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As the top legal honcho at Honeywell International Inc., General Counsel Peter Kreindler has won notice as one of the highest paid GCs in the nation. His staffers say he’s also a very assertive and demanding boss who usually gets his way. That being said, Kreindler’s pet project took a good four years to launch, which set the attorney up for quiet sniping and catty jokes around the Honeywell offices. That changed last March, when the Morristown, N.J.-based company rolled out a near encyclopedic legal services intranet. Employees can access contract forms, obtain basic legal advice, view Honeywell’s entire patent and trademark portfolio, receive compliance training, and perform many more legal-oriented tasks without the help of a live in-house lawyer. Since its launch, the intranet has proven to be extremely popular, with more than 3,000 employees visiting a month, a number that Andy Adkins, director of the Legal Technology Institute at the University of Florida, calls unusually large for a law department Web site. Since the intranet’s launch, Kreindler has been practically obsessive about it, preaching the tool’s capabilities to corporate clients as well as begging his staff to post as much content online as they can. The hope, says Kreindler, is to make his department more effective in the way it delivers legal assistance to its business clients. Honeywell, a $23 billion conglomerate that makes everything from aerospace products to building thermostats, has more than 100,000 employees, and yet just 100 lawyers. “We want to find ways to do more work with less people,” says Kreindler. “The idea is to take lawyers out of routine transactions.” The project began in fits and starts. Honeywell follows “Six Sigma,” an efficiency and quality method championed most notably by former General Electric Co. CEO Jack Welch. Six Sigma puts managers through intensive seminars, training them to use quantitative analysis to increase profitability, reduce costs and eliminate errors. Its devotees earn Shogun-style green, black, and master black belts as they gain proficiency. At Honeywell, virtually every manager has to be at least “green-belt certified,” meaning that these employees spend 10 days in training seminars and complete a big efficiency or cost-savings project. The Honeywell Law Web site was Kreindler’s green-belt project. But it lagged at first. Engineers in the IT department didn’t understand what Kreindler wanted, and many of Honeywell’s in-house lawyers were lukewarm about technology they barely understood. They weren’t alone: According to Corporate Counsel‘s 2003 Technology Survey, just 41 percent of company law departments electronically catalog their work product. And according to Adkins, most online knowledge management tools developed by legal departments are lackluster affairs, used more by the lawyers themselves than the clients. As the intranet continued to languish, Kreindler, 58, found himself in an awkward position: He was a top-five officer at the company, a highly connected lawyer who commanded more than $4.5 million in annual salary, bonus, and restricted stock who had once served as counsel to the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. Yet unlike most Honeywell executives, he didn’t have his green belt. So in 2002 Kreindler recruited James King, an IT engineer who had previously built the legal intranet for Compaq, which merged with the Hewlett-Packard Company, to be “director of digital works.” For the next year, the two sent out surveys, querying Honeywell lawyers for the information most frequently requested by employees, and asking the lawyers to solicit suggestions from the clients. Unlike most other companies, lawyers at Honeywell don’t sit together, but are, in the words of Honeywell lawyers, “married” to the business units they serve. Attorneys and managers on the business side aren’t shy about speaking to each other, and lawyers are expected to contribute in business planning meetings. When it came time to solicit opinions for the legal intranet, Honeywell lawyer Elizabeth Stairs says, there were no shortage of volunteers. By February 2003 the intranet was ready for launch. Flyers were handed out to workers. During CEO David Cote’s monthly Webcast “town hall” chats to employees, he spoke in front of a backdrop that advertised the new intranet. Posters appeared at Honeywell’s offices in 100 countries, with Kreindler’s face on them and the slogan “Welcome to My Honeywell.” The response was immediate. Between February and September, the intranet had 88,500 hits and 22,000 unique visitors (more than a fifth of Honeywell’s employees). Eighty percent of visitors returned for more information. Kreindler says it is hard to estimate how much money the system has saved Honeywell; he says its biggest effect has been on the company’s productivity. The GC also declined to say how much the intranet cost to build. But he says the system has met the primary goal of making his department more efficient. His staff no longer receive calls and requests for routine information at odd hours. And Webmaster King notes that in the patent area, which contains Honeywell’s entire portfolio of 5,000 registered patents, invention disclosures (the first step in the patent application process) are up 163 percent from 2002 to 2003. He adds that the “patent gallery” is the first of its kind anywhere, and is a popular online haunt among company engineers. Kreindler finally earned that green belt. And he’s already planning his next project: an intranet just for the legal department. Why did he build one for the clients first? “That’s the way we do things here,” he says. “We’re not like everyone else.”

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