Tales of LegalTech Adoption: Connie Brenton, NetApp

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In a series of monthly interviews, LawGeex speaks to law departments adopting legal technology to enhance productivity. Here, we speak to Connie Brenton,  Director of Legal Operations, NetApp, and President of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium

How is your in-house legal team organized? 

The NetApp Legal department consists of 50 full-time employees (FTEs), led by the General Counsel, Matthew Fawcett. We are also the legal department of the future — we have an additional 16 FTEs from our law company and partner, Elevate Services.

Fortune500 NetApp’s Legal Team named 2017 Legal Department of the Year by The Recorder

What are the key imperatives for your legal team and legal ops team?

First, providing value to the business in a rapidly changing business environment. Second, busting silos and building bridges within the enterprise and inside the legal department.Third, running legal like a business, efficiently.

What problems and pain points were you trying to solve with tech adoption?

NetApp underwent a major transformation with a new CEO (George Kurian arriving in 2015). The Legal team was already ahead of the game having achieved major efficiencies through the use of technology to ensure simplicity and efficiency.  But we needed to do more—take it to a whole new level.

Our goals included better governing our processes, right-sourcing the legal work in the department, and enabling the business to close deals faster and more efficiently. To this end, for instance, one of our messages was, and continues to be, that everyone, including the legal team, are “in sales”. In addition, where appropriate, we seek to empower our business partners, through self-service technologies and processes.

One of our messages was and continues to be that everyone, including the legal team, are “in sales”

What legal technologies do you use?

We started with three technologies seven years ago, and now leverage 17. These include iSight (case management); Mitratech/ TeamConnect (eBilling); Adobe Sign (eSignature); ThinkSmart (workflow) LexMachina (IP Litigation); and Apttus (Contract Management).

What is the process for making decisions on a new software or technology?

NetApp has a formal, cross-functional, collaborative process at the enterprise level, to ensure consistency across the business and to ensure no “shadow” IT develops.

What results have you seen?

To take one example, we have achieved $2M annual savings using eSignature technology (Adobe Sign). In fact, some of our most impactful technology adoptions were the easiest to implement, for example, eSignature, and our workflow automation technology (TAP).

We capture metrics for each deployed technology. We determined what we could stop doing because of metric. For instance, we had many versions of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). We eliminated most of them and focused on three.

Other goals we have met have included a 10% increase Year over year in electronic signature users; 10% decrease in sales contract turnaround times; and 10% of our people in meaningful roles on cross-functional priorities.

Goals met include a 10% increase Year over year in electronic signature users; and 10% of our people in meaningful roles on cross-functional priorities.

What advice would you give to other legal counsel looking at new tech?

There are a number of pieces of advice. First, ask your Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) colleagues where to start and what works – learn from their mistakes. Second, START (don’t let fear drive decisions). Third, choose a simple technology to implement with a corresponding high Return on Investment.

Connie Brenton (center) with the leadership of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium

Is it a better or worse time to be working in a legal department?

It is such an exciting time to be working in a legal department. Every day is different and exciting. There are endless opportunities and different ways of working than there were just a couple of years ago.

The 2018 Annual Corporate Legal Operations Institute takes place in Las Vegas 22-25 April. Register here.

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Pre-order the highly anticipated (bigger and better) In-House Counsel’s LegalTech Buyer’s Guide 2018 — coming in May.

Learn about the top legal software and key trends, from leading in-house counsel and Legal Operations experts at top companies including NetApp, McDonald’s, Google, Microsoft, Pearson, Marketo, AIG, TabTale, Travelocity, Vodafone, NetApp, Del Monte, Axalta Coating Systems, L’Oréal, Tongal Novartis and many more.  Pre-order your copy here.

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