Promoting Legal's Mission Through Platform Technology

Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 01:00

The Editor interviews Scott Giordano , Corporate Technology Counsel at Mitratech.

Mr. Giordano is an attorney who is both a Certified Information Security Systems Professional (CISSP) and Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) with more than 14 years of legal, technology and risk management consulting experience. As Mitratech's Corporate Technology Counsel, he is a subject-matter expert on the interaction of law, technology and business requirements for the company. Previous to Mitratech, he maintained his own law practice and has also held positions as a Senior Manager at Fios Consulting and as a risk management consultant for LexisNexis. Mr. Giordano is a member of the State Bar of California and the DC Bar.

Editor: Using technology to optimize the legal department seems like a big challenge - why do it?

Giordano: It's easy to look at a modern legal department and say, "Hey, they're doing knowledge work, they should be able to get by with standard office technology - PCs and a network connection." And it's true, they might be able to get by, except that Legal's role has changed. They're no longer just another supporting department that reacts to day-to-day legal requirements. They cannot function in a silo. Instead, they need to be integrated into the entire enterprise and proactively address threats to the corporation - those from litigation, conflicts with value chain members, and governmental regulation. That applies equally to operations outside the United States, where many companies are finding their strongest growth potential. So, the Legal team and their processes have to be supported by the right technology if the department is to be optimized for this updated role. An optimized state offers a concise view of every matter, deep visibility into the value received for your spend, and the ability to leverage accumulated knowledge across the organization. Said another way, an optimized Legal department multiplies its power and effectiveness rather than merely increasing it.

Editor: Until now, no one has really tackled the task of depicting the various components of an enterprise legal management platform. What are some of the key goals in automating the full spectrum of corporate legal operations and how does a platform fit in?

Giordano: A high-performing, optimized department will always deliver value. Always. And that's the ultimate goal - continually providing low-cost, high-quality legal services to your client. So the real question is., "What does it take to optimize your legal department in order to achieve that goal?"

That's where platform technology comes in. It provides the right combination of collaboration, success measurement, trending and analysis to streamline operations and maximize your resources. Using a common system increases effectiveness while reducing costs. Additionally, information consistency makes it possible to examine and understand trends to improve services year over year. And better insight ensures that you allocate capital to the right risks or opportunities. Add accountability to the mix, and you have an optimized department that enforces responsible, ethical, standardized operating processes. The key really is to achieve the right balance of open collaboration and accountability for all participants. Collaboration grows your resources while accountability holds them individually responsible. Leveraging the Collaborative Accountability features built into the platform, TeamConnect Enterprise clients break through operational silos and align with corporate objectives to positively impact business growth. Executives gain broad visibility into resource allocation, performance, costs, and risks and can clearly demonstrate departmental value to the organization.

Editor:From efficiency gains to collaboration and reporting, there are definitely important benefits in implementing technology within the legal department. But why should corporations specifically take on a platform strategy?

Giordano: The short answer? Because racking up the points doesn't always make you a winner.

You see, the traditional approach to enterprise automation has been to isolate each problem, look at its individual requirements, and implement a system that meets those specific needs. Point solutions - those that address a specific problem or narrow requirement - might seem sensible on the surface, but they present numerous liabilities. At a certain point, accumulating a variety of point solutions for different problems is going to require integrations that are ultimately going to complicate maintenance and make your infrastructure both brittle and expensive in the long run. Not to mention that a global view of operations is near impossible if you're dealing with cobbled-together solutions. Your records are not only more likely to be polluted by duplicate entries and errors, but the lack of standardization in information capture makes reporting difficult at best. On top of it all, implementing a variety of systems means your end-users are going to require comprehensive training for each - which not only takes them away from core activities but also raises the likelihood of user mistakes.

While point solutions provide narrow functionality to address a specific problem only, the TeamConnect Enterprise platform supports all high-liability functions within the legal department. That allows you to lower operating and maintenance expenses and benefit from the ability to add new features without the time, cost and complexity of programming or integration. In this way, you can address multiple needs with the same software investment and eliminate the risk of point solutions.

The TeamConnect platform provides the critical feature set common across all enterprise applications to automate over 80 percent of your core requirements. In addition, it has robust and comprehensive modules to address matter management, e-billing, legal hold, and compliance-specific processes. All TeamConnect modules leverage and inherit the platform's core features; they share information and collaborate seamlessly. And the platform's complete toolkit fully equips you to develop new and agile responses to virtually any new requirement beyond its modules. Now, the risks of point solutions vanish, replaced by a fully-loaded, flexible and extensible platform that drives down your total cost of ownership (TCO) and supports business agility.

Editor:What advice do you have for a legal department who is considering a platform strategy? What are some key considerations and how to choose one?

Giordano: Business growth requires taking risks but implementing a platform should not. On top of features and functionality, key criteria in the selection process include platform maturity and ease of implementation. I am very proud to say that Mitratech is the only technology provider for the complete spectrum of legal, claims litigation management, and GRC automation requirements that originated with a go-to-market strategy based on a platform. Recognizing the limitations and high cost of ownership for point solutions, we built a full range of Legal and GRC products on TeamConnect Enterprise so our customers benefit from an inherently integrated suite of solutions that can easily change over time and in response to changing business drivers.

Our platform has proven its ability to satisfy the sophisticated requirements of Fortune 500 clients. It boasts comprehensive platform features, robust modular applications, over 500 customer-developed solutions built on top of the platform in addition to an established ISV program and a best-practices implementation methodology. We are the top ranking provider on the Platform Maturity Model. We are committed to making continual investments in TeamConnect Enterprise, enabling your users to fully control their technology with minimal reliance on IT, vendors, or other third parties. In fact, the last five years alone, 75 percent of our development effort has gone to entirely new innovations while other vendors, in a more embryonic stage, are addressing bug fixes and handling their first customer implementations.

It is highly critical to select a platform solution whose level of maturity meets your expectations and objectives. On the left side of the scale, embryonic platforms represent extreme risk. They have not yet undergone full testing and provide little benefit relative to that level of risk. As a platform undergoes the various levels of maturity, its users may uncover and report issues relating to functionality, scalability, and performance. The vendor can then leverage customer input to move the platform along the maturity scale. Once a platform reached an optimized state, it is able to provide customers transformational benefits and clear ROI at minimal risk. The fact that we have already undergone that evolution means out customers directly benefit from the platform's features and functionality, its modules and toolkits, without having to experience technological growing pains.