Al Dahra’s in-house team boost the firm’s bottom line with Josef

“If you can move experienced and talented lawyers on to more complex tasks with automation, you’re adding value to the firm and the bottom-line.”

In seven years, the in-house legal team at the agribusiness firm Al Dahra has grown from just one to a team of 11 (and growing), and the person responsible for such growth? Group General Counsel Dawn Sanderson.

Dawn’s always looking for ways to optimise operations and ensure her team is adding the most value to the wider business, as possible.

Dawn Sanderson, Group General Counsel

Dawn Sanderson, Group General Counsel

To help bolster their efforts, her team decided to start automating their workflows on Josef. They zeroed in on tasks they believed would benefit from an upgrade, prioritised them, and went about building.

Here’s what automating on Josef has meant for the Al Dahra team.

Stewarding Growth

As Group General Counsel, part of Dawn’s job is thinking about how to best support and grow the legal function.

She knows better than anyone that businesses often expect an immediate turnaround on legal work which has a less-than-desirable effect on overworked lawyers.

To help curb team burnout Dawn believes in investing in new technology, and was keen to give Josef a go after hearing about its easy to use, no-code, building functionality. She was sold! Not least of all because she self-describes as “someone who appreciates the complexities of technology, but prefers only to experience its efficiencies.”

“Once we actually saw how simple it was, it became very exciting because it could help us not only with the resourcing issue, but with the legal function’s relationship with the wider business, by delivering an incredible user experience,” she says.

The Benefits of Digital Transformation

For legal professionals like Dawn, digitally transforming the way you work is a no-brainer. Why?  Because tools like Josef take work off your desk and leave you with the room to add greater value to your business.

In Dawn’s words, “If you can move experienced and talented lawyers on to more complex tasks, it’s better for the law firm or legal function of an in-house team because you’re adding value to the business – which ultimately goes to the bottom-line. It doesn’t make any sense to resist Digitalization.

“We needed something that was going to be really user-friendly. And I think the bot is that because everybody uses bots in their day-to-day life. Sometimes without even knowing it.”
– Dawn Sanderson, Group General Counsel

Meet the NDA bot: Alfie

When prioritising what should be automated first, the Al Dahra team decided on NDAs. They built and launched their new tool and affectionately named it Alfie!

Since its launch, Alfie’s been serving clients at all levels of the business and in multiple languages too: English, Romanian and Serbian.

The tool’s wide user-base also demanded it have accessible UX (user experience) and, according to Dawn, they pulled it off!

“We needed something that was going to be really user-friendly. And I think the bot is that because everybody uses bots in their day-to-day life. Sometimes without even knowing it,” Dawn explains.

Upon its release, the feedback for Alfie has been exclusively positive, with team members reporting that it’s quick and easy to use, with or without ultimate input from a lawyer.

“The user experience makes it easier for end-users. But critically it is also positive for us as a legal function because the positive sentiment around the legal department goes up and you get the outcome that you need,” says Dawn.

Benefits extend to firms, too

In her view, the benefits aren’t just limited to in-house teams.

Anything that improves the communication with the client is going to massively give you an advantage over other law firms. Because what people complain about is responsiveness, lack of transparency and communication about fees. These tools can help you with all of those things,” says Dawn.

Reflecting on her team’s automation journey so far, Dawn suggests that innovation via technology is something that requires a little guts.

“Be brave and find the time, even when you are in a very busy, small department. Because if you don’t find the time, you’re just going to keep drowning. You are never going to be able to come up for air,” says Dawn.

Advice worth listening to, from a leader who has pioneered the growth of a significant legal function within a successful international business.

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