Innovative Legal Leadership
Innovative Legal Leadership

Episode · 1 month ago

Andrew Brereton: A Tactical Look at Driving Transformation from Legal Ops


For most organizations, the legal function is long overdue for transformation—and legal ops is best placed to drive that transformation.

In this episode, we speak with Andrew Brereton, Vice President of Legal Operations at ServiceNow, about the what, the why, and the how of driving value and transformation for the legal organization from legal ops.

We discuss:

  • Why legal ops is vital to driving value and transformation
  • Early initiatives that build a foundation to deliver on transformation
  • The high-level process around transforming legal workflows
  • Best practices for gaining buy-in and managing change

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Hello everyone. Today's episode is with Andy Brerett and he's a dear friend of mine, currently the VPV legal ops at service now, has been there for about three years. Before that he legal ops at American Express. Lots of learnings on this call and he talks to us about the about driving value in transformation and how the legal op of a operations function can do that early initiatives that help build a real foundation to deliver on transformation and some best practices around in engaging the stakeholders around you and getting buying and managing chains. So as a fantastic episode. But what I'm really going to call out here is something that we didn't actually talk about on the on the podcast. But Andy is father and dad too, a Superhero, young William, and he's young son who has autism and what I love reading about I don't know if you've you follow Andy on Linkedin, but I suggest you do because he shares his story, his family story, about what it's like raising and autistic child and sharing the learnings across the community to garner really sympathy, and not just sympathy, just understanding about the challenges and the joys and and engaging with a community to ensure that there's compassion, particularly from employers, so that we all have a better understanding around those challenges. If you haven't followed Andy on Linkedin, I said yes, you do, because he's posts about his family, Young William, are absolutely heartwarming. Often bring a tear to my eye, have to say, but that's he's a wonderful, wonderful man, a very accomplished professional. To so coudos. To Andy, are you going to enjoy this session? I'm sorry I have gone on a little long, but it's important. I thought that I call that out. So, when the usual fashion, sit back hillacs and enjoyed the episode. Welcome to innovative legal leadership, the podcast where you'll hear from the world's most innovative general counsel and their leadership teams for their insights into the running of a fortune five hundred inhouse legal department, the challengers, the winds, the road blocks, the journey to date and, most importantly, what lies ahead. Let's get into the show. Andrew Brereton, or to his friends, Andy, welcome to the show. It's fantastic to have you on. Thanks, Jim. Very happy to be here and great to see you again. Yeah, no, good to say I've been too long. We did have our last live catch up with probably a couple of years ago, but we're not the only one saying that right now. So, Andy, you're currently the vice president legal operations at service now. You've been there for a few years. You're an amx before that. A stellar career and today we're going to talk about how legal operations drives value and transformation in the legal department. We're going to do a bit about the why, the what the how. Let's start with the why. Why do you think legal ops is so vital to do exactly that? To drive there, you enter drive transformation. Yeah, no, great, thanks, Jim. I think the why for me is legal as a profession is as a professional service offering, is one of the last kind of teams to really drive through a transformation. When you think of HR finance, of a professional service functions, has been vast transformation. Yeah, I just think the legal function... just so overdue for transformation and kind of doing things a bit differently. It's already well on the way, Jim. As you know, your companies, like the studio yourself a driving one that change to yeah, and Itherways said, it's funny. In the past it's been hard for general counsels in their team to be at the forefront and saying they're driving something with which is transformational. So that's why I'm so excited about this time, because I actually do think it is the legal functions time. Aim to be able to say, yes, this is what we're doing and this is how we're driving transformation that and it sounds like that's exactly where you're at. So yeah, absolutely. I just think legal operations professionals are so well placed to do that. Dedicated legal operations function. Dedicated legal operations professionals are the other ones. Are Best Place to identify where that value, that transformation, can happen and take place. Yeah, when I when you, when I think a legal operations I started my kind of legal operations creer aike. That went, like you said, to American Express where I just learned so much from so many great people. You know, even since then legal operations is evolved. It used to be about ebilling right, manage the budgets, management outside, as been yeah, is still part of the role for sure, but it's so much more than that. Now it's about identifying those business challenges, whereas legal needed whereas technology needed, and hopefully on the path now, I think, over the next two or three years, to driving really meaningful change. Yeah, and that's a great segue into into the what. Okay, so we've got the why. What is a one of the what are some of those early initiatives and goals that you actually set yourself to be able to deliver on the Vey you're on the transformation in the legal part. Yeah, the question, I think the I think the answer that question will change depending on what you know, industry that you're in. Yeah, so for me, working at service now, a technology company, we are we're looking at changing and we provide technology platform to many, many of the other biggest companies in the world to in turning that change happens at a bit of faster pace. Yeah, I love that. Yeah, you're obnology can be so we have the right. I think the approach that we've taken is understand the work that legal is being asked to do. And this, this to me, is where, you know, there's so many offerings out there in the marketplace. Folks here all the time. You should buy this piece of artificial intelligence, you should buy RPA. Yeah, like just take step back. Build a foundation first. If you're building a house, you build a foundation first, not the roof. If you're buying a piece of AI or Urpa, before understanding the foundation first, you're basically building the roof for the foundation and it will not be successful in my opinion. Yeah, so we the approach that we talked Jim, was understand the work that legal or being asked to do across a number of different practice areas. What's the volume, what's the cycle times, what's the value of the work? Great that you can establish, let's say that legal being asked to work on a thousand and the e s, what values that really bring you? Yeah, and so that's where we started. That then led us into a fairly significant transformation effort around our commercial legal team and how we manage that workflow and it just led to so much more across different practice theory. So you know, understand the volume on the standard foundation. That's the first that yeah, it's funny. We talked about, and I know you and I've spoken about before, thirty, sixty, ninety day plans. That is a little bit artificial, isn't it? Because it might take you, it might take you months to really understand what you need for the foundations and probably your experience going in a few years ago, you to...

