What Is the ROI of Legal Innovation? A Conversation With Chris Grant, Head of Legal Innovation, HSBC

What can in-house legal teams do to better demonstrate the value of their work?

Cyntha Lareine, PERSUIT’s Director of Executive Advocacy, recently sat down with Chris Grant, Head of Legal Innovation at HSBC, to ask him about innovation, ROI, and the impact of technology in legal.

Finding a home in innovation

Chris has worked in a variety of roles during his career, including working both in law firms and in several in-house teams — working to make processes run more efficiently. 

Chris began his career working in a legal firm. He loved the work, but he also found it frustrating that he wasn’t able to do more to help the business run more efficiently. 

He then moved to a role at Barclays, where he started to feel a bit of a home.

“I found a home there because we were very much focused on how to run the organization as a business,” Chris told us. “We had to think about how we were contributing to making the organization more efficient.”


In Chris' words:

"There was the financial crisis, there was mergers, obviously the Lehman acquisition, and suddenly all of the conversations were about how can we be smarter in terms of the way that we work. And there was still the cost pressure within legal.

"So — and very much being driven from the top — we had to think about how we were contributing to making the organization more efficient. So I suddenly found a home. I was able to talk about how we could be bringing technology to the table, about how we could be restructuring ourselves."

The ROI of legal innovation

Today in his role at HSBC, Chris is charged with improving how the legal team improves how they work — especially how they work with outside suppliers such as law firms.  

In an area not traditionally associated with direct ROI, Chris and his team are working to establish expectations for all the projects they role out to the team.

“What I started doing with my team is making sure that everything that we're involved in, we're able to attach an ROI to it,” Chris said.

Sometimes the ROI is a calculation of direct financial savings. Other times it’s a measure of savings due to an increased efficiency.

“Maybe what we want to drive is just an efficiency in terms of our lawyer's time,” Chris said. “That could be a massive save. That could be ROI enough to say: ‘We've taken the admin burden off of our lawyers and been able to put this into a tool.’”


Here's Chris' full explanation:

"It's important that you are clear around that return on investment at the outset. So what is it that you are bringing on board? What is it that it's going to achieve and when will that be achieved?

"For example, bringing PERSUIT onboard, we need to be really clear around what that will drive.

"Ultimately, we're wanting to see a cost control. We want to be able to see that we've got much more cost certainty in terms of the commercial arrangements that we're putting in place.

"So how do we measure that? We use PERSUIT to tender our matters, therefore we get a number of different pricing options that come through as part of the tendering process. How do we know what we would have paid? Or how do we know what that price could have looked like?

"Maybe what we want to drive is just an efficiency in terms of our lawyer's time. That could be ROI enough to just say, 'We've taken the admin burden off of our lawyers and been able to put this into a tool.'

"Most would add on to that a financial piece so that we're seeing a cost reduction or a cost control, because there's two ways that you can look at it.

"We just lose the scope creep that you typically see on matters as they start to run, but also we're comfortable that we're able to get ourselves comfortable that we are achieving the best possible rates that we can for those matters that are going out externally.

"It's not quite an exact science, but trying to work out what that could look like. And there's things that like the insight stuff that you have in the PERSUIT tool at the moment, which lets you see where you're benching across the industry across the broader industry as well. Those are all important things that could start to be part of ROI."

Listen to the full interview

Chris’ full interview is available on the Innovative Legal Leadership podcast, which you can find in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or by searching Innovative Legal Leadership on your podcast player of choice.

Nathan Collier

Nathan Collier is the Director of Content at PERSUIT.