Like many solo legal officers in-house, Peter Nguyen is inundated with requests to review agreements and oversee work coming from the team he works with at Toronto-based Resolver Inc., a fast-growing software-as-a-service company that provides integrated risk and security management tools.
As the person in charge of providing legal advice on a global basis for everything from mergers and acquisitions, litigation and commercial agreements, Nguyen’s email in-box was overflowing with requests from people, often wanting to know where their matter was on his list of things to do.
“It was the typical scenario of a GC in a small legal team where anything and everything that is a contract or a legal matter gets dumped on to me in a very ad-hoc way with no way of tracking what the requests are or where they are coming from other than tracking in email and writing it down on a list,” says Nguyen. “It is kind of a startup culture — run with it and get things done, but I had no way to track the work.”
As the business has grown over the past three years, the other challenge became managing requests from different time zones. “I would miss requests that came in during the middle of the night from the U.K. because by the time I got to my desk all the emails were already at the bottom of my screen or I would get pulled into the North American time zone. We also have business in New Zealand and folks on the West Coast, so requests are coming all the time and I didn’t have a good way of staying on top of things.”
His desire was to have a triage or in-take system where his business unit clients would have to first submit a request for legal work to be done and it would be tracked and visible to everyone involved. It would also be assessed as to the level of risk involved.
In his previous GC role, Nguyen had got to a point where he had created a Word document everyone had to fill in as they were submitting legal requests, but now he wanted to take it a few steps further.
“I often joke that the legal department is sometimes a bit of a black hole — it’s not how I want to work, but it inevitably ends up being that way. Demand for legal services is so high and there was no way to properly triage and determine what I should be working on,” he says.
Creating the Solution
Nguyen partnered with one of the company’s developers and created an application that requires a request be submitted to him with certain fields filled out first. It is then reviewed by legal operations co-ordinator Margaret McKee, who acts as the frontline of all matters before they are routed to Nguyen.
The tool was built on Resolver Core, a SaaS-based integrated risk management platform that services more than 1,000 customers around the world.
The form asks for simple information such as who is the contracting party? What is the proposed due date? What division is it for? What is the type of request? Supporting documents can be attached through the app and submitters are asked to complete a risk assessment based on established terms.
You can read the full article in the November/December issue of Canadian Lawyer InHouse.