For Swedish firm Delphi, business law is a creative practice. Delphi strives to match the innovative capacities of their clients through the services it provides. Key to that service is seamless collaboration and an ability to customise what it provides to each client. That requires Delphi to keep current with technology that allows it to provide the most cost-effective services to its clients, which range from small start-ups to large multinational organisations. And that, in turn, requires a high level of collaboration within the firm, which has 195 employees--150 of whom are lawyers--across offices in five Swedish cities.
As Delphi’s head of digital and innovation, Sophia Lagerholm looks for innovative ways to use technology to boost collaboration and efficiency. In 2017, Delphi acquired the Thomson Reuters® HighQ collaborative platform. “There were many reasons,” Lagerholm says. “Mainly, we saw that it was a great platform with the potential for a lot of different uses.”
HighQ for Internal and External Collaboration
Its first use of HighQ was as a platform for a new firm-wide intranet. “The intranet we had was really inadequate,” Lagerholm recalls. “We were having to rebuild and recreate things all the time. It often didn’t work right, and we’d get frustrated. We’d have to add more code, and it became a big mismatch of codes that didn’t work together.” In addition, “we wanted something that we didn’t have to design ourselves.”
Once the new intranet was in place and Delphi’s attorneys and staff became more familiar with the HighQ platform, the firm found it could use it in many other ways. “Now we have different sites for all of our practice groups,” Lagerholm says. Delphi also uses it as a platform for virtual data rooms, particularly in mergers and acquisitions transactions. The firm also has set up sites that allow its attorneys to collaborate with clients—for instance, for secure document sharing.
One of the most distinctive ways that Delphi has put HighQ to work is in trademark management.
It’s not a simple matter for a company to keep track of its trademarks. Trademarks need to be renewed in each country they’re used, and renewal times vary based upon when and where the trademark was registered. Because of the multiple dates and jurisdictions, it’s useful to have all the information about the trademark—including design details, such as colors—in a central location. That way, the firm and its client can defend it if it is used illegally. (Or if, say, another company uses a logo that’s very similar.) In addition, trademarks often have several different versions.
What happens if a trademark isn’t renewed by the deadline? “One of the problems, of course, is someone else registers the trademark,” Lagerholm says. “That would be a disaster for a big company.” To be sure, a client can manage its trademark on its own. But Delphi’s clients have found it more cost-effective to let their business law firm handle that. That way, they don’t need to set up and maintain their own platform.
Before HighQ, Delphi used another intellectual property management platform. It was a powerful but complicated tool, with much more functionality than Delphi required. "We needed something more practical and more adapted to our needs for our administrators to use," Lagerholm says. “Because we use HighQ as our intranet and for much other internal work, we wanted to take a uniform approach and have the trademark portal in the same place. This would make it easily accessible to more people without requiring expensive licenses and several different programs. The system is easy to manage, which means that new users can quickly learn how to use it. It also gives us the flexibility to receive emails regarding deadlines, instead of having to log into a separate system to find out which deadlines are imminent.”
The key to Delphi’s trademark management system is HighQ’s iSheets capability. An iSheet module is a powerful spreadsheet-like database that stores structured data that allows people to share, collaborate on and track dynamic data. Using a single iSheet, Delphi can actively manage thousands of trademarks registered worldwide. Since iSheets are already part of the HighQ platform, Delphi didn’t need to purchase another platform to set up its trademark system. The iSheets module offers Delphi’s trademark teams more flexibility in configuring the platform to their own ways of working. The system can be accessed from any of the three Delphi offices involved in trademark management. It also lets each office know who is working with what trademarks across those three offices.
In its iSheets setup, Delphi uploads information about each trademark, including images and renewal dates for each country in which the trademark is registered. The iSheets system alerts Delphi when a trademark is up for renewal in a particular jurisdiction. “You can click the link and come straight to the trademark, and see which trademark needs to be renewed,” Lagerholm says.
Working in the Time of COVID-19
Lagerholm says that Delphi has found HighQ particularly helpful during this pandemic period. With most of her colleagues working from home, she’s observed an accelerated increase in use of the platform. “It’s harder to meet in person, so we need a collaboration tool to keep track of everything,” she says. Lagerholm suspects that many Delphi attorneys have been better able to make the time to learn the platform and master its capabilities.
“I believe that the most important area in the future will undoubtedly be external collaboration in the form of even more M&A virtual data rooms, as well as client portals for sharing information and documents in complex cases such as major disputes and complicated transactions,” Lagerholm says. Certain practice groups, such as the M&A team, are already “building up internal portals where they’re sharing information and insights.” In the past, these teams might have shared information primarily in meetings or by email.
Delphi will continue to explore even more ways that HighQ can boost both internal and external collaboration. As Lagerholm notes, “We have a sense that we need to accelerate this digital knowledge because working remotely may be the future.”