...service now and really understanding what what the legal work was, how was undertaken before you could start wrapping your arms around I got what do you think the strategy is and what are the building blocks to achieve and got it. Is that right? Is it that before you can really come up with a plane, you really got to do that homework and understand what you foundation is? I think so. I think it's three thousand sixteen ninety eight plans are still very relevant, for sure. Yeah, I do think that the pace of change needs to be kind of boring, mind. So I give an example. Right, if you spend sixty days evaluating a business problem, you figure out how you can to fix it. Right, you establishing new process. Things might changed. Sixty days is a long time in a in a in a business which is driven by quarter quarter reporting. Yeah, so I think it will still worth while. I think is. Here's my mineral kind of approach to it. Jim Is Yep, UN down the process, the business problem. Don't be afraid to be inspired by how technology can inform and shame that process, something I learned very quickly. Service now is being we have a business challenge we need to solve. There's a lot of value if we can solve that problem. Technology can help solve that problem. And don't wait until you know absolutely everything about the profles for young men's Inter be inspired by the technology. Yeah, and so if you were, if we did to start talking a little bit about the how would you again, you've started now. Should we what a something that kind of the high level process that you you think you need to have in place or start to achieve the goals that you've set yourself for thirty, sixty, ninety days, and whether their goals around a particular business problem. More broadly, tell me a little bit about the process. Sure, I think when we talk about workflow for legal things there is sometimes a little bit of a hesitancy because legal requesting me very complex. But here's the bottom line. Right, and I'm still a qualified lawyer back in my homeland of the UK, even though I don't practice or anymore. Here's the bottom line. Most legal requests start with a request and end with someone fulfilling that request. Yep, so very simply right. If you can capture when the request comes in what it's for. Yeah, and then when the request is ended and what the outcome was. Yeah, it's not hard. Right now. Those are very basick thing. Yeah. And so our approach was we cannot operate on the old eight hundred and twenty rule. Right, is long the capturing the majority of the request which legal are being asked to perform on. There's always going to be corner cases, right, there's always going to be a big listigation or big regulatory advice that you want to capture for a work for at all. That's fine. But how approach was? Capture the request, capture the point of being fulfilled, the in between bit. If you're capturing that data, that data snow values gold is yeah. So that's the key thing and the reason we took that approach was then, broadly, we got most of the practice group ares into our transformation efforts very early, rather than just focusing on one area. That was where we started at these and I look, I love the twenty rule and it's funny as a as a seller of legal tick and often the audiences, of course legal, they're trained often to think about the exception and so, and you've probably heard this before, you often get the exception, which is the twenty not in the ad in that as a response to what you're proposing, and and sometimes that can be paralyzing, so to progress and chaine. So...

