Adopting Innovation In-House

  • December 13, 2019
  • Kevin Wentzel, CIC.C

Adopting Innovation In-House

As part of the agile legal team at Pivotal, I’ve seen firsthand the benefits technological innovations can bring to the practice of law in an in-house environment. Through proper stakeholder engagement, evaluation, and implementation, we’ve been able to leverage innovations to help expand our legal operations and increase our value proposition.

Here are just three areas where we have leveraged technology to provide more accessible, efficient legal services at a greater velocity than ever.

  1. Communication & Collaboration: As a globally dispersed legal team, video conferencing and collaboration tools allow us to compensate for the daily face-to-face interactions that would otherwise be lacking. Team meetings are more personable, productive and interactive, and by sharing screens and working on documents together, we’re able to collaborate in real time.

    This collaboration extends to other stakeholders in our organization as well. Before these virtual tools, cross-functional global projects, such as preparation for and operationalization of GDPR, would have been much mostly costly in terms of time and money, which is draining for all involved.

    At the same time, our team deploys tools to ensure that we’re properly measuring performance, managing workloads and giving each other visibility into our dockets. As Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” So being able to objectively assess our delivery metrics and outcomes means we also focus on continuous improvement.
  1. Training: Ongoing training and compliance efforts across our organization are facilitated by posting recorded training sessions to our intranet, updating FAQ pages in real time, and using email intake tools to triage and address issues efficiently. Improvements in Software-as-a-Service and other cloud-based software have also allowed internal clients to more easily access the legal resources they need, anytime, anywhere and on any device.

    We’ve moved away from a barrage of email requests to a central repository of information and training materials for our clients, which we continue to update and evolve alongside the business and regulatory environments that we operate within.
  1. Alternative legal service providers: While ALSPs have traditionally enabled in-house legal teams to offload high-volume routine work, this market is undergoing a transformation to offer even better value. They are positioning themselves as partners to in-house legal teams, offering specialized expertise, allowing us to focus on the areas we are uniquely positioned to handle.

    Some ALSPs have also shifted from competing to partnering with law firms. The result is that we now benefit from the cost-efficient ALSP services through the law firms we already engage.

The Way Forward

For any in-house legal team looking to begin adopting technological innovations, I recommend:

  • Identifying and prioritizing your in-house team’s most pressing issues;
  • Focusing on actionable and measurable process improvements;
  • Taking advantage of new software offerings via free demonstrations and non-production licenses first to properly evaluate them without exposing confidential or privileged information;
  • Failing fast—if something isn’t working, learn why, adjust and redeploy as necessary; and
  • Being prepared for the inevitable resistance to change. Be empathetic and understand process changes can be hard.

Technological innovations have fundamentally changed the practice of law in the 21st century. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution and the challenges of implementation will be different for each of us, we now have powerful tools that will help us more effectively meet our goals, better serve our clients and make more valuable contributions.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not his employer.

Kevin Wentzel, CIC.C, is Legal Counsel at Pivotal Software. He advises on a wide range of international technology and commercial transactions, including subscription licensing, open source–based software offerings, professional services related to agile software development, and other complex commercial agreements. Reach him at or connect with him on LinkedIn.