Customer: Baker McKenzie Team: Alternative Legal Services
Baker McKenzie was instructed by a major firm client on a large project with a tight turnaround: drafting a suite of complex and varied employment contracts and cover letters for approximately 1000 employees in connection with a restructuring. The time and cost required to handle this task with traditional tools would have been prohibitive for the client. Using Office & Dragons for the first time, which took the team just 15 – 30 minutes to learn, the team at Baker McKenzie was able to complete the project in approximately 85% less time than the traditional alternative, resulting in huge financial savings and impressing the client.
Challenge: Baker McKenzie’s Alternative Legal Services (“ALS”) team supports the Firm’s offices across the globe in handling large, complex projects with the goal of delivering efficient and cost-effective solutions to clients, often on very short timelines.
Earlier this year, the Firm’s Employment & Compensation ("E&C") team was instructed on a particularly large project with a very tight turnaround time. A major Firm client needed new contracts drafted for approximately 1000 employees in connection with a restructuring. The contracts were complex and the contractual terms differed greatly depending on the employee. Each contract was accompanied by a cover letter whose contents also varied from employee to employee. The client also requested that the finalized files be named in a specific way. It was expected that when the client sent a spreadsheet containing the relevant employee details, the documents would be ready in a couple of days. The E&C team asked Andrew Neill, a Director in ALS, for his team’s support.
Andrew’s team prepared a cost estimate for the client based on a previous project, which utilized a similar workflow: a template was populated with information drawn from an Excel spreadsheet, before the document was split into separate files, named appropriately, saved as PDFs and redlines created against the template. This process would need to be followed twice in this instance; once for the contract, and again for the cover letter. The total cost, however, was prohibitive, given that the client would believe this to be a largely mechanical project. This wasn’t a surprise for Andrew: “We felt that the cost and time required to complete the task would be issues in this instance. Given that we have a long established relationship with the client, we had to find a way to meet their objectives.”
Finding a solution: Andrew turned to Phillippa Wilson from the Firm’s Practice Solutions Team to see if Baker McKenzie had any technology or software that could help with their situation. While the Firm has several document automation solutions, and indeed sometimes develops its own, Phillippa immediately thought of Office & Dragons for the project:
“I suggested Office & Dragons because of the speed with which it allows you to create documents and the fact that when you’re working, you always have your original document, modified document, and redline in front of you; this assists with review and quality control throughout the entire process. The ability to automatically split and create uniquely named documents according to the client’s convention, and automatically run redlines, was extremely useful in this instance. I considered traditional document automation tools, but setting up the document templates with Office & Dragons is much more natural. You create your own placeholders without having to learn any special template language. It’s a user-friendly application”!
By removing the steps the team would otherwise have to do manually, like splitting and renaming files and running redlines, they were able to reduce the cost estimate significantly and the client was happy to proceed.
The ALS team was quick to pick up O&D. “After about 15 minutes to half an hour, we were up to speed with how to use the system,” says Chris Hill, Team Lead for the project.
The ALS team showed the initial results to the E&C team and to the client, both of whom were impressed with the flexibility and complexity of clause variations that the team was able to handle with O&D. The client requested additional variations and conditions to be added to the contracts, resulting in better, more varied, and nuanced contracts than they previously thought possible with an automated process and short timeline. The team met the client’s deadline ahead of time.
Following a review of the finalized documents, the client discovered some errors in the original data sent to Baker McKenzie. The client sent a corrected spreadsheet and asked the team to re-draft all 2,000 documents as quickly as possible. “If we hadn't originally prepared the documents using Office & Dragons, we would have been in trouble from a timing perspective”, said Andrew.
Fortunately, with O&D, they didn’t need to start over. The Baker McKenzie team simply connected the O&D automation they already built to pull data from this new spreadsheet and re-ran the documents, completing the task quickly and efficiently.
Results: With Office & Dragons, the ALS team was able to substantially reduce the time and cost on this project, resulting in huge financial savings for the client, and meeting deadlines that otherwise would have been extremely challenging. They were also able to produce better, more varied, and nuanced contracts than they previously thought possible with an automated process.
“I would feel confident using Office & Dragons as the main tool for generating documents in future projects. It was reliable, it let us get the project done on time without saying ‘no’ to the client, and it was very easy for our team to learn,” says Chris.
Angela Cairns, Senior Manager in the Practice Solutions team, anticipates that O&D will become a core part of the ALS team’s toolkit, and is excited to introduce Office & Dragons to more practices within the firm. “Office & Dragons has been able to offer a solution that can support a wide range of projects across many practice areas, providing a solution for many problems. It’s not just the legal teams - our HR department has been using it too”!
“Office & Dragons has a very quantifiable impact that can be measured and communicated across the firm,” says Cem Ucan, Innovation Product Manager. “This is great from an adoption perspective. Sharing measurable impact is key to getting people to overcome the inertia to trying something new”.