INNOVATIVE THINKING. EFFECTIVE RESULTS.
What makes us different
We provide day to day support from experienced lawyers who have spent significant time working as part of a team inside some of the world’s top companies. Our business model makes it possible for you to call us whenever you need us – without fear. Working with creative founders each day motivates us to practice law differently. We think strategically, embrace flexibility, and design elegant solutions in the face of constraints.
How we can help
- We negotiate and draft commercial contracts, licensing agreements, and end user agreements.
- We design and build legal frameworks from scratch for start-ups, within budget and with business goals in mind.
- We optimize commercial deal flows for companies of all sizes.
- We use our experience working as part of in-house teams to give contextualized, practical advice.
- We analyze risk and create targeted plans to address key risks within your available legal budget.
- We offer unique expertise in copyright licensing, recorded music, SaaS, live performance agreements, social enterprise, and content based businesses (e.g. podcasting).
- We provide on-site support in the GTA, Montreal, and Waterloo.
MaRS is a not-for-profit organization and registered charity, located in Toronto, Canada. The MaRS mission is to drive positive global impact as the partner of choice for entrepreneurs and the innovation community. In addition to other programs, it works to support start-ups tackling such pressing challenges as supply chain issues, access to healthcare and climate change. As North America’s largest urban innovation hub and a convening place for Canada’s innovation economy, MaRS is at the fulcrum between established companies and startups, old economy and new.
Situation at MaRS:
- Erin Eizenman, the General Counsel (GC) at MaRS was given the mandate to rebuild the in-house legal team when she joined the organization.
- The small team had a high volume of legal requests under time pressure.
- There was no established process for legal intake.
- Requests were fielded through various channels (email, phone, Slack, etc.).
- It was difficult to track or centralize data regarding all the various requests.
- This meant it was challenging for the legal team to track volume, status, timeliness of deliverables, priorities, workload factors and sources of all the inquiries in an efficient way. Any reporting would be manual or via spreadsheets, which were inefficient to update.
- Internal clients needed clarity on how to optimize their legal requests.
- The GC noticed there were certain parts of the contracting process that were more difficult than they needed to be, for instance, in gathering key information and instructions from the business units.
- Eizenman was empowered to build solutions to make these processes easier for both the business units and the stretched legal team.
- The GC and Inter Alia collaborated to look for a new way to cut down on inefficiencies.
- It was agreed that if a new centralized legal intake solution was created, it might provide the following benefits:
- Streamline and centralize requests.
- Provide real-time status and a centralized reference point for all members of the team.
- Provide a user-friendly template to ensure legal receives key information from internal clients at the outset of any legal request.
- Provide an opportunity to track, measure and improve.
- Clarify what information is necessary for the legal team to be able to provide the best legal advice possible in an efficient manner.
- Gather data that can be used to consider additional improvements and resourcing.
- The solution was purpose-built to tackle the main friction points being observed.
- To remain cost-effective, a user-friendly workflow software already in use by MaRS was selected and customized in collaboration with IT.
How We Worked Together
- Inter Alia collaborated with the MaRS legal team to identify the pain points in the process and to help develop potential solutions. It was agreed that any solution needed to be grounded in the observations the team was seeing and to adopt a practical approach.
- Together, they collaborated with IT and other departments to define and develop the intake solution.
- Clear objectives were defined for the new intake process as well as an easy-to-use backend dashboard service.
- The offerings provided by legal were “productized” and templates were created for repeatable contracts.
- All internal client teams were trained on the new intake process. Not only was this an opportunity to launch the new dashboard, but also a chance to educate teams about how best to work with legal and how to avoid common pitfalls.
- Having Inter Alia onboard meant the GC had a partner in defining and creating practical solutions as well as providing additional bandwidth, which ensured that work on the project did not stall despite the high day-to-day volume.
- Vastly improved workflow process, response times, and provided a clear understanding of legal department value and volume being handled.
- Across a three-person legal department, it is now clear to all that they have hundreds of tasks on the go at any one time.
- Nearly half of the received requests were being marked as rush by internal clients.
- Use of MaRS templates is effective and outscores any other legal product by nearly two times.
- The use of a strategy session is a popular way to get quick legal guidance at key inflection points in the process to great benefit to the business and the overall contracting process.
- Data is now collected to identify and track a large number of management variables, including team member level workload, client specific volumes, product variance and volumes.
