ClientEarth deploys Intapp Documents to enhance legal knowledge management and improve reporting capabilities

ClientEarth, an environmental law charity, chose Intapp Documents to improve its knowledge capture and document-management processes to enhance case tracking, approval, and reporting efforts.

Founded in 2008, ClientEarth harnesses the power of the law to advocate for environmental causes. With a team of more than 200 people across eight offices, ClientEarth operates in more than 50 countries, using the law to create systemic change. The nonprofit organization focuses on a variety of environmental concerns, including eliminating pollution, tackling climate change, defending wildlife and habitats, and protecting forests. Over the years, ClientEarth has been named one of the most effective environmental groups by green leaders and has received BusinessGreen’s NGO of the Year award and the Law Society’s LSA Award for Excellence in Environmental Responsibility.

Overcoming the limitations of manual processes

Prior to implementing Intapp Documents, ClientEarth, a nonprofit legal services provider, relied on spreadsheets to capture high-level case information. Unfortunately, these spreadsheets merely scratched the surface of what was needed. “We had no system to track case details — like what was the status, who was involved, and the jurisdictions — which meant that everyone was managing their own cases and securing approvals via email,” said Gillian Hankey, Manager of Matter Management and Reporting at ClientEarth.

Managing documents related to accepting those cases also entailed manual processes, which further complicated case-acceptance procedures. “If you had a simple matter that involved Agriculture and Climate Finance, you needed approval from the budget holder, then from both program heads,” said Hankey. “You also needed a separate approval for your communications guidelines, and another from the geography head. And for certain cases, you also needed to add the approval of senior management, up to the board.”

“Because our approval process involves multiple layers of stakeholders specific to each matter, we needed a simple routing process that automated timely feedback and signoff. Intapp Documents closed this gap,” Hankey said.

“Because our approval process involves multiple layers of stakeholders specific to each matter, we needed a simple routing process that automated timely feedback and signoff. Intapp Documents closed this gap.”


Building the infrastructure for knowledge management

Unlike in a traditional law firm, where lawyers receive data for incoming matters and analyze it to chart a course, ClientEarth’s lawyers assess the viability of a case to determine whether it merits the allocation of donor funds and what its potential impact could be.

“The scoping process prevents some cases from moving forward, but we don’t want to lose the context supporting the decision in the moment,” said Hankey. “When circumstances change — perhaps when a new person with unique expertise joins and could help us progress a dormant case — we need to be able to revisit those opportunities and leverage our knowledge-management capabilities to bring it to fruition.”

In addition to simplifying knowledge capture, Intapp Documents provides robust reporting capabilities that help the ClientEarth development team secure funding.

“Because each funder is unique in the information they expect and the questions they ask — things like success rate, case impact, and experience with certain types of matters, industries, and geographies — we turned to Intapp Documents to streamline this process,” said Hankey. “We now run a regular 15 reports monthly, each tailored to specific expectations and needs.”

Working together to roll out Intapp Documents

Since ClientEarth functions differently than a traditional law firm, the organization teamed with Intapp to outline a plan customized for its specific way of working.

“We knew up front that we were going to roll out Intapp Documents to the whole organization, and that we needed to plan for that,” said Hankey. “Our first order of business: Remove the silos so that our people have visibility into what others are doing — because you can’t share knowledge in a vacuum.”

ClientEarth’s plan included using Intapp Documents for collaboration and version control for cross-functional matter teams. “Although it’s helpful to see what others have added to shared documents, it’s the ability to file emails and documents on a case that’s especially useful when you’re working across teams and need to be able to share everything,” said Hankey. “It’s really about the simplicity of the system, in that everything works the same way it does in Microsoft Office 365. We don’t have to invest significant time and effort into convincing our people to get on board with Intapp Documents.”

The organization started out with 100 licenses — which it anticipated would work for at least 2 to 4 years — and implemented strict guidelines about who had access. Since then, the organization has grown considerably.

“We quickly scaled to 160 licenses, and we’re going strong because everyone benefits from participating,” said Hankey. “In 90 minutes, our people are fully trained and have full purview into the cases they’re taking over from others. The templates are pre-loaded into the system and everything is automated — it’s turnkey.”

“It’s a no-brainer that it’s best to select products designed to work together. Just imagine being able to refer to case numbers and capture data across systems that relate to that case seamlessly.”


Expanding engagement with Intapp Workspaces

Building on the success of Intapp Documents, ClientEarth is planning to roll out Intapp Workspaces for matter and knowledge management. “We intend to use Intapp Workspaces to support our advocacy program, which involves a coalition of partners working together,” said Hankey. “Advocacy requires document sharing, and Intapp Workspaces allows us to externally share subsets of documents while retaining ownership.”

ClientEarth is also rolling out Intapp Time, with the intention of using time tracking to calculate the costs of potential engagements. “Using time-tracking data, we can more accurately ascertain the time spent on different types of cases and understand the specified level of funding,” said Hankey. “It enables us to be transparent to our funders as it’s the data that substantiates and justifies the cost.”

Hankey agrees that the interoperability of the Intapp product suite has benefited the organization: “It’s a no-brainer that it’s best to select products designed to work together. Just imagine being able to refer to case numbers and capture data across systems that relate to that case number seamlessly.”

Executive Summary

Prior Challenges

  • Cumbersome manual processes made it difficult to track cases and secure approvals from internal stakeholders.
  • Limited knowledge-management capabilities hindered the ability to track and retrieve shelved cases when new expertise warranted their revival.
  • Outdated reporting capabilities prevented the development team from customizing presentations for funders with reliable case-related data.
  • Nonprofit business model necessitated unique reporting requirements to help secure funding.

Results with Intapp

  • Streamlined automated processes: Closed-loop case management protocols generate complete data sets and enable timely reviews and approvals.
  • Formalized knowledge capture: Documented progress on cases provides the opportunity to share case information and revisit dormant opportunities when the time is right.
  • Robust reporting capabilities: Tailored reporting ensures that each relevant team — including the development team — is prepared for specific information requirements and likely questions.
  • Successful implementation and adoption: Tight alignment between Intapp and ClientEarth ensures that implementations meet the organization’s unique requirements.

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