Curve

Helping Curve's legal team to reduce time spent on contract negotiations
pink icon with white arrow pinting up
50%
Increase in overall deal speed
pink icon with white arrow pinting up
30%
Reduction in time spent by Legal on contract negotiations

Introduction

Curve is an over-the-top banking platform that consolidates all bank cards into a single smart card and app. Following multiple highly successful capital raises, Curve experienced rapid headcount growth within a very short space of time, resulting in a high number of new contracts to review and negotiate with limited resources to do so.

On top of that, Legal faced requests coming from a multitude of different systems, including Slack and G-Suite, Jira, and Airtable, leaving it unable to effectively track, triage and manage its workload.

By partnering with TLB, Curve was able to not only free itself from routine work, in favour of strategic, growth-driving initiatives, but to set itself up for success operationally, with a streamlined tech stack, playbooks and market-leading legal ops function.

Case Study: Legal Ops Framework

The Challenge 

In this rapidly growing start up, deal speed was a competitive advantage, with contract turnaround time being key. Alistair, the GC and only in-house lawyer at the time, engaged us to create a lean and sustainable legal ops framework to support the rapid growth of the business, so the legal team could scale at the same pace as the company. 

The Solution

TLB applied the double diamond methodology and design thinking principles to come up with the most suitable solution for Alistair and his team. 

The Benefit 

Curve reported a 30% reduction on time spent by Legal on contract negotiations, and an increased deal speed of up to 50% as the accountability for stakeholder and project management sat with the right function.

Here's how we did it:

Step 1: Discovery

Business requirements gathering: We spent four weeks on-site interviewing key stakeholders to understand the culture, what tools were available and widely used in the business and what stakeholders really needed from their legal team.

Gap Analysis: Legal was at risk of becoming a bottleneck. This sometimes led to Legal being bypassed altogether, with a number of lower value contracts being signed off without any review. At Alistair’s direction, we also found that the company had no central database of contracts so stakeholders were not aware of what contracts the company had entered into or their annual spend.

Tech and tools: We found that the company used Slack extensively and email was used as a secondary communication tool. The company had access to Enterprise G-suite and they used Jira to manage their projects. Docusign was their e-signature solution.

Step 2: Scope Definition

Success criteria: Together with Alistair, we set out to define what success looks like and how we would measure it. We agreed objectives and key results (OKRs) around two main themes: contract turnaround times and self-serve. 

Prioritisation: in order to progress to the design phase, it was important to agree what was a priority and what could be parked for a later time. There was a lot we could do for Alistair but we knew that introducing too much change all at once would be hard to roll out effectively so we agreed what we would prioritise first and the steps we’d take to deliver it. 

Stakeholder mapping: We then agreed what areas we would tackle first, defined what internal stakeholder support we needed and who’s buy-in we’d need in order to roll out.

Step 3: Design and Delivery

We built a suite of tools and processes to overcome the issues identified The following quick wins were identified in Phase 2 which we set out to deliver as a priority: 

Legal intranet

Legal requests were coming from everywhere and Legal was losing track. The business also  had little visibility over the Legal team’s ways of working, creating a barrier between Legal and the business. We built a ‘legal intranet page’ using Google Sites that enabled stakeholders to interact with Legal through a central location and self-serve where possible. Requests were streamlined and business stakeholders had more visibility, increasing transparency and trust in the legal team.

Automatic NDA creation

Legal was constantly being sent third party NDAs which were filling up the to-do list and slowing down the deal-making process. We drafted a balanced NDA and automated it. Stakeholders just had to fill in a form with some basic details and the document was auto-created and sent for e-signature via DocuSign, all in one seamless action.

Stakeholders found the process easier than requesting third party NDAs and were encouraged to use it. This reduced overall incoming Legal requests by around 35% as people are now able to self-serve.

Contract database and alerts

As with any scale-up, the contract landscape can be haphazard and uncertain. Stakeholders often buy software solutions with personal credit cards and enter into commercial relationships without any formalisation.We spent two weeks interviewing team members to understand what contracts they had in place and then went on to build a contract database in Google Sheets with key information about each one.

We then built automatic alerts so that people would be notified when their contract was about to expire or auto-renew.We saw where duplication lay and saved the company £30K through terminating obsolete agreements just through the gap analysis process within the first week of its implementation. The risk of renewing unwanted contracts was removed.

Legal Front Door

People were submitting contracts for review in multiple ways – Slack, email, even Whatsapp. Review requests were being lost and stakeholders were taking the risk of signing off agreements without review. When a review request came in, there were multiple iterations thereafter to find out more about the agreement. This was causing inefficiency and a not insignificant lead time between contract review and submission.

We built a Legal Front Door in Jira that collated all the information from the stakeholder upfront and raised a ticket for each legal query.

Workloads became manageable, expectations were managed and all parties had visibility over the process. We were also able to generate reports and analytics to see which teams were submitting the most contracts, types of contracts Legal was spending most of its time reviewing and enabled Alistair to make decisions about which contracts to invest in creating internal templates for and which to build cheat-sheets for and automate.

Playbooks, cheat sheets and canned responses

To ensure a consistent and streamlined approach, we built playbooks, templates and cheat sheets for the most frequently used legal documents and canned responses for the Customer Experience team so that they could manage simple legal questions that were coming from their users.

Training and comms

Once all systems were in place, we delivered targeted training sessions for each team to equip them with the required skills and knowledge so that they can effectively support activities that were commercially and legally high risk such as negotiations and answering customer questions. This built an effective front-line for the legal team and empowered other team members to take on tasks that would alleviate the workload of the legal team.

The Outcome

Curve reported a 30% reduction on time spent by Legal on contract negotiations and an increased deal speed of up to 50% as the accountability for stakeholder and project management sat with the right function.

GCs and legal teams are no longer solely expected to provide legal advice; they are becoming trusted advisers and drivers of growth in their own right. As the role changes, and senior Legal personnel closer to the board and the CEO, they will be called upon to provide judgement in wider matters that will help steer and shape the business directly. 

This new-found reliance on the senior Legal team outside of the realms of “legal” presents an exciting yet challenging new opportunity to those occupying these roles. However, it also comes with the serious challenges of limited time and resources.

That being said, with the right tools, ways of working and mindset, Legal can be a true business growth enabler and strategic partner.

By the end of the process, we had a suite of bespoke, easy-to-use tools that allowed us to better manage our workload, save time and money and empower other business stakeholders.

Alistair Houghton

General Counsel

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