This is an interview from our quarterly, community-led publication, The Bundle. Download volume two, issue #1 now to hear from legal leaders at Paddle, Omnipresent, Thirdfort and more.
Over the past few years the company has improved and expanded the use of Slack. We now have naming conventions for Slack channels in the business, depending on the project. For example, if we’re entering into a new market, we would name that channel #market-expansion, and add the country.
This way, everyone who needs to find that channel can search for the country or search for ‘market expansion.’ It makes our projects accessible to the business in a structured way.
Within legal, I spent a lot of time finding ways to organize the information that is shared on Slack. We also strive to keep our conversations in public channels, so they’re easily accessible to colleagues.
When the business lives on Slack, it makes sense for legal to work in the same way - but you need to make the most of its features to do your best work
I make the most of the ‘mute channel’ feature! It’s also really important to leave the channels that are no longer useful to you - for example, if you join a project-related channel and then the business completes the project.
Cleaning up regularly is important - if you own a channel that’s no longer being used, archive it. If you’re in a channel that isn’t relevant to you, leave it.
When the business lives on Slack, it makes sense for legal to work in the same way - but you need to make the most of its features to do your best work and add value to the business.
We’ve established a workflow where legal can respond with the nerd emoji and colleagues will receive an automated message directing them to our legal knowledge base and FAQ.
This workflow allows them to self-serve whenever they have a common question, and if they can’t find their answer then they can request help from legal directly. This has helped us tackle the growing number of queries legal received from the commercial team.
How did you implement this workflow? Where did you start?
My colleague and I attended the Juro community’s Slack workflow roundtable, and felt inspired by the insights shared to play around more in Slack and improve our existing processes.
We had a meeting to bounce ideas back and forth - and one of the ideas we settled on involved an automated message that would direct colleagues to resources and reduce the need for legal to answer the same questions over and over.
We then held a workshop with over 25 lawyers in the team to demonstrate:
We then created a test channel to understand how this would look in practice. One of our values at Klarna is ‘start small and learn fast’ - so we’re not afraid to experiment or to implement something that might not work.
We implemented this in our go-to-market channels with the business development team - so each time they submit a question that may have been covered in our contract playbook, for example, they instead receive an automated response that:
It was imperative that this workflow didn’t reward the wrong behaviour; we needed to encourage teams to self-serve, instead of encouraging them to rely on legal for answers.
This hack has allowed us to give the business the tools it needs to work more efficiently. We hire so many people at Klarna; even if we held regular onboarding sessions and tried to bring everyone up to speed, it’s really difficult to remember all the information thrown at you in your first month at a scaleup.
Through this automated workflow we’re encouraging the business to self-serve and follow processes set up by the legal team - and that saves us so much time we would’ve otherwise spent answering the same questions repeatedly.
We’re also looking at implementing a similar workflow for other legal FAQs we receive from the business.
We get addicted to instant gratification, but this can detract from the real value lawyers can add
We get addicted to instant gratification and the feeling you get when you respond to someone instantly, but this can detract from the real value lawyers can add.
If you spend your entire day on Slack, staying on top of messages, you may get praised for your responsiveness, but that’s not where legal will make the biggest difference. It’s a really reactive way to work - good in the immediate short-term, but not always helpful in the long run.
It’s really difficult to pull yourself out of scrolling through threads and staying on top of messages, and the mindset of seeing this as the main priority.
While Slack is our main comms channel at Klarna, we cannot answer all messages immediately as that will prevent deep work or focus.
This respect for other people’s time and calendars is defined by the company culture, and has to come from the top down - so make sure you agree best practices with the team.
For example, if you’re sending a non-urgent message to a colleague in another time zone, you can schedule it to be sent when that person has started their work day.
We discuss this regularly at Klarna, and set standards for how available legal both needs to be, and is expected to be, on Slack.
Slack’s status feature is particularly useful if you have a day full of meetings, or simply want to block out some time for deep work. Make the most of this feature, and pause notifications to avoid distractions.
Chances are, your colleagues will see your status and understand why it’s taking longer than usual to get a reply from you - and they’ll respect your time.
This is a chapter from our quarterly, community-led publication, The Bundle. Download volume two, issue #1 for the latest need-to-know insights, by and for scaleup lawyers. For more Slack hacks, check out this guide to Slack contract management.