Inside Mastercard’s Digital Transformation Through Legal
Mastercard’s legal team adopted Ironclad to stay on top of digital transformation in business. And by making its contracting process more efficient and scalable, the team also freed its lawyers to act as strategic business partners.
This story is part of our ongoing Digital Transformation series, which explores how organizations are adapting their in-house legal teams amidst major changes in how we work. We hope that these stories provide actionable advice that can help organizations as they make their own transitions.
Staying agile as a 19,000+ person organization is no easy feat. Yet, Mastercard is among the first in its industry to devote significant efforts to digital transformation for lawyers, adopting new legal technology and scaling its legal operations. Since the onset of COVID-19, Mastercard’s initiative has also played a crucial role in enabling its legal team to adapt to the major shifts.
To understand how Mastercard is responding to global challenges and adapting its legal organization for the future, we interviewed Anushree Bagrodia, Senior Managing Counsel and Legal Transformation Lead at Mastercard. She shared with us insights into how legal teams can prove value, prepare for new challenges, and move into the digital age.
How has Mastercard been adapting to the major global changes that are impacting businesses?
As a company, we’ve been reaching out to our customers to understand what they are going through right now. How can we step up our game and help them out? One way has been the fraud protection program, because, unfortunately, hackers and scammers are using this pandemic to their advantage.
“The team at Ironclad has been such collaborative, amazing partners. They really listen to what our problems are and are so proactive in helping us solve these new challenges.”
We’ve also been working with small businesses and financial institutions to help them gear up and prepare. It’s great to see how, in a lot of different ways, Mastercard is taking care of its employees, its customers, and the world at large.
Why did legal transformation begin at the company?
Because of our ethos as a company, we want to be at the forefront of any cutting-edge technology or process transformation. So when our global General Counsel, Tim Murphy, stepped into the role a few years ago, he set up a legal operations team when it was still very nascent in the industry itself. He was someone who said, “We need to move into the new age.”
Our legal operations team is intentionally made of individuals who have come from other teams within the company and are experts in process improvement. Collectively, they know the DNA of the company. Any transformation requires change management and adoption, and Tim knew that.
What role do you think technology plays in legal transformation?
Business today wants things done yesterday, and the demands on law departments have multiplied. Given that, I think it would be foolish of the legal industry not to adopt technology. We’ve seen finance teams do it, and we’ve seen other organizations do it, but law as a profession has been quite slow to adopt technology.
“If we didn’t have Ironclad, could we extend a day to have 48 hours instead of 24 hours? Because that might be what we’d need. It would’ve been difficult without tools like Ironclad.”
But I think we will be seeing a lot more adoption of technology from corporate legal departments because they need to be able to go through contracts at lightning speed. You can no longer afford to have somebody manually sift through your agreements to understand the risks, whether it’s force majeure, indemnity or termination rights. Technology and tools are gaining more importance and adoption.
Speaking of technology, how can legal departments effectively prove value in the digital age?
In-house teams have morphed into something totally different today. They’re no longer just reviewing contracts.
All Mastercard lawyers have a seat at the table to do strategic work with their business partners—to not only discuss risk mitigation but also strategize on how to take risks thoughtfully to move business forward.
To prove the value of in-house legal, our job must go beyond advising the business partners “no, you cannot do this.” It’s about problem solving. It’s about finding the right solutions together so that you can advance the business.
“The support has been invaluable for us. We’re only a couple of months into rolling out Ironclad for NDAs, and… it has been incredible.”
Contract technology plays an important role because it frees up lawyers’ time to do more strategic work that drives business. So having good contract lifecycle management software and making legal processes more efficient is going to be absolutely critical.
What are some of the biggest challenges legal teams face today? How has your team been approaching them?
First and foremost, in-house teams are becoming busier. Given the crisis and all of the changes, there is a lot more contract review, negotiation, and pivoting into new areas. In addition, I think teams are looking to save on outside counsel spend, so more work is done in-house.
Another big thing that lawyers are realizing is they need better collaboration tools. They can no longer afford to keep going back and forth and negotiating on email. They need tools that can help them collaborate on agreements in real-time, whether that’s internally or with counterparties. We need to be efficient to be effective.
We’ve been lucky because we’ve already started bringing in technology and tools. Do we have more to do? Definitely. But we’ve started the journey.
Mastercard recently implemented Ironclad. What has using Ironclad been like, especially amidst these new challenges?
The first thing that comes to mind for me are the people. The team at Ironclad has been such collaborative, amazing partners. They really listen to what our problems are and are so proactive in helping us solve these new challenges. They’ve also been sharing industry knowledge with us and suggesting that we do things in X way rather than Y way, so we can improve and move into the future.
“For the legal team, if we didn’t have Ironclad’s tools, trackers, and workflows, we wouldn’t have seen such capacity freeing up for our lawyers and our business.”
The support has been invaluable for us. We’re only a couple of months into rolling out Ironclad for NDAs, and we have standardized and automated our templates, implemented e-signatures, and have an integrated end-to-end solution for our NDAs. It has been incredible.
What do you think the past months would have been like without Ironclad?
For the legal team, if we didn’t have Ironclad’s tools, trackers, and workflows, we wouldn’t have seen such capacity freeing up for our lawyers and our business. An effective legal team will be one that can show metrics, data, and insights on these improvements to its senior leadership, and demonstrate why technology is so crucial. And this is a perfect time to do it. I think any challenge has a silver lining.
If we didn’t have Ironclad, could we extend a day to have 48 hours instead of 24 hours? Because that might be what we’d need. It would’ve been difficult without tools like Ironclad.