Law Department Operations Profile: Lisa Girmscheid at Rockwell Automation, Inc.
Little did Lisa Girmscheid know that her interest in working for a law firm right out of high school would lead her to become one of corporate legal’s hottest trends: non-lawyer, law department operations head.
Directly after high school, Lisa started college, and like many students, was unsure what major to declare. She thought it might be interesting to work for a law firm, so she took a break from school and found an entry-level job in a small firm. Here she received paralegal training in several different areas of the law. She kept books, and was essentially the “Jill of all trades.” After three years, she moved on to a large firm, but decided she wasn’t happy in that environment and subsequently found a job in the law department of a large insurance company. “That’s where I figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up,” said Lisa.
The company was interested in leveraging technology to manage matters and costs, and to use the data to track metrics. The managing lawyer sensed that Lisa would be good at developing the legal technology strategy and processes for the company, so she was promoted to the Administration position. During that time, she completed her B.A. in Business Administration with a minor in Human Resources. After fourteen years with that company, Lisa stumbled upon her current position at Rockwell Automation. Rockwell had recently hired a new General Counsel, Doug Hagerman, who had a goal to transform his area into an “information-enabled” department. To learn more about Lisa and Rockwell’s journey, “Creating a Catalyst for Change: New e-Billing and Matter Management Solutions.” With help from a consultant, Lisa created a legal technology roadmap that subsequently created and defined her position: the role of Legal Administrator. She has since been promoted to the position of Legal Project Manager.
“I report directly to the General Counsel,” says Lisa. “Our Legal Leadership is made up of six practice group leaders: Litigation, Corporate Secretary, Intellectual Property, Employment, Compliance and Commercial, and myself- the one non-lawyer.” The practice leaders supervise other lawyers, paralegals and administrative staff. There are a few other professional positions in the department consisting of a patent agent, records manager and transaction specialist.”
To manage the operations of Rockwell’s legal department Lisa set up system that includes: – Bridgeway eCounsel – to manage matters, e-billing and capture metrics of outside spending – Foundation IP – to manage our patent and trademark matters – Computershare (GEMS) – to manage corporate entities – and SharePoint 2010 for document management and team collaboration sites.
“eCounsel is integrated with the accounts payable function in our SAP System,” says Lisa. “Foundation IP is integrated with eCounsel so we can manage intellectual property matters in both systems. And, all these software products are externally hosted, so our tools are available any time, using any PC, and all without the need to use VPN.”
Lisa runs many reports, and she runs them often. “Each week, I run two to three maintenance reports to ensure data integrity and to make sure the system is functioning as expected. I run monthly spend reports to track spend by practice areas, top twenty law firms, and top twenty matters, all of which I provide to the leadership team. Quarterly accrual reports that focus on major matters and practice areas are also provided to the leadership team as well as to Finance. Fiscal year reports are a series of seventeen to twenty reports that slice spending data and compare year-over-year data. These are shared with the legal department, other executives, and the CEO.”
Lisa conducts law firm reviews consisting of eight to ten reports that provide annual performance reviews of the top ten firms, which is shard with both the legal department and the firm being reviewed. She also runs practice area reports where status and spend data is shared with the practice area teams. But that’s not all, she also runs operations reports that provide timekeeper rates, invoice aging and spend by regions. She also runs spend reports that are used to measure alternative fee arrangements, calculate fee caps, and as a tool for in future rate negotiations. “We use the system to run all kinds of Ad hoc reports. You name it, and we can measure it,” said Lisa. To learn more, view a recent podcast Lisa delivered to ILTA audiences , “Outside Counsel Management: How In-House’s Use of Technology is Driving New Demands and Better Collaboration“, that provides some of her reporting highlights.
Lisa is an active member of the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA), where she holds a seat on their Law Department Steering Committee. She is a member of Bridgeway Software’s President’s Advisory Council, and was named Bridgeway’s eCounsel Client of the Year 2011. Lisa is also a member of the LEDES Oversight Committee (pending). Lisa is married with two daughters. She is also very committed to giving back been active in Junior Achievement, having taught the 2nd grade curriculum in the Milwaukee Public School system and in many other community outreach programs that Rockwell Automation partners with each year. Because she’s cooped up in an office all day, she takes advantage of the excellent fitness program offered by Rockwell Automation- stepping away from the office to enjoy classes in Yoga, Pilates, Core Muscle Conditioning, Zumba, Cardio Kickboxing and Indoor Cycling.