Is Tech actually making Legal better? 5 top law departments speak out

In his essay ( Lawyers and Technology: Frenemies or Collaborators?) lawyer and journalist, Mark Cohen, shows how technology is transforming every sector of the legal profession. Yet in a traditional profession, tech is not always warmly embraced. Cohen points to the fear that technological advance is playing its part in ending”lawyer hegemony of legal delivery” and is debunking “industry myths including that all work performed by lawyers is bespoke”.  So do those adopting technology in law departments feel the tech-fueled world is a better or a worse time to be working in the legal profession, and what are the challenges it brings?

Vicky Lockie, Senior Consultant VBL Consulting, and formerly Associate GC at Pearson

Vicky Lockie is formerly Associate General Counsel at Pearson where she oversaw  change in the legal department including widespread tech adoption

“It depends on your perspective. For those who relish change, I think in-house counsel have an unparalleled opportunity to learn new skills and embrace new ways of working but it’s not for the faint-hearted.

“I see the increase in automation as a real opportunity for the profession to move away from the routine to focus on intellectually challenging and strategically important work. However, as this will involve a major shift in the way in which our work is rewarded – shifting from output-based (the billable hour) to outcome-based reward I can see how many will see this as a threat they don’t want to embrace.”

Roberto Facundus, General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer at Tongal

Roberto Facundus implemented automation of certain documents at Tongal, including release, publicity rights, and licensing forms.

“I think it’s better.  It is certainly a benefit that we have more tools at our disposal than ever before.  That said, LegalTech is still relatively nascent so we need people to innovate, experiment, and try new technologies that will make us better as a profession.

“This doesn’t mean you have to be an early adopter, but you should at least be an early observer.  I think you’re doing a disservice to you and your company if you are not paying attention.”

 

Alex Butterworth, Senior Legal Counsel at McDonald’s Australia 

Alex Butterworth has implemented a wide range of innovation including digital signature and cloud document management.

“It is only getting better. Today, you actually get to do commercial work, not just doing legal work. The less time you spend on rudimentary legal work the more time you have for commercial, strategic matters. People in businesses are recognizing that people who become lawyers are switched on and can apply their thinking and hard work to a whole range of business problems, not just legal problems.”

Connie Brenton,  Director of Legal Operations, NetApp, and President of the Corporate Legal Operations 

Connie Brenton and NetApp started with three in-house legal technologies seven years ago, and now leverage 17.

“It is such an exciting time to be working in a legal department. Every day is different and exciting. There are endless opportunities and different ways of working than there were just a couple of years ago.”

Chris Newby, General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer at AIG EMEA

Chris Newby uses technology to automate mundane legal tasks ensuring his team of 70 lawyers achieves greater satisfaction and career progression.

 

“I think it’s a good time. Historically a question that a lot of companies struggle with is if you have to explain your operational legal risk to your Board or to your CEO, that is a pretty tricky question.

“Technology enables you to, firstly, get the data, but also enables you to automate, and better capture your legal risks. So you do not have to have members of your legal team doing administrative tasks. Technology is also getting cheaper. If you go back five years, purchasing a sophisticated document management system was a big investment, now there is a lot of competition in that space making technology, including legal technology, within the reach of smaller companies.”

The experiences of Pearson, McDonald’s, NetApp, Tongal and AIG are among the 80 law departments featured in the recently-published free In-House Counsel’s LeglalTech Buyer’s Guide 2018.

  • 130+ top technology solutions, recommended by the world’s leading legal departments
  • The definitive step-by-step guide on buying legal tech from Lucy Bassli, former Assistant General Counsel at Microsoft
  • First-person accounts from law departments including Facebook, Google, NetApp, McDonald’s, AIG, Twitter, Barclays, PepsiCo, Walmart, Kellogg’s, Microsoft, Uber, and many more
  • In-depth analysis of leading players in 16 categories of legal technology, including Contract Drafting, Contract Management, eDiscovery, Legal Research, Communications, matter management, e-Discovery, and Digital Signature.
  • Jargon-free explanation of legal “buzzwords” — including artificial intelligence, legal operations, blockchain, and the cloud.
  • Learn from other experts’ experiences and keep this buyer’s guide handy to help you navigate the latest legal tech products.
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