About NRF Transform
Driving change in the delivery of legal services
Advances in law firm organization and legal sector technologies mean law firms can now deliver services to clients in more effective and efficient ways.
We are achieving this through NRF Transform, our global change and innovation program. NRF Transform aims to change how we work internally and with our clients, driving effectiveness in our deployment of people, processes and technology and maximizing the value of the service we provide.
The NRF Transform client benefits rely on innovative use of people, process and technology. We achieve this through a toolkit of options that augment or enhance our traditional service model in one of these three areas. Our Hubs act as innovation centers in all three of these areas.
We are expanding the range of expertise we hold within the firm, and ways we access that expertise. Our new delivery models then help us to put the right people on the right tasks, for the best client outcome.
We are re-evaluating how we complete legal work, and breaking each legal project and process into its constituent parts to find efficiencies or ways to deliver a better client outcome.
We are investing in software and expertise to ensure we are at the forefront of legal technology, giving our lawyers and delivery teams the tools to provide the best results for clients.
People and process
Exchange is our internal resourcing system, which allows our lawyers, wherever they are based in the world, to access support and spare capacity in other offices. We also use Exchange to pinpoint where we may have lower cost capacity to support lead lawyers working on cost sensitive matters. Supported by proprietary technology, the program allows us to rapidly identify and deploy the appropriate staff for any given matter. It underpins the NRF Transform Client Benefits which call for an intelligent deployment of our conventional legal teams. By allowing us to manage localized capacity excesses and shortages, it also enables a leaner business model, generally providing a more cost efficient service for clients.
Flexible fee earners
Our Flexible Fee Earners are professionals who work on-demand, and often remotely, to augment our conventional teams. They provide additional agility to the staffing model enabled by the Exchange program, allowing us to allocate additional resource to match client demand. The program also allows us to retain specialist individuals, whose talents are required infrequently, but are crucial when needed. Our Flexible Fee Earners are typically individuals who trained with Norton Rose Fulbright or at other leading firms, and who are now seeking greater flexibility in their working arrangements.
In selected offices and teams, we have moved to a structured work allocation model, where professional resource managers support Partners in managing the distribution of work. This means that we can ensure that client matters are resourced as effectively as possible, and that our lawyers are utilized in a way that supports their long term development.
Together with Exchange, this supports the NRF Transform Client Benefits which call for an intelligent deployment of our conventional legal teams. It also allows us to map client relationships and account for these in all work deployments, ensuring the firm’s full institutional understanding of a client is brought to bear across matters, and strengthening this understanding over time.
Legal project management
Our lawyers are supported by our legal project management team. These professionals assist in planning, structuring and reporting on complex legal matters and large client portfolios. The legal project management team works directly with clients and matter teams to ensure that work is completed efficiently, on time, on budget, and to the right quality.
By automating document production, we are able to produce draft contracts or letters rapidly, with a high degree of quality control, and, if needed, in bulk. This can support faster turnaround times on conventional matters, or the efficient administration of matters requiring ongoing or large scale document production.
We use a number of tools that allow us to co-ordinate teams and activities in a more transparent and efficient way. This often underpins a process-based way of working, and enables the use of other technology, either directly or through APIs.
Once data is structured – often a natural by-product using a process-based and technology-enabled approach to work – we use a range of tools to share information in an intuitive way with clients.
By processing and analysing large quantities of data, we are able to identify specific pieces of information, or general patterns, that would never have otherwise been identified. We are also able to structure information for clients, so that they can access the data they already hold, but do not fully benefit from.
We are piloting a number of AI tools, focused on document review and analysis use cases.
We may look to use this as part of a wider legal process, for instance reviewing market precedents ahead of a negotiation, or scanning and sorting correspondence for bulk claims work. Alternately, this may be part of a substantive stand-alone review process, allowing reviewers to more reliably and rapidly locate relevant sections of documents.
Trials in a controlled environment should allow us to understand accurately the quality and time benefits of the tools, giving us confidence when relying on the tools in scoping and pricing a piece of work.
Connecting through technology
The impact of technology is significantly increased when technologies are used together through application programming interfaces (API). If a workflow tool tracks progress of activities against a number of milestones, a visualization tool can be used give a holistic view of project progress. If large numbers of contracts for amendment are held in a workflow data base for analysis, an AI tool could extract information, which could be feed into a report through document automation.
