5 things in LegalTech: The Elon Musk of Legal & Must-read thoughts from a top legal department

Your time is short. This quick read  gives you 5 things you need to know from LegalTech in the past seven days.

1.

LegalTech Interview of the week: The Elon Musk of Legal

Since making headlines with his DoNotPay chatbot (contesting more than $9.6 million in parking tickets), tech entrepreneur, 21-year-old, Joshua Browder has been busy. Originally from London, and now studying at Stanford University, Browder – who designed apps from a young age – is not letting up on a mission to end the access to justice gap through the use of technology. His next causes, he reveals, are immigration, divorce, and consumer rights.

On a break from Stanford, he met fellow North London boy, Artificial Lawyer’s Richard Tromans. The interview comes after Browder secured $1.1 in funding from top VCs Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, and lawyers from Wilson Sonsini. Browder says: “Elon Musk has driverless cars and is sending rockets to mars. It seems possible that we can solve a few legal problems that are really just decision trees, and quite easy to solve.”

See also Legal Futures: Chatbot entrepreneur predicts automated legal future (Dan Bindman) interviews Browder, who says that up to 70% of the law can be carried out by robots, and all legal documents will be automated within a decade.

See also Meet Larissa, the Divorce Bot You Can Talk To

2.

Must-read LegalTech thoughts from a top legal department

Nitin Batra, global chief operating officer in Citigroup’s Office of the General Counsel, talks about the future of LegalTech in a wide-ranging video interview with Bloomberg Law. Batra runs one of the largest legal departments in the world. He talks about four “buckets” in the world of LegalTech. These are 1) contract lifecycle management-now pretty sophisticated 2) “dealtech” (including “blockchain” and currently at the “promise” stage) 3) “big data and AI” and 4) rapid changes in legal operations.

Speaking of his company’s adoption of LegalTech, Batra says: “If you look at the financial services institutions that have been doing eBilling for a decade, with hundreds of millions of transactions having gone through it, that is a wealth of data that if we can put some intelligence around we can gain valuable insights and better decision-making capabilities.”

 

3

Law Schools must innovate, says the FT

Jonathan Moules in the Financial Times writes that Law schools must innovate to stay competitive. The piece says student admissions have been dropping in the US since 2010 at a rate not seen since the early 1970s, and law schools have been forced to innovate to attract applications. Daniel Rodriguez, dean of the Northwestern School of Law, quoted in the piece, says: “Clients increasingly expect their lawyers to be fully conversant with modern business practices.”

One solution to ensuring greater benchmarking of law school success on this front, comes from Daniel W. Linna Jr. who has created an “innovation” index for law schools. Linna spoke to Ed Sohn at Above the Law about the challenge and outlined his vision.

Read also Legal IT Insider: Where are all the LegalTech incubators Mitchell Kowalski, Professor in Legal Innovation at the University of Calgary Law School,

Read also: WSJ The Rise and Fall of a Law School Empire Fueled by Federal Loans

 

4.

The world’s first law firm “without lawyers”

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported  that the people of Darwin can just about take the law into their own hands, with a new legal firm going “lawyer-free”.Cartland Law announced its launch of  Ailira (Artificially Intelligent Legal Information Resource Assistant)   located in Coolalinga Shopping Centre, south of Darwin. The company explains the office is set up in the style of a traditional legal office. “However when clients sit down, instead of having a lawyer opposite them, there is a screen, upon which is Ailira. The clients can then chat with Ailira about the legal information that they would like help with.”

The hybrid model also sees (human)lawyers on hand for when clients require legal advice.

The robots developer, tax lawyer Adrian Cartland says Ailira, is helping rural communities who need it most, providing everything from wills (around $115 per will) to business structuring, and asset protection. Cartland describes his motivation for providing automated and cheaper services, saying “people who really need access to justice are the people who can least afford it.”  Legal Technology News reported that Ailira  has also been granted funding from the Australian government to develop a prototype to help domestic violence victims with legal advice, which is in development. 

5.

