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LegalNovember 18, 2021

ELM Amplify: How one company built a 21st century law department

ELM Amplify 2021, the ELM Solutions annual user conference, took place online from October 26 through 28. This event is available for on-demand viewing here, and we continue to highlight some of the sessions that were presented.

The theme of this year’s ELM Amplify conference—Be Boundless—reflects a legal operations industry that has been set free and empowered by innovative thinking and technologies. Few companies embraced this theme like Equitable, one of the United States’ leading financial services companies and a 2021 Legal Innovator of the Year award winner.

In a session titled CLD Modernization Success Story, Equitable’s Head of Law Department Operations, Mike Lordi, and Head of Strategy and Project Development, Dana Harris, were tasked with creating, in the words of their general counsel, a “21st-century law department” that was more efficient, innovative, and streamlined. They shared how they created a multiyear plan to modernize their company's law department, resulting in improved performance and efficiency.

Researching the challenge and getting executive buy-in

Equitable wanted to take project and technology management out of the hands of attorneys so they could focus on more productive and value-added tasks. Reaching that goal was challenging since many of the tools the company's lawyers were using were outdated and often painful to use.

The team began with a highly detailed technology survey assessing technology shortcomings and distributed to members of Equitable’s practice groups. This allowed them to present Equitable’s general counsel with measurable analytics that showed technological weaknesses and pinpointed where the company needed to focus its modernization efforts.

Building a multiyear roadmap and accounting for unforeseen impacts

Equitable’s legal operations team then created a multiyear technology roadmap that prioritized technology investments by need, potential ROI, and ease of implementation. The team adopted the Marine Corps. motto "improvise, adapt, and overcome" and applied it to its roadmap methodology, creating a highly flexible and adjustable plan that could be adapted to unforeseen challenges.

In developing the roadmap, they sought to consolidate their vendors and focus on building strategic partnerships with a few trusted companies—including Wolters Kluwer. The roadmap included Wolters Kluwer’s Passport® system for more efficient and effective outside counsel management, legal bill analysis, and more.

Measuring success and delivering results

Mike and Dana shared some of the notable results Equitable has enjoyed since implementing its modernization strategy, including:

  • Reduced time of invoice review by 25% for invoices more than $5,000
  • Reduced time of invoice review by 100% for invoices less than $5,000
  • Reduced outside counsel expenses by 8% year to date

All told, the efforts of the legal operations team resulted in a reduction of more than 8,000 person-hours across the organization—a measurable and positive impact.

If you’d like to learn more about how Mike, Dana, and their team created a legal operations modernization plan and technology roadmap, be sure to watch the on-demand session here. If you haven’t done so already, please register. Once you have registered, your email address is both your login and your password. Recorded sessions are available to watch in the Theater.

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