© Efi Chalikopoulou

Consumers take it for granted that, on launching a smartphone app, they will see clear metrics telling them, say, how many miles they have run or how much they are spending. So in-house lawyers are now borrowing from this approach of visualising data in graphics and maps to show the value of their work.

Last year, as geopolitical tensions rose, in-house lawyers at private equity firm Carlyle created a platform to visualise risk exposures in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. “It gave us the ability to have full transparency across the board,” says Heather Mitchell, head of the group’s Emea region, chief risk officer and global general counsel for investments. Gathering all the data in one place enabled the team to make nuanced decisions.

Lawyers at Japanese tech company Fujitsu decided to make data visualisation an everyday activity. Ben Shillito, head of digital services for the legal department, says: “We needed the right resource doing the right work, so we decided to get a sense of what’s happening.”

At its service desk, the lawyers gather 150,000 data points a month from requests from the business. They also use workflow dashboards to see where work is being allocated and to track how fast deals are done. But, as Shillito points out, garnering deep insights with commercial value requires many years of data: “You are in it for the long run.”

Most innovative in-house legal teams Europe
RankCompanyScore*
1Bayer**47
2Anheuser-Busch InBev46
3Fujitsu44
3Vodafone44
5Diageo43
6Laing O’Rourke42
7Colt Technology Services39
7European Investment Fund39
9Coca-Cola HBC38
9Iberdrola38
*Scores based on companies’ two highest-scoring submissions to the FT Innovative Lawyers Europe awards
**Winner of the FT Innovative Lawyers Europe award for most innovative in-house legal team

Case studies:
standout examples of innovative in-house legal teams’ work can be found here

Multinational brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev has been building its data infrastructure since acquiring SABMiller in 2016. Its new project Lighthouse is a dashboard that visualises risk across the business’s IT systems and digital assets, globally.

The business has more than 500,000 data points to work with, drawn from risk assessments performed by different teams — such as cloud security checks or automated security software reports. Global director of data privacy and digital risk Diogo Figueiredo explains: “We need a consistent risk view. We can’t have the cyber or data privacy team saying a product is great if IT compliance has a different opinion.” Combining data will lead to consistency.

The challenge was to design a matrix that could meaningfully analyse data according to the importance of the asset and the nature of the risk. The results of the automated analysis are presented on a colour coded Lighthouse dashboard that gives AB InBev a nuanced picture of risk across the whole company’s digital assets.

The success of these projects depends on building the proper information architecture and gathering the right skills. “All the benefits are realised in how that transformation empowers and augments people,” says Shillito at Fujitsu. As team leader, he has 40 people working on digital projects ranging from standardisation of contracts to data privacy. “We want a team that don’t just identify as lawyers,” he says. “Law is a toolkit — you are a flexible consultative resource to the business.”

The in-house team in this report that best demonstrates this quality is French video game maker Ubisoft. Its product designers and user interface (UX) experts work with lawyers to design legal services that are easier for the business to use.

The approach comes from innovation manager Jean-Philippe Doho’s dislike of a widespread tendency to jump at new tech solutions without proper research beforehand.

“Having a product designer and a UX designer was really efficient,” he emphasises. “We were asking: what is the existing process and how do we change that into a more user-centric experience?”

Just as for consumers, if tech is easy to operate and attractive in the workplace, usage becomes habitual and even enjoyable.

A user-friendly interface was crucial for AB InBev because it is the key to tech adoption in the legal team and across the business.

Executives at the brewing group need to understand how to operate its Lighthouse system easily, says Rodrigo Cunha, AB InBev’s global director of legal, ethics and compliance.

Ensuring that staff understand risks and are accountable across the business is essential, he adds. “We need to prepare and empower them to do this.”

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