Even before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted her in-house Legal Department in the healthcare industry, MaLiz Denk saw a need to embrace legal matter management.
“As we were growing, we started to realize the traditional methods we were using to stay connected – listening, hearing someone talk about something, stopping by someone’s office – wasn’t very reliable in terms of really managing the work or understanding the types of issues and workload people were facing,” said Denk, Chief Risk Officer and Deputy General Counsel at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. “That really became very highlighted when we went home during the pandemic, because then you really did not have any organic way of getting a sense for each other’s work.”
This motivated the team to find a method for true connection – as Denk put it, “how can we work as a team, not just doing your work next to each other, but actually harnessing the power of a team, and being able to level-load when you need to.”
Denk was one of three panelists at Xakia’s September 2022 webinar, LegalTech in the Health Industry. Joining her was Scott Rosenberg, Managing Director and Corporate Counsel at Unbiased Consulting, LLC, and Megan Isaacson, Associate Director for Legal Operations at Syneos Health. The three discussed the new pressures facing in-house legal teams….and how modern matter management can help.
Identifying Pain Points
A move toward digital helped the Children’s Mercy in-house legal team maintain synergy as the team evolved, both in terms of headcount and remote locations, Denk said.
To support its growing in-house legal team, Children’s Mercy implemented a homegrown solution and plans to migrate to Xakia's matter management software. Having a hub for the Legal Department allowed the team members not only the means to better help one another, but spotlighted some issues that inspired process improvements.
“For example, we’ve had this question five times. What FAQs can we develop? What education can we provide? How can we help to stave off these questions in the future?” she said. “There were lots of benefits we started to see immediately.”
This scenario – capturing Intake data, completing the work, and analyzing it in a post-mortem review – illustrates the benefits of in-house Matter Lifecycle Management, a concept that Rosenberg took a leadership role in developing for the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium.
This framework, which is available in the Matter Lifecycle Management ebook, provides best practices for in-house matters through four stages:
With such a model, “there’s no improper work being performed, we’re better able to control risk, and that process is transparent so everyone knows what’s happening,” he said.
Rosenberg acknowledged that it’s hard to tackle all four stages at once, especially for Legal Departments who may be new to legal matter management altogether.
“The key here is to identify the specific points of pain within your own organization and then work from there,” he said.
A New Ally: Data
Using Xakia, Isaacson said the Syneos Health team now runs legal reports to ensure matters are being right-resourced – being assigned to the right person and the right skill set.
Moreover, the Legal Department has used Xakia's legal analytics reports to justify requests for additional budget and headcount.
“We’ve been able to say to the executive leadership team, yes, Legal is a non-revenue generating function, but here are the number of contracts that we’ve worked on to get X amount of revenue,” Isaacson said. “Here are all of the things we’ve touched in various business units. So those reports not only help drive our team, but they provide justification when it comes to budgeting and when it comes to requests for headcount."
“For the first time, we are able to say ‘We actually need more and here’s the data to support it.’”
This application of data points to a main point of Denk’s: “Data can be your friend.”
Denk said her Legal Department learned to embrace metrics – especially in their ability to support new process improvements.
“We have definitely seen an evolution over the last few years to really think about data as our friend. How can it support new strategies?” she said. “We had thought that was something the rest of the business paid attention to - but we started to realize that we are the business too, and we need to be thinking about how data and a digital transformation can really help us to do our work better and support the organization as well.”
Aligning the Legal Department with Organizational Strategy
The Syneos corporate vision is “shortening the distance from lab to life”: “We help our customers improve and accelerate the delivery of therapies that impact health worldwide.”
Thus, by looking at bottlenecks and delays in the company’s legal operations, the Legal Department was reflecting the corporate strategy, Isaacson said.
“One of our company-wide initiatives and strategic goals is around simplification,” she said. “We recognize that our people encounter a lot of roadblocks in their day-to-day work. How can we automate and digitize those processes? How can we partner with the businesses and various business units to achieve their goals?”
Similarly, Denk said that by working to become more efficient, the Children’s Mercy legal team empowered its medical staff in a highly stressful time.
“Particularly right now in healthcare, they want as much noise cleared out as possible,” she said. “They don’t want to guess at how to get help. They want it to be easy and simple and obvious.”
Watch the LegalTech in the Health Industry Webinar to learn more
Unlock ideas that could revitalize the way your in-house legal team operates by watching the LegalTech in the Health Industry Webinar. Regardless of the industry you're in, our webinar can be a source of value.