DLA Piper moves over 3,000 employees to remote-working in just 36 hours as a result of strong IT infrastructure


DLA Piper’s collaborative administrative resource model, underpinned by legal specific workflow solution, BigHand Now, has enabled the firm to move its entire staff to home-working within 36 hours, while continuing to deliver an exemplary quality of service to its clients under extreme circumstances.

Norma Spearman, Chief Legal Support Officer at DLA Piper explains, “When COVID-19 started to become more widespread, we realized the best option to protect the health and safety of our workforce was to move to 100% remote work. As part of that transition, we tapped into each of our assistants and had them reach out to each attorney to ensure they had BigHand Now downloaded on to their computers, and walk them through how easy it is to use the tool, before they left the office.”

The workflow solution helps firms to ensure that remote working is optimized for support staff and lawyers, so that client service delivery remains optimal. With full visibility of the workflow, firms can better understand which types of work are being delegated, what the progress of certain tasks are at any time, and are able to easily move work around to optimize resource capacity.

Spearman offers advice to other firms, “The most important part of the onboarding process is to select a few workflow types, engage subject matter experts to provide a strong support system, which can be done remotely and make sure staff understand their role within the team concept. Law firms are used to working in silos, but BigHand helped us to convey that there is a more efficient, better way of prioritizing and getting work done.”

DLA first implemented the technology in 2018 to all 28 US offices over a five-week period, a rapid deployment supported by a detailed communication and training plan, including webinars.

Sonji Le Blanc, Sr. Manager for Legal Support Services said, “The message was simple: “Don’t let your work get lost in email”. With BigHand we can make sure it gets done. If the local team doesn’t have the capacity, it’s very easy to give it to someone who can do it right away and get your needs met.”

Ensuring work is not lost in email is more important than ever at this time. With no one sitting next to each other and important information suddenly buried in individual screens across the country, having visibility of key workflow data is crucial to maintain high service standards.

Le Blanc adds, “The beauty of BigHand is that anyone with the relevant skills can pick up and complete work in a timely fashion. However, people are now also communicating and talking to each other in ways they never did before, asking each other how a certain task was done, and asking for help. The distance has made them closer in terms of reaching out to each other.”

With the infrastructure for remote working in place and proven, DLA Piper can continue to support those staff members who wish or need to stay remote, while focusing on the physical aspects of preparing its offices for those who do wish to return to an office environment, over time.

“Without BigHand, in a hybrid model we would have to increase staff numbers - effectively overstaff - to be able to anticipate all the attorneys’ needs,” Le Blanc explains. “But for us, regardless of when and how people return to work, it’s simply business as usual because we have the workflows in place to support staff regardless of where they are.”

Spearman concludes, “The current practice of law looks like nothing we’ve seen before. And the bi-product of the work we’ve done with BigHand has been an instrumental component of our business continuity. Thanks to BigHand, we’ve been more well prepared than we could ever have anticipated to continue to deliver exemplary service to our clients, in circumstances more extreme than any of us could have imagined.”

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