I was recently interviewed by Cover Story and Legal Disruptors on how Clifford Chance Applied Solutions create solutions that respond to our customers evolving needs. If you can read Czech then the live article is linked, otherwise the English translation is below.

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The global legal and regulatory environment has been constantly evolving in recent years. That is one of the reasons why in 2018 Clifford Chance Applied Solutions was as a wholly owned subsidiary of global law firm, Clifford Chance. It aims to respond to clients changing business requirements by combining legal and product expertise through new technology solutions for in-house lawyers and business teams Jennifer Paybody, who is in charge of sales and marketing activities at Clifford Chance Applied Solutions, explains how one of the most powerful legal innovation units in the world works.

 Dear Jennifer, what does Clifford Chance Applied Solutions focus on?

Our purpose is to empower our customers to manage legal risk with clarity and confidence, in a common sense way. We focus on creating digital legal solutions that fulfill this purpose.

 So in a nutshell, you help them innovate…

Yes. We believe that too often legal teams have been left behind when it comes to tech solutions and/or been over-sold what a tech solution can do. We understand that technology cannot replace most of what a lawyer does. Any tech solution has to support legal advice and processes and work for the particular team that’s intended to use them.

How do you achieve such a purpose?

We bring together three unique elements. Firstly, it is access to legal expertise and business support from the entire Clifford Chance network. Secondly, we leverage our Product Management expertise. That means identifying good ideas and then building something that customers actually need and want .

And the third area?

That is pre and post sales expertise. We provide business case support so our customers can secure budget for purchase. Subsequently, we help with implementation and on-boarding so products are embraced by all users.

So what specific solutions have you developed?

Our current solutions fit broadly into two product categories. The first category is document driven processes and the second is multi-jurisdictional actionable legal information. In the first category there are two products; CC Dr@ft and a workflow solution called SMCR Manager. The latter category consists of Cross-Border Publisher: Data Protection, Cross-Border Publisher: Banking Confidentiality and Continuing Obligations: Debt Securities. These products enable easy comparison of rules and regulations across jurisdictions. We are also about to launch a new product in this category; Cross-Border Publisher: Employment Restructuring.

Key benefits of your solutions are high quality legal content, ease of operation and reliability and less legal spend. Do you have a concrete example of your solution that meets all benefits above?

These benefits can be found in all of our products. In terms of high quality legal content we work closely with with our parent law firm Clifford Chance. We also have a rigorous development process which ensures any products which get launched are easy to operate, and provide return on investment, i.e. save our customers money. By way of example, I will mention the document automation tool, CC Dr@ft. Our customers often report time savings of between 60 and 90 percent. And when it comes to reliability, all products have to pass rigorous security testing, which is a high priority for us.

Did the coronavirus pandemic shift your focus in creating new products?

We constantly monitor how the ever changing macro-environment impacts the needs of in-house lawyers and business teams. Coronavirus has resulted in most of the markets we target working from home so they are embracing new digital ways of working. This has opened up more conversations on how legal technology can further aid processes and reduce risks which is good news for selling our current products.

In terms of new products, one of the obvious areas a number of businesses are grappling at the moment is employment, in particular the various furlough type schemes available in different countries. Our upcoming product will help companies navigate and compare the various options across jurisdictions. The content on this product has been created by the Clifford Chance Employment team in response to increasing enquiries from Clifford Chance clients.

A key topic for lawyers worldwide is digitalization. What are the main obstacles in its wide use?

Any change in behaviour takes time. Over the last few years we have seen an increased adoption across the industry of digital solutions, which naturally increased recently due to remote working. Most in-house teams are now relying on new digital ways of communicating and have therefore started to think about other ways they can digitise. But there are still obstacles such as limited budgets, lack of time to consider a suitable solution and the traditional reluctance of people to accept change or start using a new product.

Lack of time?

More precisely resources which impacts in two ways. Often potential buyers are too busy to determine what problems they should prioritise and are then overwhelmed with potential solutions. It’s hard to find the time to assess and choose. The second level occurs after the final selection of a new product, when depending on the selected technology, you may need to allocate internal resources for its successful configuration and implementation.

And if you go through all this, is there still a risk that people will not use technology?

Yes. This can be because the product is tricky to use, because people don’t like to change their habits or because they are scared that using the product undermines their role. If you want people to embrace and use a new piece of technology it has to be easy to use and it has to provide an obvious benefit. Being careful with communications and on-boarding is key here.

You have already mentioned that you work closely with your parent company Clifford Chance. How does this collaboration look like in everyday life?

 We work together in many different ways. In relation to creating our products, Clifford Chance are a great source of ideas as they know their clients and the markets they operate in so well. They also provide content for our products which means they are embedded into our product development