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Legal Innovation Briefing - June edition

June 05, 2018


Partners Simon Vannini
Special Advisors Caroline Ferguson
Senior Associates Louise Taylor

Legal innovation & technology Digital & new technologies

Welcome to this month’s Legal Innovation Briefing, a selection of insights and updates curated for in-house legal teams.  

With over 500 events in 24 locations across the country, the recent TechWeek18 programme provided a great opportunity to learn about New Zealand’s rapidly growing technology and innovation sectors.  

We attended a number of the events and found them to be very insightful and inspiring. It was clear, however, that we face a number of challenges in terms of ensuring we have an ecosystem that can support and enable technology and innovation developments in a way that keeps us relevant on the global stage. 

Developing skills and effective collaboration were highlighted as two critical areas for action, and are equally important in the legal sector. As shown by NetApp’s legal team below, they can be extremely powerful when you get it right.

The Big Idea: How legal teams can use their unique position to drive innovation 

From three-foot-tall-stacks of contracts in 2010 to Best Legal Department for use of technology in 2018, NetApp’s legal team has had a remarkable transformation and become a technology leader within the company.

According to Emily Teuben, senior legal operations manager for the California-based company, the legal team’s unique position of collaborating with the entire company allows them to identify areas for improvement and implement technology to assist. 

It all started with General Counsel Matthew Fawcett declaring “war on paper” and then hiring Connie Brenton to build a tech-focused ops team. Although there was initial resistance, by 2017 the department had implemented workflow processes to simplify document collection, redesigned the legal intranet and created new dashboards. They now use their skills and technology capabilities to drive improvements in other parts of the business – what a great result for the company.

What we are up to: Legal Innovation workshop series 

After two fully subscribed sessions in Auckland, we will be running our legal process improvement workshop in Wellington on 4 July. 

Led by Caroline Ferguson and Alexander Ivanov from our Business Transformation team, the workshop looks at: 

  • how to best adapt process improvement methodologies to legal processes 
  • how to get started, and the five key steps to follow for sustainable process improvements
  • how other in-house legal teams have improved the accuracy, speed and quality of their processes.

Other upcoming topics in the Legal Innovation series include:

  • 12 July (Auckland) – how legal teams can effectively engage with agile processes 
  • 9 August (Auckland) – knowledge sharing and information within and across departments 

If you are interested in attending any of these workshops or would like further information, please contact Caroline Ferguson (09 977 5336 /

Digest: interesting listening / reading 

If you are interested in learning more about some of the events at TechWeek, here is a radio report and article to check out:

  • NZ invention may save space explorers million – Science and Innovation reporter Charlie Dreaver talks to the winners of the New Zealand Act-in-Space hackathon event which was run by the French and the European Space agency. Team Marama’s idea involves using virtual reality to save space agencies millions of dollars in repair costs. They will now be heading to France in a fortnight to compete in a global competition. 
  • How blockchain and VR are impacting creative industries  – virtual reality and augmented reality were especially popular at the Creative Realities event, with a great example shared by The Breast Cancer Foundation NZ of how virtual reality is being used as a therapeutic tool for breast cancer patients. A vision for how blockchain could be used in the entertainment industry was also covered.