I love that. Look, we're not going to solve one hundred percent of that kind of problem, but boy, if we can get the fifty, sixty, seventy eighty percent, then the rest of it to that that that's firstly huge and secondly that the outlines usually end up taking care of themselves and there that and they shouldn't impede. I think are sometimes they're an excuse or a convenient way to when paid on real transformation. I don't know whether that resonates with you, but that's certainly some of likes. It definitely goes, I think, the way that and it's not even doesn't need even in relation to transformation, right, it's just be a you. Yeah. So let me give you example. Every year that I've been in the head of allegal operations roll, every single year I am asked them a mask. The ask is and they we need more resource. Yeah, and the wet I always usually gives. Okay, why do you need more resource? The answer I get is, well, the seems are really busy. More works coming in. We're not really growing headcount that much. We're really busy. The question I learned to ask is, okay, what are the teams busy working on? Yeah, and the answer is, I don't know that. I just really busy and it's yeah, it's it's not from the place of bad intent right now's just, Oh my godness, I'm so busy. And so if you capture fifty, sixty, seventy percent of the volume of the work which keeps busy day to day, and then you can start understand what work can be deflected to self service or, yeah, you know, reouted to a shared service function, then your lawyers and your team's legal professionals, paralegals have more time to focus on that. Twenty percent of the other really mean for work. Yeah, and look, that's that's huge in legal and it's huge in all professions. That busy work that I can't see the wood from the trees after but not actually having had the time or having the resources or the expertise to be able to drill down identify what are the activities, what do you need to be doing and what can we kind of ordermate or help with that. To me, that is the true transformation in work and that's where the value that's where the value is, because that it's not hard to start either. Right. Yeah, again, but to if you simply capture the IMPS and basic information at the point of request and a point of fulfilment. Yeah, that's not difficult to do. Yeah, and once you start to learn from information left that day to you realize, wow, you know, and we give you a real life experience here. We had some assumptions of what our legal teams working on a service. Now, yeah, the date we now have through rolling out our own, you know, our own technology solution has been wow, it's validated some of those assumptions and it's also revealed a lot of stuff as well. Yeah, and we hear all the time, right, data is the new oil. Yeah, and that's just absolutely true. Without catching that information, you don't really know what your work, what your teams are working on. Absolutely and that those kind of insights I talked. I stalk about data being the oil that has to be refined, and there's often the refining press so you can actually understand what the insights are. What did it teach you about what work was actually being done, what wasn't being done, what hypothesis were being validated and what what we're actually just wrong. But I love the way you've simplified it. Let's just understand what it looks like when it comes in the door, what is it, and then when it goes out, because ultimately you're right, it's a pretty pretty simple concept. Tell me about buying, buying from the stakeholders the team. Tell me about that, the challenges around there and what are the kind of things you might do just to get the right stakeholders on board. Absolutely.

