The Alternative In House event: Insights from the In-House legal community

After what seems like a lifetime of webinars, we’re pleased to be getting back to in-person events with an action-packed few weeks at The Alternative In House event, ACC Europe and The Future Lawyer Week. We learned a lot from the various sessions and interactions.

Here are our highlights from The Alternative In House Technology Summit:

This event was a great chance to escape the city for a two-day event in Marlow and see old friends, spend time with partners and network with peers involved in the same field of deploying technology to In-House Legal teams.

Kindness and Care

Ruth Ward, Director of Knowledge, Knowledge and Innovation, at the Government Legal Department delivered opening remarks reflecting on the last two years of loss and the importance of leaning in with colleagues, kindness and taking care. Quote of the morning was encouraging colleagues to “not beat yourself up about missed deadlines when taken in the context of the last two years we have all had”.

Making Change Stick

Kerry Philip and Amy McConnell from Vodafone shared their experience of the challenges within their team, and how they created a change management plan. They championed the path to influencing the organisation’s mindset and creating the appetite for change, starting by creating their own ‘crisis moment’ and leading to a highly adapted and intelligent use of data to justify ongoing investment.

Demystifying the Value of the Legal Team

Mo Zain Ajaz, Global Legal Operations Director of Kantar, dealt with the hot topic of how to measure and demonstrate legal value. I particularly liked his example of creating a ‘visual management hub’ – an old school name when these things were physical spaces might have been a ‘War room’ (inappropriate nowadays) where plans can be laid out and progress visualised, – to create focus, ownership and momentum.

Self-Service Success

Victoria Mee from Aston University quashed the fear that self-service leads to a loss of control. Instead, it could supercharge the leadership role of in-house legal in the business, if implemented correctly. It’s about user-centricity and creating digital experiences, allowing the team to “spend more time with people than paper”.

The Psychology of Change

Following coffee was the fascinating Helena Boschi, famed psychologist on resisting change. Her advice for leadership such as being clear and specific in your guidance to others, directing peoples’ attention, setting expectations, sharing rewards, becoming hands-on, working asynchronously and focusing on human concerns as well as the enterprise, were all spot on, although the dogs eating icecream video stole the show…

Developing and Investing in a Data-Driven Culture

Panellists Amy McConnell from Vodafone and Javeed Qazi from Deutsche Bank, discussed the challenges teams face with deploying and sustaining technology, in particular working through the issue of supporting custom applications. Look out for our blog on this topic in the coming weeks!

Digitisation Trends

Finally, Nigel Wilson from awakenAI, took us into the future, and explored how far we have come with tech and places we might all be headed next such the metaverse – is this the solution to hybrid working, as all parties meet virtually regardless of their physical location? Accenture certainly think so!

M365 to Boost Collaboration and Productivity

The afternoon took on the speed dating roundtables. Of special interest was the Aviva team of Kate Graham and Josh Clarke, who are accelerating Group Legal and Company Secretary collaboration and productivity in M365. With Panoram’s expert services, they have deployed Intapp Documents for Corporate Legal to harness Outlook and Sharepoint for matter workflow automation and document collaboration. Enterprise technology for enterprise legal!

Driving the Net Zero Agenda

The panel discussion led by Kirin Kalsi of E.ON UK around lawyers being instrumental in driving Net Zero outcomes and broader ESG goals. Fascinating to explore techniques for applying these goals to commercial paperwork negotiation and supply chain management. The key takeaway was to “target those areas with the most impact” with the example of Avis removing their requirement worldwide for clean cars and therefore saving hugely on water usage.

The event certainly showed the community is growing, the lessons learned are real and the impetus to share and support each other is there. But we should not kid ourselves, this is the start of the journey and there are an order of magnitude more legal teams still at the starting blocks than the community of do-ers assembled under the watchful and ever amiable presence of Steve Parrott, Sarah Katherine Bagshaw and the Alternative Events team.