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Contract Automation For In-House Functions

Contract Automation for In-House Functions

This article was co-authored with Alistair Maiden of Syke, and originally published in The Lawyer on 19/10/17.

View / Download article as PDF “Automation was Royal Mail’s chosen solution to cutting external legal spend. First on the list was streamlining its non-disclosure agreements.”

Like many companies, Royal Mail’s in-house team must deal with the competing demands of costs challenges and increased demand for legal advice from the business. How might legal technology drive efficiency? This case study examines Royal Mail’s project to automate as much legal workflow as possible and empower the businesspeople to do more for themselves.

The problem to be solved

Director of legal operations Sarah Barrett-Vane gives the wider context. “We recently increased our in-house legal team by 50 per cent, recruiting 15 lawyers – mostly junior – for the Sheffield office,” she says. “Bringing more work in-house, such as some of the volume work and helplines, will cut down on external legal spend as well as enable the legal team to spot issues early on and work with the business client to avoid these and develop better ways of working. An additional but complementary strand to Royal Mail’s approach to dealing with these increased demands is to use legal technology to drive efficiency. We implemented an e-billing solution in 2015 and the next phase of this step was to look at contract automation.”

Royal Mail’s in-house team identified a specific problem with its approach to drafting standard form legal documents, such as non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), property licences and procurement purchase agreements. Such was the business demand for these documents, Royal Mail was forced to outsource production to law firms but this was expensive. Furthermore, it was inefficient: law firms struggled to get proper instructions from the business and lacked the expertise and focus to steer finalised documents through Royal Mail ’s governance and signatures processes.

The first document selected for the pilot was, then, the NDA. Notes Barrett-Vane, “If in doubt, start where you know you will achieve success – which company doesn’t have too many NDAs!”


The full article can be read in PDF format by clicking on the download button below.

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