by Byron Connolly

CIO50 2016 #26-50: Berys Amor, Corrs Chambers Westgarth

Nov 24, 2016
Technology Industry

The legal sector is becoming more competitive than ever and firms need to think differently about the services they provide to acquire and keep clients.

“This provides opportunity for the CIO and the technology team to shift from being purely a support function to one that is helping to drive innovation throughout the business and the services provided to clients,” says Berys Amor, director of technology at Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

Amor understands this better than anyone and has led a technology team that has created solutions that integrate Corrs into its clients’ legal practice and value chain.

Amor’s team is providing the systems and tools to support the firm’s clients’ daily activities and deliver efficiencies and cost savings for these organisations.

One innovation is Crisis Covered, a two way communication tool, created in 2015/16 that changes the way the law firm’s client seek and receive legal advice following a crisis. Once legal advice has been sought on any smartphone, PC, tablet or mobile device, the app hijacks the screen and enables key decision makers to direct their attention to the crisis.

“This ensures everyone can do the right thing at the right time, which is extremely important in times of intense stress. The app is not designed the replace the client’s internal crisis management process but rather to complement them and mitigate further legal risk,” Amor says. “Crisis Covered has started to make a difference to Corrs’ clients in the construction, property, logistics, energy and resources industries.”

Another innovation is Corrs Collaborate, a responsive dashboard for clients that streamlines and automates everyday processes to drive efficiencies. This product uses APIs and web service protocols to aggregate contextually-relevant data and market intelligence.

“This goes far beyond a traditional client reporting and statistics dashboard. For example, a client who manages an extensive property portfolio could use Corrs Collaborate to enter information on a potential site or existing sites, gain visibility of the status of properties, see what stage a contract negotiation is at or when a lease is due to expire,” says Amor.

Another key part of Amor’s strategy has been the deployment of the NetDocuments cloud-based document management system, which began in early 2015. This involved a complete rebuild of the organisation’s standard operating environment and reimaging of its fleet of 950 laptops nationally.

This reimaging and migration of staff across four offices to the new system occurred over just one weekend. It included migrating 14 million documents and emails from the old system to the new and logging in each laptop to synchronise over 3.4TB of email data.

“The successful outcomes of this project provide Corrs with the right tools to enhance internal and external client collaboration, and drive productivity. It also reduces system management and operational overheads while maintaining compliance of the firm’s strict data and cloud security framework,” says Amor.

This project has also supported Corrs’ move to a more flexible working environment. Lawyers and partners have forgone their traditional offices and now work in uniform workstations in an open environment, sharing collaborative spaces.

A culture of collaboration

Amor encourages collaboration and networking with her peers both in the legal industry and in other sectors.

‘It’s a great opportunity to learn how CIOs from other industries have approached technology, business challenges and innovation,” she says. “It is also important for me to collaborate and learn about our clients’ business challenges and how we can use technology to address them.

“And as technology becomes such an integral part of the business and the service we provide to our clients, data security and the associated risks, need to be paramount for IT chiefs. This is where we can provide guidance and influence the business and leadership teams.”

Career progression opportunities

At Corrs, Amor has also created clear development pathways that integrate with each team member’s performance objective plan. An internal development program ensures team members have an opportunity to develop and move up within the technology team.

Recently, two members returned from maternity leave and the flexible working program ensured they could maintain a challenging role and also meet their personal commitment. Staff have the option of purchasing additional annual leave, working from home or reducing hours.

“One of those team members on returning to the workforce after two maternity leave breaks, also accepted a promotion to the business analysis team to expand her skills and develop her career further,” says Amor.