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In Conversation with Emma Johnston and Nick Boymal – Lessons From DXC Technology’s Legal Team Transformation

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The legal team at DXC Technology has turned the traditional in-house operating model on its head. To start with, DXC outsources much of its legal work – to itself – in what is possibly the industry’s largest managed services agreement. Then there is its use of technology to transform legal workflow, significantly reducing costs and improving efficiency. 

DXC Technology’s innovative approach to its in-house legal services led to its joint legal team winning the Association of Corporate Counsel’s (ACC) Large Legal Team of the Year at the 25th ACC In-House Legal National Conference.

In this article, co-leaders Emma Johnston, Director ANZ and Company Secretary for DXC Technology, and Nick Boymal, Vice President, Digital Contracting & Commercial Solutions for UnitedLex Corporation, share their insights into why the unique model works for them and their lessons learned.

Birth of a New Model

DXC is a technology solutions company, born from the global merger of HPE Enterprise Services and Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) in 2017. Both businesses had massive global legal teams; together, almost 700 lawyers and contract professionals. When the businesses merged, they were split into two groups:

  • UnitedLex Corporation, consisting of over 70% of the lawyers and contract professionals, specialises in deal-making and contract management; and
  • DXC Technology’s in-house legal team, which supports the company’s employment, competition, merger & acquisition, litigation and company secretarial functions.

In an unusual but practical move, DXC outsourced its entire transactional and contract legal work to UnitedLex, which also operates as an independent legal services provider. The model won the Financial Times 2018 Innovative Lawyers Award in the US. “The decision to partner with UnitedLex recognised that we couldn’t do it all on our own,” said Emma Johnston, who joined the business from CSC.

Nick Boymal, who joined from HPE, runs UnitedLex in Asia Pacific. His key client is his co-leader Johnston. Together they work closely to ensure their goals are aligned and the business’ needs are met.  

Necessity – the Mother of All Invention

Faced with two very different teams and sets of processes, the merger required decisions to be made on what technology and structure would deliver the best results for the business. “We had to take things apart,” Johnston said. 

Cognisant of their ever-shrinking legal budgets, and their teams being asked to do more with less, Johnston and Boymal turned to technology to streamline their workflow. They wanted their operations to reflect the transformative solutions rolled out by DXC to its customers. “We are actively making use of the DXC’s Digital Transformation Centres, taking some of the legal team’s thornier questions and examining them from a non-legal perspective,” Johnston explained.

They also wanted to solve workflow challenges, to:

  • allow them to track what work was coming into the team, and see how busy individual team members were. “It used to be ad hoc and not tracked,” said Boymal; 
  • to manage and store contracts, which at times could not be easily found; and
  • to ensure they had the right level of resources. “Did we have the right people, in the right place with the right level of experience?” Boymal explained.

To date, three key solutions have been rolled out. 

1. BriefBox

Developed in Australia, this software platform captures workflow for non-sales matters, monitors and reports on the status of all legal group matters, and provides a virtual workspace for team collaboration and group announcements. It acts as a communication tool, allowing Johnston to check and report on the status of any contract in play. 

“It’s not real-time, but it’s close to it,” Johnston says, joking that the Managing Director can often get updates on the status of deals faster from her than from the sales team.

2. ContractRoom

This platform is used to:

  • assign matters to legal team members;
  • create contracts from templates;
  • store contracts; and 
  • generate reports. 

It is also integrated into Salesforce, so sales team members can directly log requests for legal support.

3. FastTrack

Australian team members created and launched this plain-English modular contract, designed to conclude contract negotiations in a manner that is both fair and fast. To date, their new process has reduced time-to-contract by more than 50%, providing a significant competitive advantage. 

The team is now working on a global Artificial Intelligence (AI) project with Seal Software. It is designed to review and flag inconsistencies in customer contracts and provide more advanced analytics. “We want AI to mine the DXC contracts and identify risks,” Boymal said.

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Benefits to the Business

The new structure and workflow have been very successful, resulting in a 30% cost reduction globally on their overall legal budget. In the past year, it also allowed them to support:

  • nearly 1000 new business transactions, ranging from small consulting engagements to a large IT services deal worth over $500 million; and
  • the acquisition of three Australian businesses.

In addition, they now have access to data they never knew existed. “We have all this data that didn’t exist four years ago,” Johnston said, helping them to spot trends, manage resource levels and identify issues as they arise. “You need good data to make good decisions.”

3 Key Takeaways From Undergoing a Transformation

Having experienced the merger of two major businesses, the integration of their teams, and the transformation of their workflows, Johnston and Boymal have learned many lessons. For other in-house teams seeking to transform, here is their top 3:

  1. “Never ignore people. People are everything,” Johnston says. “Ensuring they’re engaged, interested and learning is key to making everything work, because that’s what makes a team, and that’s what makes a team greater than the sum of your parts.” 
  2. “Manage change carefully,” Boymal says. “When you’re doing a transformation, too much change all at once can be overwhelming. You need a process for communication, training, testing and then roll out.”
  3. “Maintain a constant connection to the business,” Johnston says. “You can never afford to forget that you exist to serve the business.” Ensure that you have all the right stakeholders in the business, and that they:
  • know what you are doing;
  • support what you are doing; and 
  • can see the benefit of it. 

“You can’t operate in an ivory tower; take the business on the journey,” Johnston concludes.

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Laini Bennett

Laini Bennett

Head of Content

Laini is an MBA-qualified journalist with a strong background in legal and regulatory publishing, having worked in senior management roles for Wolters Kluwer, SAI Global and LexisNexis. Laini is passionate about creating content for professionals that makes it easier for them to do their jobs and comply with the law.

Qualifications: Masters in Business Administration, Southern Cross University, Bachelor of Arts, Macquarie University.

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