Case study "From legal counsel to legal business partner"


The legal department of one of the biggest vehicle rental companies of Europe

The project

The client participated in our programme “From legal counsel to legal business partner” in order to maximise the added value of the legal department to its internal business partners, and to improve efficiency within the department itself.

The outcome

We co-created a dedicated legal intranet page aka 'legal knowledge portal' that serves as a new delivery tool for routine legal matters and for knowledge sharing. In addition, we designed a legal training programme tailored to the specific needs of the respective internal business partners.

The impact

The implementation of the legal knowledge portal, which functions as a self-service operation, significantly reduced the workload and email overload of the legal department, thereby also creating more opportunities to concentrate on more complex legal matters. As the legal knowledge portal is available 24/7, it also offers more flexibility to internal business partners. It is thus a win-win situation for the legal department and its internal business partners.

In addition, internal business partners now receive legal training on a regular basis so that they feel confident when using the knowledge portal for routine matters.

The process

Identifying needs and gaining insights

We started off by conducting an online survey and interviewing the most important stakeholders (including C-suite) to learn about their real needs.

In addition, we conducted a quick scan of the legal department to obtain a more objective picture of it in terms of:

  • content (e.g. the type of legal issues for which internal business partners contact the legal department)
  • processes (e.g. the way of working, automated workflows)
  • technology (e.g. the use of existing technology tools)
  • people (e.g. how the legal department is performing and is perceived throughout the company, how internal business partners can benefit from legal training).

The main goal of this research phase was to gather the information we needed to redesign the way in which the legal department could provide agile and responsive legal support, which is the core of its mission.

Key findings

The overall evaluation of the legal department was very good. However, the survey and quick scan did reveal two areas for improvement: technology and training. 70% of respondents stated that the current intranet did not provide them with the job-related legal advice they needed to perform their role. About 50% indicated that they would benefit from legal training on a regular basis.

These insights helped us to develop a plan for the way forward for the legal department and helped us to design and initiate solutions.

Designing solutions

Based on the findings of our research, we decided to focus on (1) the redesign of the current intranet to transform it into a real knowledge portal, and (2) the introduction of dedicated legal training programmes for internal business partners.

Main characteristics of the legal knowledge portal

One single legal window for internal business partners

Previously, legal knowledge was stored in different knowledge sources such as Windows folders and emails. The new legal knowledge portal integrates all knowledge sources and provides a centralised source so that internal business partners can easily find what they are looking for. The legal knowledge portal is now the primary source for internal business partners to find legal information and knowledge.

A self-service resource

The legal knowledge portal enables self-service operation for routine matters through the use of existing technology, standardisation of documents and processes, and training.

Knowledge sharing

No fewer than 163 documents have been selected as “most helpful” in a first stage. We identified 5 types of documents and categorised them as follows: templates, procedures, guidelines, legal advice and corporate documents. However, not all knowledge lies in documents. Therefore, legal training remains very important to provide the right context.

User centricity

The legal knowledge portal is designed to be a user-focused process. Our main users being internal business partners, the content is no longer organised around legal topics, but around the company’s products and services. We have avoided legal language and employed the user's vocabulary as much as possible. For the technical ones, the metadata that leads to the content is organised according to the same principle.

“One click” away

We applied the “one click” principle as much as possible to encourage user adoption. This means that the portal has been set up in such a way that most documents - and thus answers to the user’s question - are literally just “one click” away.

Legal training

Legal training is now part of the company’s employee training programme for specific roles. Senior management regularly benefits from customised training sessions.

The legal training that is now offered within the company primarily focuses on understanding the company’s standard contracts (the “what” and “why” of clauses), explaining the impact of new laws and regulations on products and services, and the role of the legal department within the company.

In the end it's not about technology, it's about people

It is clear that, although a legal knowledge portal has been implemented for the first time, this process is not about technology, but about people. We know that internal business partners are still going to contact the legal department for routine matters because “they are used to working this way”.

The legal department should guide its internal business partners to the portal each time they ask a question to which the answer can easily be found there.

In the end, it is about helping internal business partners to create new habits. We know that change management is not easy, therefore we are happy to act as a sounding board when things get difficult. Therefore, our programme “From legal counsel to legal business partner” includes a one-year follow-up.

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