BT announces multi-year expanded partnership with managed legal services provider Factor
Agreement includes increased deployment of ‘empowered negotiators’ with remit to take on more complex work
BT and managed legal services provider Factor have announced they are expanding their partnership.
The multi-year arrangement will see Factor lead commercial contracting for procurement and sales across BT’s customer facing units, provide multi-lingual lawyers to support BT in negotiations, and work to improve efficiencies for the company’s legal team, such as using new technologies to reduce time to market and risk.
“Factor and BT are taking the next step in defining the way complex legal work gets done for modern companies,” said Factor CEO Varun Mehta. “Contracts serve as an essential part of organisations like BT in their relationships with global clients and suppliers. Our partnership with BT enables them to drive higher performance through speed and effectiveness in a way that delivers a better customer experience.”
The relationship between the British telecoms giant and Factor, which is based in New York, began back in 2013 with a legal process outsourcing model that Factor said shifted some lower complexity contracting to a more process-driven, outsourced model. Later, Factor lawyers began to work directly with the BT in-house legal and business teams.
Currently around 60 Factor team members are working with BT at any time, a little more than half of whom are qualified lawyers while the rest are contract specialists. The lawyers have an average of seven years’ experience split between private practice and in-house work, and a spokesperson for Factor said a number had worked with various parts of BT’s business for many years.
The expanded partnership will see Factor lead commercial contracting for procurement and sales across all four of BT’s customer facing units: Consumer, Enterprise, Global and its wholly owned subsidiary, Openreach. Supporting BT from bases in Belfast, Northern Ireland and Wroclaw, Poland, Factor’s team will handle a range of commercial legal work including purchasing, licensing, sponsorship and enterprise customer agreements.
Factor is also now providing multi-lingual lawyers to support BT negotiations in French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.
“We’ve been impressed by the legal knowledge of the Factor team and their enthusiasm to move up the value chain and get involved in more complex matters. BT sees Factor as an extension of our team, having people who are integrated with a sense of ownership and accountability has made such a difference”, says Leeanne Whaley, legal director, digital and procurement, BT. “When Factor is supporting a legal matter our stakeholders for all intents and purposes are dealing with BT Legal. Our standards are high, and Factor has demonstrated that it can meet those expectations.”
Factor said the renewal signalled a more deeply integrated, self-managed service, enabled by its ‘empowered negotiators’ – around 11 experienced lawyers who take on a range of matters including privacy, licensing, outsourcing, technology, telecoms and procurement. The expanded partnership has seen the number of such negotiators more than double.
Factor said the negotiators act as an extension of BT’s in-house team ‘without being limited to playbooked work’ and, as a result, Factor leads on more complex work with fewer escalations, allowing BT Legal to dedicate more focus to strategic advisory work.
Commenting on how a negotiator is appointed, a Factor spokesperson said a candidate with the suitable skillset would be presented to BT, with the two companies working together to decide who is best placed to work on a particular matter. Generally they are chosen from the team of lawyers already working for BT.
Factor is also responsible for introducing further efficiencies for BT Legal, such as reducing the amount of contracting needed by facilitating self-service, standardising, or improving processes and using new technologies to accelerate time to market, improve client experience and reduce risk.
“We strive for continuous improvement and innovation and the partnership with Factor is an integral part of that agenda,” said Sabine Chalmers, group general counsel, company secretary and director of regulatory affairs, BT Global.