- Collected data helps identify ways to further improve service delivery and tools.
- Collected data helped business teams understand the competing priorities and volumes. Providing clarity on what constitutes a real rush legal inquiry, for instance, ensures that fewer can be requested, which retains bandwidth for the inquiries that really need an urgent turnaround.
- Dashboard allows real-time reporting of in-progress requests to provide a snapshot of the legal team’s projects and inquiries in real time.
- Dashboard is now one of the tools that can be used by finance to confirm when contracts are most likely to close.
- Eliminates any speculation of where contracts are in the process. Data showed clearly that the majority of time spent in the contracting process is with the third party and not with the MaRS legal team.
- All necessary information and requirements are met prior to a request being fulfilled, gaining efficiencies for both legal and business departments, which lead to huge time savings and an improved overall experience.
- MaRS is a centre for innovation and the project with Inter Alia created an opportunity for the legal team to demonstrate how they could be innovative in their own work and to make legal more accessible. This highlighted the benefits of what can be done when we meet our clients halfway and find easier ways for everyone to be successful.
- The MaRS legal team does not know how they worked without this process and product. They continue to work closely with Inter Alia and to recommend their services.
Inter Alia started working with Pacific Content Company in 2016, just shortly after the company was founded.
Pacific Content is an award-winning podcast agency working passionately at the intersection of brand strategy and high-quality audio storytelling. They have created podcasts for companies like Slack, Dell, and Facebook, and were recently acquired by Rogers Media.
When Inter Alia first met Pacific Content, Pacific Content did not know what was required from a legal perspective and how to manage their risks within their budget. They didn’t really know where to start. They described themselves as “overwhelmed by lawyers and the scope of work leading to inevitable huge bills which we would incur if we called and asked the questions we needed to ask“.
INTER ALIA LAW VIEW
We wanted to help Pacific Content bring their brilliant idea to life by using legal as an enhancement to their business model and a tool to help define the company’s brand voice, culture and reputation. We used the contract framework to amplify the culture of easy and relationship-focused deal-making they wanted to create.
HOW WE WORKED TOGETHER
According to Rob Leadley, Pacific Content Company’s CFO/COO, “Inter Alia worked with us virtually as if they were part of our team from day one, hands off when necessary, and hands on/immediately responsive when necessary. They helped us understand risk, but also gave practical advice on what that risk meant, and suggested ways to minimize it. Inter Alia’s strategic approach to legal services made the legal arm of our business a competitive advantage.”
To find out how we did this, CONTACT US. We’ll provide our detailed case study for your review and do an initial consultation on how we can help you.
- Pacific Content was acquired by Rogers Media in early 2019.
- The case study is a proof point for the idea that a small investment in setting up a good legal infrastructure for a company in the early days is possible, at a reasonable budget, and can be a key driver of additional value in an exit scenario.
In the words of our clients
Rob Leadley, CFO/COO, Pacific Content
Ransom Hawley, Caddle Inc.
Darlene, Mike, Rowan and the rest of the team at Inter Alia truly understand the demands made of in-house legal teams and work alongside you to build tools, systems and processes that deliver for the organization as a whole. I always appreciate their ability to provide technical legal advice in a practical way and their desire to innovate, both of which resonate with our business teams. Their value proposition is outstanding: smart and collaborative lawyers who put their clients first, everytime.
Erin Eizenman, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, MaRS Discovery District
Amanda Cupido, Lead Podcasting
I've been thrilled with the support that Darlene and Steven have provided for our software development agency. Incredibly responsive, always thoughtful and on-point with feedback and advice, and very genuine in their approach to helping us with contract negotiations. There's far less stress in our day-to-day knowing they're in our corner and ready to help.
Nick Wilkinson, Steamclock Software Ltd.
Kathryn Harrison, Flipturn Publishing
Ransom Hawley, Caddle Inc.
Rockstar legal team for a SaaS business... Highly recommend. Been working with Darlene and her team for years now on all the legal bits that surround an Enterprise SaaS GTM motion.
Ryan Susanna, LogiSense Corporation
Chris and the team at Inter Alia have been a huge help in supporting our growth. They are experienced, truly understand our business, can anticipate potential issues, and offer pragmatic solutions. We have worked with multiple members from the team and have always experienced consistency in the attention and level of service we have received. We are very fortunate to be working with Inter Alia – Highly recommended!
Chris Parkes, NuraLogix Corporation