The Digital Legal Exchange (“DLEX”), a recently launched non-profit, global institute created to make Digital more accessible to corporate law departments and to deepen the legal / business connection reports a successful first quarter of operations.
With its ambition to scale the digital transformation of the legal industry, DLEX has brought together a unique combination of leading thinkers and doers from business, technology, law, government, and academia to provide general counsel with the tools to embrace a digital world and to deliver new and expanded value to business.
DLEX’s leadership team consists of Executive Chairman Mark A. Cohen, CEO of Legal Mosaic, and Executive Director Reena SenGupta, CEO of RSG Consulting and Founder of the FT Innovative Lawyers Reports and Awards. Both have a combined seventy-year track record of driving innovation and change across the legal industry. Chief Faculty Advisor, Michele DeStefano, Professor of Law at The University of Miami, is also the founder of LawWithoutWalls, a global learning initiative for law students.
Other members of the distinguished faculty of advisors include: Erik Brynjolfsson, the recently appointed leader of the new Stanford Center for Advanced Studies of the Digital Economy; Bill Deckelman, General Counsel, DXC Technology; Peter Bendor-Samuel, Founder of Everest Group; Mari Sako, Said Business School, Oxford University; Rich Davies, Managing Director of the Leading Edge Forum; Anita Parkash, Deputy Director, Singapore Academy of Law; Jeff Ward, Associate Dean of Technology and Innovation at Duke University; and Chris Fowler, General Counsel, Technology, BT Group. The comprehensive list of faculty advisors is available on the Digital Legal Exchange’s website.
The faculty draws from their deep experience to create original content and guides general counsel and their business colleagues in solving real life, real-time, pressing challenges. DLEX is a learning and training institute as well as a community committed to digital transformation advancement. DLEX’s bespoke workshops synthesise the learnings from faculty and member companies whilst its growing community provides a safe space for members to collaborate, exchange information and best practices, and share experiences and ideas.
The genesis of DLEX is the ground-breaking collaboration between DXC Technology, a US$20B global technology company and UnitedLex, the digital technology and legal services company. Bill Deckelman, a faculty advisor to DLEX, transformed the DXC legal function and drove significant commercial value to DXC’s business. The collaboration has been recognized globally through various awards as a major step forward for the legal industry. “Being a digitally-enabled legal function delivered significant impact to DXC’s bottom line,” says Deckelman. “We reduced our overall legal spend by 35 percent in the first year of our transformation, followed by continuing year-over-year cost reduction while dramatically improving our speed-to-contract.”
During its first quarter, DLEX mobilized its extensive networks in business, technology, and law. It completed workshop engagements with two major global corporations, Pearson and 3M, and enrolled a further 12 multinationals into its virtual workshop programme over the following three months.
DLEX is involved in several global initiatives focused on digital transformation. It will power the Financial Times ‘Digital Lawyers’ programme, which will examine the global legal profession’s digital transformation. It has finalized plans to collaborate with the Singapore Academy of Law to deliver a series of workshops to Asia-Pacific based global enterprises. It will also serve as the knowledge partner of the Singapore TechLaw Fest in September 2020, a virtual event projected to draw 10,000 participants from around the world.
DLEX has also launched an internship programme for promising law, engineering, and business students from leading universities around the world. A cohort of DLEX interns from Duke University Law and Engineering schools joined other DLEX team members in the FT Global Legal Hackathon in May 2020 to answer a challenge from Unilever on how to best assess new risks in its supply chains arising from the pandemic.
“The C-Suite expects their legal teams—whether in-house or outside providers—to be proactive enterprise defenders and team with their business counterparts to drive enterprise value. The legal function is being reimagined so that it is no longer a siloed cost center but a value driver,” says Mark A. Cohen the Exchange’s Executive Chairman.
Executive Director Reena SenGupta adds, “The group of experts we have collected in what is essentially an open-source collaboration is unique. It is a completely different approach to anything I have seen in legal before. The collective global thinking, the dynamic problem-solving approach to learning, and the community of workshop member companies—recognized legal and business leaders—has the potential to positively change the legal industry.”
Initial workshop reviews are very positive. Former Pearson General Counsel and incoming GC of GSK Consumer Healthcare Bjarne Tellmann says, “What is very exciting about the Exchange is how it approaches law from a multidisciplinary angle. It is all about redefining how you should manage a legal department.”
“The Digital Legal Exchange approach helped us confidently map out and action our plan to improve how we manage sourcing work, from intake to negotiation and drafting to retention and metrics,” says Joseph Otterstetter, Associate General Counsel of 3M. “Our shared focus throughout was on improving overall client experience and leveraging Digital to overcome challenges.”
Eighteen months in the planning, DLEX comes at a moment when the need for corporate legal functions to achieve a higher digital quotient is acute. Erik Brynjolfsson, a DLEX faculty advisor, asserts “Legal will be one of the industries most affected by digital transformation.”
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