Legal Technology: allnex counts on Knowliah
Utilising legal technology in corporate legal departments has been on an increasing trend for the last two decades. With the goal to increase departmental efficiency, legal departments of all shapes and sizes are considering improving or outright replacing certain parts and processes of their work. However, not all solutions are equal, nor are they suitable for all legal departments. This is why ample research is needed internally, before a decision should be made.
allnex, a global company in the chemical sector, has decided to implement a matter and document management solution provided by Knowliah, a modular platform that has been operating in the sector for over two decades. Andreas Mestel, General Counsel EMEA of allnex has been kind enough to sit down and share their experience with implementing a legal technology solution in such a global operation.
- Could you briefly describe, how your day-to-day processes used to be managed at your department (how did you manage documents, cases, e-mails).
For 20 years, allnex used an internally developed database. The folder-based system allowed people to file emails, drafts, signed agreements and other documents. As the system was designed with smaller volumes in mind, it could not handle managing a large number of requests. This became progressively burdensome and labour-intensive. Opening new matters and filing documents required assistance from administrative assistants and occasionally from the IT-department. Ultimately, the only optimal way for utilising the database was to manage requests and processes overnight.
- What prompted you to search for alternative solutions? What were the key elements you were looking for in your solution?
The outdated system worked inefficiently. Not only was uploading data cumbersome, but data retrieval and management was not user-friendly. This proved to be a considerable hindrance to ensuring an effectively running legal department. Basic tasks such as file retrieval or document archiving cannot require that much administrative work.
Our expectations for a modern database within the organisation were to have a system that would considerably increase user acceptance and reduce administrative assistance needed for everyday tasks. It must function seamlessly within the organisation. Furthermore, data security and fit with our IT-architecture were considered as essential as well.
- What convinced you to choose Knowliah out of all the options?
Knowliah’s solution satisfied our primary requirements. The deciding factor however was the efficiency of the software. We were particularly impressed by the possibility to automatically archive directly out of Outlook, which reduced administrative efforts to a minimum. Our decision was bolstered by the search capability in the solution, enabling our counsel to do full text searches in text files and even PDF documents. This already enabled us to limit the time spent on basic tasks significantly, making content management function effortlessly and usable in our day-to-day tasks within the legal department.
Other functions to note include the reporting tool, which allows us to run various reports in a flexible manner, enabling us to streamline them to our work processes easily. In addition, the modularity of Knowliah’s product line gives us the opportunity to expand considerably if necessary, further integrating contract drafting solutions, approval management, and e-signature.
- How was the transition process to integrate Knowliah’s platform to your workstream?
In general, it was a smooth process. The first step was to customise the interface and functionality to meet our needs. Then we would do test runs, followed by data mapping. Once we completed data mapping and a successful test migration, we migrated our database into the new system overnight.
- What has changed in your legal department? What do corporate lawyers think about their new workstream?
Our staff is very happy. The time and patience spent on document filing and management did a complete 180. Corporate lawyers feel in control over their files, which was not the case before. The other major point is that we feel comfortable using our database now. There is no need to figure out workarounds how to get the required information with the least amount of effort and time. Lawyers know that the database is up-to-date and instantly accessible globally.
- What have been some of the unexpected benefits that the new workstream has provided you?
When we had to customise Knowliah to meet our requirements, we also had to review our current processes. This inadvertently led to us assessing our work processes, where we also made considerable improvements.
- What type of legal departments would you recommend Knowliah’s platform to?
Our legal department has presence on four continents, which means that the software that we use has to facilitate truly global teams. Based on our own team and experience, we can certainly recommend implementing Knowliah’s solutions, regardless of the size or location of the team.
- What are the key processes today, where you see that legal technology is essential for an efficient legal department?
Definitely recurring tasks. So much legal work still requires recurring actions that do need some input, but in general could be automated. This would enable lawyers to invest less time in such activities and focus more on matters where their advice would be of higher added value.
Andreas Mestel is General Counsel EMEA at allnex, a leading producer of coating resins. Prior to joining allnex in 2007, he held various legal positions in Colipa (today Cosmetics Europe) in Brussels, the German Chemical Industry Association “VCI” in Frankfurt and the law firm Arnecke Siebold (today Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein) in Frankfurt. Andreas is in charge of managing legal matters within the EMEA-region across all legal areas and headed the project to enhance the digitalization of allnex’ legal department. Andreas graduated in Saarbrücken and Berlin and holds a postgraduation degree in European and International Law from the European Institute of the Saarland University. Andreas is admitted to the Frankfurt Bar and a member of the Belgian inhouse counsel institute IJB/IBJ.