also includes volume discount negotiations, eDiscovery, patent pruning, AFAs, and a new medical records program.
- Leveraging Ascent ELM’s native capabilities as a starting point has helped improve process efficiency throughout the law department. “When we adjusted invoices, we had a process for how vendors submit appeals, but now Ascent ELM™ has a more automated way of doing that, so we worked with doeLEGAL to customize and the resulting process is decidedly better than what we had before.”
- Ascent ELM™ has also allowed the legal department to meet more of their needs within a single system, which helps to reduce costs, improve efficiency and minimize complexity. “Understanding that no platform does everything, it is important to have one that fully meets core functionality and can adapt with evolving requirements while providing practical options for integrating with other applications and systems as needed.”
The law department has continued to evolve and Ascent ELM™ is now being rolled out to other regions as a common global platform, including for matter management. The company is leveraging its full power and is able to adjust Ascent ELM™ to accommodate regional nuances and process needs, rather than expecting each region to change how it does business to fit in with the original US implementation.
The true measure of whether a vendor is a partner doesn’t come on day 1 or year 1, but as you continue to work together. And doeLEGAL continues to be a true partner. On a scale of 1-5, where 5 is “amazing” and 1 is “terrible,” the Director of Legal Operations rates his doeLEGAL experience very highly. “I’d say it’s a 5.”