Innovation without collaboration will not move the needle in driving change, and tech-savvy law firms realize the value in bringing different stakeholders to the table. Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG), the largest, full-service Canadian law firm, is one of these forward-thinking organizations.
“At BLG, we are trailblazers in this innovation journey,” said Theresa Leitch, one of the knowledge and innovation lawyers at BLG.
Embedding Innovation Into the Firm’s Structure
In recent years, BLG’s knowledge and innovation department changed to align with its innovative strategy.
“The firm structurally built out this function to drive innovation,” said Eva Sommer, a knowledge and innovation lawyer at the firm. “Our department is growing very quickly. Our goal is to drive innovation within the firm and with our clients.”
Lisa Chamandy, the firm’s chief knowledge and innovation officer, came on board in 2017. Lisa and her team proactively work with clients to understand their challenges. Then, they strategize on solutions to combat any obstacles.
“In today’s competitive market, clients don’t want innovation. They demand it,” Lisa said. “And they want to be involved.”
Large corporations are also adding questions in requests for proposal (RFPs). In RFPs, law firms may often answer questions about innovation, such as: How are you going to innovate? What are you doing as a firm to be more efficient?
To stay competitive, BLG is making innovation a key part of the firm’s mission. And, they are bringing clients to the table.
A United Front to Disrupt the Status Quo
BLG launched its client-focused approach to innovation Beyond—in October 2018. The initiative has been key to getting ahead of client challenges and finding solutions.
“Together, we look for ways to move boundaries and disrupt the status quo,” Lisa noted.
The firm works with clients to understand the obstacles impeding their success. Sometimes this could be a process issue, or even a need to upgrade to modern technology tools. To get to the heart of the matter, the firm developed a space for innovative thinking, called The Zone, supported by a cadre of facilitators trained in design thinking.
“The Zone gives us the chance to talk things through in a way you don’t always get to do in a boardroom meeting,” Theresa said. “There is free-flowing conversation and it is about being present.”
When Discovery Meets Innovation
For Kelly Friedman, BLG’s national counsel of discovery services, innovation was always top of mind. She and her team aimed to make the e-discovery process more streamlined for their clients. Kelly had the opportunity to team up with Eva, Theresa, and others on the firm’s knowledge and innovation team at a partners’ meeting in Toronto. Kelly was demoing Relativity and Eva and Theresa had a booth showcasing different technologies related to their practice areas.
“Our COO, Rob Morris, saw all of us demoing the different technology,” Kelly said. “He suggested that we start working together.”
The timing was ideal, as Kelly had been implementing RelativityOne, a SaaS platform. With the platform, the firm wanted to go beyond pure discovery services. In turn, this would benefit other areas of the firm.
“This was exciting for me because I’m a bit siloed running the discovery side of the business,” Kelly said. “There was no question that what I was doing was innovative. It just happened to be related to litigation. It was time to bring the benefits of RelativityOne outside of the litigation context."
Going Further with the Right Technology
BLG moved to RelativityOne to accelerate the discovery process. The firm migrated almost 600 workspaces within a three-month period into RelativityOne. The team migrated upwards of 27 TB of data into the platform in that timeframe and is now hosting upwards of 45 TB.
“It is astounding how much we accomplished in a short time,” Kelly noted. “The Relativity team provided the direction, education, and support we needed to stay on track.”
The partnership between BLG and Relativity is instrumental to the firm’s innovation strategy.
“RelativityOne offers an unlimited possibility to create apps to solve client problems,” Eva said. “These may be problems that we don’t even know exist yet. But we want to start exploring them.”
“RelativityOne was a big win for us. We can do so much more than just discovery and we are at the very beginning of our journey. We are excited to see what's next,” Kelly added.