Legal Risk Management's Secret Weapon

Tuesday, May 1, 2007 - 00:00

CSC's GC Dashboard is the early warning system general counsels and their law departments need to detect nascent legal issues and deal with them before they mushroom into serious problems.

Corporations have come to rely on powerful business intelligence systems to mitigate risk and optimize results in their profit and revenue centers. These expensive systems sift and scrutinize all available data, seeking trends and spotting trouble. Sophisticated, customizable "scorecards" put the results in the hands of managers, who use the data reconnaissance for damage control and to enhance business strategies.

In the race to boost corporate performance with cutting edge technologies such as these, however, the legal department is still on the starting blocks. This is because most attorneys have been reluctant to give up the towering stacks of paper reports on their desks and use computerized information and spreadsheets. Also, as a cost center, the corporate legal department has not been an attractive candidate for the kind of investment that these systems represent.

But things are starting to change. Corporate executives have grown concerned about the potentially staggering costs resulting from unforeseen risk, while corporate attorneys now realize that it's impossible to effectively anticipate and manage the vast scope of legal matters using current tracking processes. They have begun to recognize the value of having a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to risk management of legal issues that relies on business intelligence technologies.

Until now, however, there has not been an effective tool available to manage legal risk. The software giants supplying business intelligence systems to the rest of a corporation's divisions have never fully grasped the inner workings of the legal department, and have been unsuccessful in creating cost-effective applications tailored to general counsels' needs. The solution would have to come from a company with comprehensive knowledge of the legal department, one familiar with how general counsels' work and the kind of tools they use.

That solution has come from CSC. With over a hundred years of experience servicing the legal community, CSC is uniquely qualified to design a tool that meets the needs of general counsels and their staffs. The result is GC Dashboard, a web-based application that provides instant access to critical information on a single, secure web page.

CSC GC Dashboard uses real-time information taken from CSC's operating systems to provide a consolidated view of litigation, transactions, compliance, governance and IP concerns, allowing corporate attorneys to spot and handle incipient problems before they spin out of control.

The CSC GC Dashboard is a smoke detector, which gives general counsels access to the information they need to spot trends and the first signs of risk at a single glance. The application eliminates the need to generate and pore through reports about the corporation's myriad activities, because that information is gathered and then distilled onto a single screen shot. A general counsel can look at the screen and immediately see the data they need to manage their law departments' activities. For example, they can see how many new service of process were generated in the last 30 days; the status of the company's intellectual properties; legislative news coming from the states. It's all right there on one page, in an intuitive graphical format.

In addition, the CSC GC Dashboard uses open standards technology to enable it to communicate and mesh with virtually all existing (and future) software and information systems, which means that information from existing documents, contacts, reports and other proprietary data sources or third party solutions can also be integrated into the single consolidated view.

The application also includes a tool that searches for word patterns to detect trends. For instance, if the tool is running and searching through the data, and detects for example, that the term "sexual harassment" has appeared 27 percent more in the past month than in any other month in the last year. The CSC GC Dashboard sends an alert to make the general counsel aware of the situation.

Such features not only save time and resources, but it also ensure that critical information is not overlooked. There are time issues, and accuracy issues, which can cost the company in unforeseen risk.

Tailored And Timely

The CSC GC Dashboard screen contains data, charts, alerts and trends in rich formats with detailed drill-downs. The information on the page is customized so that users have exactly the information they need in a format that they are comfortable with. Specifically, during implementation, CSC spends enough time with users to understand their needs, and the areas of focus that are important to them. In turn, we use that feedback to customize and create their dashboard look. For example, if your organization is a manufacturing company, you probably have serious litigation issues. As a result, CSC can design the screen around those issues, and break them down by jurisdiction, by product, or whatever category you are most interested in seeing.

CSC discovered that while every legal department buys software, the lawyers don't use them. This is due to the fact that attorneys require reports to be generated, and then they review those reports. Consequently, CSC has created the reports for corporate law departments. Simply requiring the attorney to just turn on the computer, and the information is delivered in a report format for the attorney to interpret and analyze.

Another invaluable feature of the GC Dashboard is that it refreshes the data automatically, so that users are always looking at the most current information available. This is critical if the tool is to be used as an early warning system. For instance, if a general counsel is examining a graph regarding how many discrimination claims he/she is receiving. Because the system is dynamic, the Dashboard automatically updates the number as new claims are filed. Again, this allows general counsels to act proactively, and deal with a situation like this before it gets out of hand.

Wade Bennett is a Vice President with Corporation Service Company, CSC . He is a frequent speaker on litigation technologies, SOX compliance, risk management as well as web-based collaboration between in-house and outside counsel.

Please email the author at wbennett@cscinfo.com with questions about this article.