So there the two kind of main things I like to focus on. Number One, get, if you can, executive team support. Yep. So we're really fortunate at service now we have our GC Ross Alma, our CIO, Chris Beatty, a chief Avenue Officer. I had of sales, had of had of your business functions. They're supportive of change. Yeah, and so we got that executive buying to support the idea of doing things differently in seeking transformation at number one. Number two, make it as simple as possible. Yeah, we rolled out one of our work close we rolled out was for our sales team. So every engagement that they need to make from our sales or commercial legal team ghost for our front door into legal, our work one we set things or we can figure some very simple questions at the answer when we share this out with the sales organization. You really careful to explain. Look, we're asking you say, five questions. Okay, five questions will help us get that request started. Here's the kids to keep point. Yeah, don't five questions that we're asking you to give us answers to their questions that we'd need answering anyway. Yet, whether it's email, telephone, Yep, whatever that you use. Typically that information happens and gets to legal across ten, twelve emails. Yeah, now we're getting rid of that. Just tells the information. This will enables to get started way faster, and that's that gets you off on the right foot. Right. So I think it's just the kind of clap two things executed by and secondly, just simplify everything. Is Much of mass making simple. And then's the key to great software. Make a disease if you're creating more work for somebody. Nobody wants to do that. But if it's you know what they talked about, reduce, it's got to be like a hundred percent better than what you're doing right now. It's going to be a significant improvement. And you're right, you're asking those questions the first place, but it might be in an email extraine a dozen times, a hundred times through the organization. So yeah, tell me about for you what a success look like, especially in the early part. What don't you early kind of miles stands or success as you want to be aiming for when you bringing on this kind of change in transformation? To a question, I think it depends on what business problem you're seeking to solve. The easy one is adoption, right, you want to see good adoption. Yeah, whether it's a business takeholder, it's a legal team who use in technology. For me, we at service. Now what we tried to do is have some pretty defined success measures for each area of transformation. Yeah, so we kind of figure out, look, what are we seeking to improve? I get give you example. We knew that. Well, we thought that there was some work that legal was doing that could be deflected to self serviced or to a shared service function. Yep. So well, success measure was, let's ball park, a percent. Who want to see a work to be deflected? Yep, and he thing, Jim, is you know, and we again we have such great support service now from the exactly team, if your success measures are not quite hitting those targets, that's fine. Yeah, it's telling you information that you need, Yep, to maybe revinal pivot a different direction. Yep. So often and when people report statues of transformation programs used in green, yellow or number or rat and everyone wants to be green or time. Yeah, sometimes it's bad to be humber or at because it tells you you need to look at something and Yep and change. Yeah, so all presumebly the benchmark you set, the target you set for yourself. It's just was too ambitious to start off with and you know, maybe the rate of acceleration on adoption was three or six months out rather...

...than two or three months out. Whatever it might be. You're absolutely right. The one thing we know is without that data, without setting those kind of benchmarks, you're not actually going to learn. It's that is the way you need to adjust. Yeah, any any mistakes? People should be looking out for. People avoid mistakes. What are the traps that you would especially kind of earlier on in the journey, that you would call out from? Yeah, perhaps from some battle scars, your own battle scars there, Andy, why of battle stars, scart picture. I think I from the very gap go focus on change management. Understand that if you send one email out, it won't really get Rad sent. You know, overcommunicate, is you very safe? Yeah, and send four or five communications out to make sure it runs about the change that's coming. Engage both early. Yeah, help understand, help them on the stand of value that changes going to bring. And Change Manager's so, so important. But I want to mention one more and this is, I think, the big one. So often when you go through transformation programs, rightly so, the focus is understand the process earth, okay, understand how you can refine that process and then look at technology to help, you know, drive up that new in refine process. Don't take too long looking at the process. Absolutely understand it, absolutely seek to get brought by any understanding, but be inspired by the technology, because the technology can vary often change the process and the process. Yeah, yeah, especially gym and legal. Yeah, you know, just because we were doing it one way for ten, fifteen years does not mean we should do it that way tomorrow. Yeah, yeah, and I think I've seen some of that to just a naturally come inclination sometimes to try and get a hundred percent of the way there, to whether it's to an understanding or trying to get to perfection, which is sometimes natural for the lawyers, and recognizing that in order to move fast and make group will progress. It's what I call progress over perfection. Sometimes actually it is a mantra. A hundred percent. We've got where and I understand that. I'm in a very fortunate position in that I work in a technology company and we are credible it partnership. But let me give you an example. General. So we launched our new power a CLM system that we that we use internally, in less than ninety five days. Wow, and we get that for a reason. We wanted to get it out into the into the kind of population. Yeah, I've integrations built with our native systems. This is why our leadership and partners would say to me, and they you learn the most out of a car where it's on the road, not in the garage. Yeah, get the technology deployed, learn from it as you go. I'm not suggesting for one moment that you can do that, you know, without a level of comfort. Yeah, but just go with it and seeing your learn much more in the real world than you're willing at test it. And it is. It is the model around really finding your product market. Fear until you can hypothesize all you like in your own head about how things are going to work, but until your face the ennery the customer and the customers got in their hands, that's when you start the learning and that's absolutely why you're, you know, the head of it, saying get it into the customer's hand. Let's see what we can learn. That's the driving that will take us. Tell us about the next for for you and service now any what are you thinking? I mean, you've obviously you've got a mature League ops department. You're delivering wings. What's what's the few each of for you? What's the next, to the...