At present these connections often have to be set up on a bespoke basis, for individual matters. In the near future, we expect the use of these connections to be significantly more common.
Hubs – supporting people, process and technology
Our Hubs in the UK (Newcastle) and the US (Houston), are centers for innovation in the use of people, process and technology in a legal setting. All work completed by the Hubs is part of a defined process, designed from first principles around the required outputs. Some of these processes are re-used on frequently repeating types of work, others are bespoke to a particular client’s requirements.
Legal work in the Hubs is staffed principally by Legal Process Assistants (LPAs), who are typically recruited as graduates. Once a process has been developed, an LPA is trained against that process, completing dummy exercises (or shadowing a more experienced LPA on live work) until they reach a pre-agreed standard. LPAs continue to be supervised closely by on-site Associates, and the teams they work with in other offices.
Because the Hubs work to defined processes, they are able to integrate technology in a repeatable and demonstratively effective way. The design of these processes, and integration of technology, is overseen by dedicated specialists located in the Hubs.
The Hubs also underpin the NRF Transform Client Benefits that require the reliable and rapidly scalable delivery of non-legal or non-specialist work. This could be part of a limited individual matter with commoditized elements that need to be delivered cost effectively. It could be part of a major transaction, requiring the rapid deployment of large teams. By using a robust approach to training, supervising, and delivering the work, it is also possible to resource work at a more junior level than has historically been possible, while simultaneously improving the quality of the output.
NRF Transform means that we are able to offer our clients enhanced services, end-to-end delivery and maximum value.
Our scale and sophistication means we can provide clients with an unparalleled level of service, by calling on the right expertise, anywhere across the globe, and using the best technology to provide a seamless service. This technology can also be used to better understand clients, and service them in new ways.
We offer a complete end-to-end service on any ongoing legal work or individual project, whether simple or sophisticated. We build a tailored approach, designed and supervised by market leading legal experts, and staffed using the right people for each task.
Maximum client value
We believe legal spend is an investment, which should provide a return to clients. We structure our services to provide the greatest possible value, as a return on that investment. This can mean lean delivery of commoditized tasks, or leveraging world class expertise to ensure the best possible outcome.
Round the world resources
Our global platform means that the legal services a client receives from us are not constrained by the time zone in which they operate. We can provide clients with a matter team using any combination of our 4000 lawyers, across any of our 50+ offices. These teams span all time zones to provide 24 hour resourcing, meaning we can comply with the most demanding turnaround times, designating legal teams across multiple time zones, practice areas and geographies to get the job done, to the right standard, and in the right timeframe.
Data gathering and analysis
Using intelligent data gathering and analysis, we are able to gain new, sophisticated insights into our clients’ legal positions and the progress of their matters in real time. For our clients, the scope and potential impact of these insights is considerable. It could mean live updates on every element of a transaction involving thousands of contracts, or across a portfolio of hundreds of claims. It could mean receiving this information through heat maps, or via an interactive portal. It could mean gaining a deeper understanding of their underlying legal position, leading to a different and more successful strategy.
Running any legal project or process
With a complete range of legal expertise, supported by resourcing, process and technology specialists, we can deliver any scale and any type of legal project or internal process, end-to end. This could be a one-off mass review of corporate positions across thousands of contracts, requiring efficient handling of the routine issues, but needing specialists for more complex items and quality control. Alternatively, it could be the ongoing delivery of work that internal client legal teams might not be able to complete with the same efficiency or at all; at the same time freeing up those client teams to focus on areas where they add the most value.
Efficient working and optimal resourcing
By using sophisticated process design and project management techniques, we are able to ensure that the teams we assign to projects complete them in the most efficient way possible. Similarly, by allocating individuals to matters in an intelligent way, drawing on the offices across our platform, our Flexible Fee Earners and our Hubs, we are able to ensure the right people are doing the right work.
Technology and automation
Technology is key to our delivery of maximum value to clients. This can mean completing tasks which once required extensive manual effort, more quickly and efficiently. It can mean using automation to prepare contracts rapidly and with enhanced quality control. It can also mean getting a better result for clients than would have been possible using traditional techniques, such as gaining a more rapid and nuanced understanding of a client’s problem or opportunity by using contract analysis tools.