Clifford Chance: Bringing the Legal Industry into the 21st Century

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When I think of the word lawyer, it conjures up classic images. A brass nameplate, a bookcase stuffed with leather-bound tomes, and a wooden desk overflowing with paper files. Despite playing an indispensable role in the running of business and society, the legal sector has been slower to evolve its approach to digital working compared with other client-facing industries.

But not Clifford Chance. One of the world’s ten largest law firms, Clifford Chance is committed to putting its clients first and personalizing their experience. Today, that means becoming a digital leader and adapting its marketing and customer experiences for a digital-first world.

As part of its digital transformation, Clifford Chance has implemented a full suite of Adobe technologies. Adobe Experience Manager powers its website and client portal, Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target further personalizes its digital experiences and Adobe Campaign keeps customers informed about the latest need-to-know information and guidance on topics such as government policy, climate change, Brexit and digital currencies, to name just a few. In parallel, Adobe Document Cloud enables Clifford Chance to digitize its document workflows, which have become indispensable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Global Law Firm for a Digital World

Clifford Chance prides itself on customer relationships, which it traditionally built face-to-face. Its services span corporate law, banking and finance, investments, litigation and dispute resolution, but above all it has distinguished itself by giving clients access to on-site legal expertise in every jurisdiction.

But the nature of these relationships has evolved. Two years before the COVID-19 pandemic forced changes across the legal industry, Clifford Chance had already begun to transform for an increasingly digital-first customer base. Denese Edgar, Head of Marketing at Clifford Chance, had a clear mandate to modernize how the firm communicates with audiences. As the way people live and work continues to change, Clifford Chance needed to deliver the same standard of experience whether its clients engage with the company in person or online.

While Clifford Chance typically serves B2B customers, Denese is adamant about building a digital offering that can go toe-to-toe with the best consumer-facing experiences. When marketing to people digitally, the company no longer competes with other B2B firms exclusively. It competes with every brand trying to reach its audience.

From an operational perspective, Clifford Chance has digitized its approach across departments by making Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Document Cloud available to all its employees. Combined with its Adobe Experience Cloud solutions, Clifford Chance’s investment in digital technology sends a clear message about its commitment to becoming a digital leader within its industry.

The digitization of document workflows came into its own during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Anthony Vigneron, Director of Legal Technology Solutions at Clifford Chance, the logistics of drafting and signing documents in person had become unsustainable as employees and clients began working remotely, and Adobe Sign helped the firm to plug that gap.

The Digital Journey Begins

Clifford Chance had an ambitious but clear goal: to better serve its clients in a world of digital products and services. Unlike many law firms, Clifford Chance no longer relies on industry-specific technologies. Its integrated suite of Adobe solutions draws on years of research and development across sectors, positioning Clifford Chance to compete alongside the best digital experiences from every industry.

From a marketing perspective, that meant getting its website, CRM and marketing automation platform working together as an integrated system, and then drawing on analytics to gain a complete customer view.

Its path was less straightforward, however. Clifford Chance had built up a tangle of legacy systems that didn’t share data between them and led to fragmented customer experiences. Working with Adobe, the company has been able to simplify its marketing and customer experience technologies, with improvements coming daily.

This is an organic journey that evolves as Denese and her team dive deeper into their systems and what they need to achieve. For instance, they realized early on that their IT support model wasn’t fit for purpose, and are now going through the process of bringing marketing and IT teams closer together.

Collaboration between marketing and IT is a key focus for Clifford Chance, one that starts in the boardroom with its CIO and CMO. The departments now align on every joint decision, from which marketing technology to buy, to how it should be rolled out, which improves their working relationship and speeds up decision-making. An agile operating structure ensures Clifford Chance’s marketing and IT teams are aligned in their priorities, product focus and cadence, setting them up to deliver on the business’ needs without missing a beat.

Clifford Chance’s journey with Adobe Document Cloud has also accelerated. It first implemented the technology in 2019, but when COVID-19 hit in March of 2020 adoption grew exponentially. Clifford Chance now uses Document Cloud for a range of digital workflows, from supply chain and procurement contracts to the creation of pitch materials and client communications.

Big Wins Come Quickly

Clifford Chance is in the early days of its digital journey but has already made significant strides, using data to shape its customer experiences. For instance, A/B testing with Adobe Target and Analytics has helped the company to personalize its client portal so clients always receive the most relevant content based on their preferences and interests. The solution is also helping Clifford Chance find the sweet spot between personalized experiences and information overload, which has in turn seen usage for the portal jump 61%.

For Denese, it is important to balance quality of information with convenience and simplicity. A/B testing gives her team insight into how people are using the portal and ways to improve their experience, be it changing the structure of the portal’s menu or restructuring the user journey.

One of the major benefits of Adobe Document Cloud was its ability to scale quickly in response of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability for employees to review, exchange, and sign legal documents from any device kept the business in motion, with adoption reaching its highest levels ever in March of 2020.

Document Cloud doesn’t just make Clifford Chance’s document workflows and billing procedures faster. It accelerated the rate at which it does business, securely, from its internal operations to the legal opinions it shares with clients, explains Anthony. What’s more, he reflects that the solution has improved the user experience for Clifford Chance’s employees and clients alike.

In the case of contracts in particular, procedures that previously took weeks or months can now be completed in just 15 minutes, on average. As importantly, 83% of agreements are signed correctly the first time around thanks to a simple user experience for customers and employees alike.

Clifford Chance is now up to roughly 2000 contracts per month signed with Adobe, while its employees have adopted e-signatures with open arms. Not only does the firm serve clients faster, it can also initiate billing procedures faster, which is a win-win all around.

Looking to the future, Denese is eager for the next phase of Clifford Chance’s digital journey. More employees than ever want to engage with her team, having now seen the importance and impact of their work on client relationships. For Denese, that’s exactly the kind of cultural shift that will make Clifford Chance’s digital offering a success.