...extent you can share with the audience the big rocks for you? Yeah, know for sure. I think there's there's so much more to do right we yeah, we're in the early stages of of our using our own platform. The initial intent with understand the foundation of work, understand what everyone's working on. You know, service now is so well placed for understanding what work can be automated and legal in compliance in whatever the area might be, and that's not to drive people out of making a living. It's to drive efficiency and have folks working on the right thing. Yep, Yep. And so next step is, you know, a little bit like pursuit. I guess right you. We've got the initial kind of roll out. We're understanding the date. That's in the system. Where can work be automated? You know, I can we drawn up the workflows so we have various work flows across different practice groups to where can we bring that information together to make a more complete offering? Yeah, and that's that's just part. That's just one part of what the opposteem is service now does. We have really broad remit for transformation. Even outside of legal we partner very closely with the different business functions as well, as you know, then the table stakes of legal ups, which is making sure we're operating to an effective you know, yeah, budget matter. It's dods of the company's money, things like that. Include us to you there and because I don't know that there were too many example where the learnings and the the winds from the legal ops teamer then starting to spread out into other functions. Usually it's the other way around, isn't? It's usually path other operation parts of the organization that that deliver their learnings into the legal ops. So could I see you that spreading your wi wings beyond beyond legal okay, two things. Will Finish off with a couple takeaways. One, what's the one big takeaway you want listeners on this episode to take away? And secondly, what's the first thing that listeners should start doing? And let's just assume there early on, perhaps earlier on in their legal obs journey than than service now. Yeah, I think my initialance is going to be, you know, if you are a GC or a chief legal APER, turn you don't have a legal ops function. You know what you thinking? Get a legal yeah, it's got. Yeah, I love that. Is Not a way that a legal function of any any significant size, whether it's a still or like, can operate as effectively as you can do with a legal ops function. Egops gone from or pay for itself? Yeah, over time, for sure. I think if you are in a legal ops function and you're kind of struggling to understand your where do you start? Just starts more right, but focus on the value change can bring you. That really, really important. Yeah, yeah, if you're going to, I like that. If you're going to, yes, focus small so you can actually digest and deliver. But but the Graad, the they use. No point diesting and delivering on something which does actually create that you saw. I think that's absolutely right. And on your first point, Andy, about you know, what are you thinking if you're a DC with a significant team you don't have a legal lots function? Absolutely right, and probably what I'd overlay on that, and I'm sure from our discussion you'd absolutely agree, and empowered legal lots function. Yeah, absolutely that. That's what's going to be important. Yeah, and don't be scared to have the role as a senior role. Right, the League loops from legal leader legal ups team can offer so, so much to legal function and also to business takeholders. Pretty much most legal functions as steem as a support function, the usually part the GNA kind of wild.

You're always fought as a cost center. You can change that narrative if you start to highlight and bring the value of change, and so I just think it's an absolute must. and honestly, you know, without change, without legal ops functions driving the change, teams are going to get left behind. Yeah, I big believer in that. Couldn't agree with more. Andy burden, it's been fantastic to speak to you. Some awesome insights. I'm sure the audience is going to love it. Thanks so much for joining me. Thanks to having me, Jim. Thank you, listeners, for tuning in to the show. For more, please subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you or someone you know would make a great guest on the show, please connect with me, Jim, the host of the show, via email jim at pursuit pgr Sui tcom. We'd love to hear from you.

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