Zoe Morrissey, Legal Business Partner at National Grid, Shares Her Automation Journey

Drivers for automation

Spending large amounts of time on low value, highly repetitive document drafting was limiting the legal team’s ability to deliver on its true strategic potential for the business. Zoe explained how she wanted to empower the wider business to do more themselves and not have to keep coming back to time-constrained lawyers. Not only would this reduce the legal team being seen as a bottleneck but it would also enable the lawyers to spend more time on more value-add, strategic activities.

“We were spending hours on some contracts removing square brackets just to get them into a good position to share with a counterparty and be able to start negotiations. We were also struggling with consistency as, understandably, individuals would often go back to the last similar contract they did rather than necessarily go back to a precedent, presuming there is one.”

It’s not always love at first sight

In spite of the possibility of removing pain points such as these, Zoe recalled some wariness in her legal team when it came to accepting automation as a part of BAU. She suggests team leaders have a role to play when it comes to supporting their teams in being open-minded as to how automation could support them and the business. There remains for some a fear that automation may impact on their roles. Zoe feels quite the opposite:

“I asked the team if they considered taking out 300 square brackets to be a good use of their time. Of course, they didn’t, but prior to automation it was just part of the job. I also asked them to consider what they could achieve by taking out the noise – give themselves more thinking time and do more of what they enjoy doing and where they can really add value to the business.”

Don’t boil the ocean: be selective

“Find a pinch point and use it as a test ground,” Zoe advises. “Make sure you choose a contract that is right for automation and you will quickly realise the benefits and can grow and build from there.” This approach can self-perpetuate automation adoption as the wider business realises quick wins and looks for further opportunities.