Progress in an industry that favors precedent.
Rosemary Martin
General Counsel, Vodafone

Cutting-edge technology and innovative management aren't always associated with the legal profession. Rosemary Martin, GC of Vodafone, is out to change that. Her uniquely varied, always high-powered career—MBA in the business of law, law firm partner, CEO of a leading legal information firm, GC of two of the world’s most successful companies—has given her an unmatched perspective on how law can be practiced in a way that makes sense in a business context. 

"Now more than ever," Rosemary explains, "technology has a huge amount of potential. Until recently, the role of technology was to move information faster and produce documents that were longer—which wasn’t necessarily better. In fact, longer is often worse. Recently we've been able to shift our use of technology to cut up documents and transactions into different levels of complexity and reassemble them much in the same way an airplane is assembled."

At Vodafone, Rosemary is commoditizing work where she can, standardizing process where possible and in ways that do not solely involve the legal department. In one case, she had the workflow around the sales process re-engineered to automatically generate the necessary legal documentation of the sale. In doing so, her department was able to bypass a minefield of headache and cross-country documentation—ultimately speeding up the process and increasing profit.

Rosemary recognizes that it takes time for lawyers to learn how to disaggregate their work and use technology to cut cost and save time, but in her mind the critical success factors for lawyers are beginning to change. "The role of lawyers going forward will be more about assembling the parts and making sure the whole thing comes together at the right time rather than owning the whole of a process from end to end. That management ability is going to be absolutely critical. There is a different set of skills where you're pulling together a group of people in different places—who don't understand the whole picture of a project—to get them to deliver a complicated product for a client."

Whether innovating through technology or increasing efficiency through smart management, Rosemary is redefining the way her team works and inspiring other GCs to do the same. •