Do you know how employees across the business get a quick response, a high quality of service, without the frustration of sending back-and-forth emails with the legal department? No, this isn’t a riddle. The legal team at ING Germany has actually made this their reality.
The legal industry has a bad reputation for not being willing to innovate, but there are some notable exceptions emerging, including at ING Germany, where the Legal Operations Team has delighted internal clients by building self-service applications and a Legal Portal using BRYTER.
We spoke with Laura Oliva Garcia, Legal Operations Expert at ING about how they think about their processes, using technology to make everyone happier, and how legal transformation can be a truly win-win situation.
The goal: Optimization of recurring requests
Laura, a lawyer by profession and in her role as Legal Ops Expert, is constantly seeking out opportunities within the legal department to optimize processes, improve how lawyers work, and optimize legal service delivery for the whole business. Laura explains one use case where the team leveraged legal automation.
“The lawyers serving the retail area of the bank get asked a lot of the same questions over and over again. Having lawyers continuously answer these same repetitive questions is not the best use of time. So, when it came to looking at how we could optimize processes, we immediately identified this as an opportunity to improve the way we work.”
“The challenge was this: The Marketing Team in the retail area of the bank has frequent questions relating to what they can or cannot include in marketing financial products to retail customers. Furthermore, they often seek a confirmation from the legal team to use a specific marketing piece. And while the questions are typically very similar, answering them is not entirely straightforward. It requires a deep understanding of our own internal policy documents, combined with the legal and regulatory frameworks. So, while the frequency of the requests lends itself to automation, the complexity of the request makes automation more challenging. For us to be able to do this, we needed a complex and powerful rule-based decision engine built for the legal market. This is where BRYTER came in,” explains Laura.
The tension between repetition and complexity is the key challenge in automating legal work. Paradoxically, each case is very similar, but at the same time, unique at a microscopic level, and those seemingly small details can make a massive difference in the legal advice given. Of course, it’s essential that as legal work is automated and scaled, the quality and accuracy of advice is maintained as if each request were handled completely manually. BRYTER was specifically designed to address this challenge.
A win-win solution
“Using BRYTER, we created a Legal Portal that saves the legal team time and helps us deliver a quicker service to our internal clients. Now, instead of back-and-forth emails between Marketing and Legal, the marketing team simply needs to access the created Workflow tool and they get the answer they need in minutes. We used BRYTER to take our internal policy and the relevant law, and make it digital, interactive and easy to understand. In most of the cases, the tool can determine whether the marketing piece is correct and can be used without further approval from legal or if it needs to be corrected. The Legal Portal really is a win-win: it’s time savings for the legal team, and it’s a better experience for our internal clients,” explains Laura.
It’s not just the time savings that benefits Laura and the legal team, it’s also access to data, and visibility into how efficiently the legal team is servicing requests. “Using BRYTER, we are able to make data-driven decisions. We can track data and usage across our applications, so we can learn and iterate on our tool to continuously make it better.”
Building with BRYTER
Ironically, while the goal of many technology projects is time savings, a small investment of time is necessary at the beginning in order to generate a higher profit in the future. “For us, just developing and building the tool took two whole weeks where me and a lawyer from the Legal Retail team focused on this alone. Actually, building the tool is very easy and fun but it was fundamental that all stakeholders were on board, that everyone understood the goal and most crucial of all, that we and all relevant departments felt comfortable with the workflow. That was it: two weeks later, we had our digital solution. We then took an additional time to test it, get feedback, and iterate before rolling it out”, explains Laura.
An evolving Legal Portal
This is not the only tool the Legal department at ING uses. For almost 2 years, the Legal IT & Procurement team has benefited from BRYTER by creating a single communication line with Legal. “Prior to the implementation of the tool, requests for the legal department were sent randomly to the legal team’s general email regardless of the subject matter or the specialization of the lawyer. Many times, the requests were incomplete or without the relevant information. It always took time to organize everything so that the specific request would reach the lawyer specialized in the specific matter. Now, the internal customer contacts the Legal IT & Procurement Team through the BRYTER “Intake Sheet“ Tool created for this purpose. BRYTER serves as a filter as it only lets you go to the final step of the process (contacting the legal team) when all the necessary documents have been provided. This filter helps the lawyer to receive all the information at once without having to keep asking questions and wasting time”, she explains.
Laura clarifies further, “The Legal Tools in BRYTER are brilliant because they save time for both the legal team and our internal customers. When I look at our pipeline, I can see how the benefits of automation extend beyond time savings. Structure, efficiency, and quality are key adjectives to describe the results”.
The Legal Tools in BRYTER are brilliant because they save time for both the legal team and our internal customers.Laura Oliva Garcia, Legal Operations Expert at ING
The key for Laura is putting quality and user experience at the heart of what legal operations does. “Automation is not the end goal. It’s a way to help ensure that people get access to the information they need quickly, in a user-friendly way. Ensuring quality is paramount. For us, we have kept lawyers in the loop – and for our self-service applications, we still always give our internal clients the option to speak to a lawyer directly. This additional step is even more important when you look to change management,” she explains.