Legaltech due diligence for investors

Zirra, a financial platform providing investors with detailed information, now includes legal intelligence as part of its offering.  In “Think Again Before Investing in This Company: How to Detect Legal Issues with NLP”, Assaf Gilad, marketing manager at Zirra says: “Investors shouldn’t be afraid of legal issues before jumping into a new investment. However, it’s important they’re aware of these issues as early as possible, much earlier than the due diligence process. This is where AI and NLP technology can help with insights based on continuous monitoring of companies’ behavior and performance on the web.” The platform now provides “Instant Legal Alerts for entrepreneurs and investors to learn about a possible legal quarrel from the world wide web”, using examples from Magic Leap, SpaceX, Stitch Fix, and SoFi to show this analysis in practice.

Subscribe to our mailing list (right, or below on mobile) to receive this digest directly your inbox each week 

LegalTech Diary upcoming events

29 November: Webinar: 5 Steps to Implement a Contract Triage Process (LawGeex)

29-30 November: Legal Week Connect, London (Legal Week)

21 December: Save The Date! Christmas Drinks for Legal & Tech Professionals (London)

The Blurb: A curated mix of articles worth sharing in the past week. 

Artificial Lawyer: Start-Up PartnerVine + PwC to Sell Automated Legal Contracts

John Fallon: CEO Pearson: You’re Not Alone if You Think We Can Work with the Robots

Above the Law: From Biglaw To Legal Tech Startup: A Conversation With Logikcull’s Alexander Su

Above the Law: Biglaw Firm Brings On Technology Development Ninjas

Jake Heller (CaseText) Above the Law: Push Research: How AI Is Fundamentally Changing The Way We Research The Law

IP Leaders: Five Leaders of Silicon Valley Who Excelled at Contract Negotiation

 

 

 

5 things in LegalTech: CLOC Data Addiction and What is a Lawyer?

Your time is short. This quick read gives you 5 things you need to know from LegalTech in the past seven days.

1

CLOC delivers data on legal spend

The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) aims to be data-first in reshaping the legal industry.  CLOC’s 2017 State of The Industry Survey released last week (based on a survey of 158 corporations across 11 countries), does not disappoint. The treasure trove of data reveals that legal spend is between 0.55% to 1.24% as a percentage of a corporation’s revenue. When it comes to legal spend, 62 cents of every $1 goes towards external legal costs (biotech companies spend the most). There is a 27:1 attorney-to-legal-operations professional ratio in companies. In a deep dive into legal tech buying, 83% of companies use an eBilling system and five vendors dominate this market (Thomson Reuters Legal Tracker, 34%; Mitratech Collaborati TeamConnect, 13.5%; T360 TyMetrix 9%; Lexis Nexis Counsel Link,7.7%; SimpleLegal, 5.8%). Nearly half of all companies surveyed have no contract management system, but the most popular provider is Apttus (10.3%), followed by Ariba (7.7%)

Read also:

Gabrielle Orum Hernandez’s take in Legaltech  News Legal Ops Teams, You May Have More Power to Shape E-Billing Than You Think 

Rhys Dipshan, LegalTech News: Despite Nascent Market, Need and Flexibility Drive Contract Management Adoption 

 

2

Deal of the week: AbacusNext acquires HotDocs

Zach Warren in Legaltech News describes the acquisition of document automation company HotDocs by private equity-backed tech house AbacusNext. “The acquisition, for which financial details have not been announced, allows AbacusNext to integrate HotDocs’ software into its own offerings, allowing for generation of customized documents such as contracts, sales agreements, government forms and loan documentation. HotDocs currently boasts a user base of more than one million customers in 60 countries. The deal also includes HotDocs’ online marketplace for document templates, HotDocs Market.” HotDocs was chosen by GCs for inclusion in LawGeex In-House Counsel’s LegalTech Buyers Guide 2017 as a top software for contract drafting. Clients include HSBC Singapore who use it to generate facility letters for its corporate customers, while The U.S. Department of Justice uses HotDocs across its 94 offices primarily for litigation paperwork. Legal IT Insider says “AbacusNext, which is majority owned by Rhode Island-headquartered private equity house Providence Equity Partners, has a combined user base of 1.5m worldwide and promises a compliance-ready suite of technology solutions designed to cloud-enable desktop, mobile and SaaS applications in a single sign-on, secured and fully managed environment.” It has left legal commentators wondering whether this points to further LegalTech consolidation?

 

3

The big questions: What is a lawyer?

Never one to shy away from big questions, Mark Cohen in Forbes asks What’s A Lawyer Now? For a profession-that like to define terms – it is increasingly difficult to answer as tech and assumptions are in flux. “Just knowing the law’ does not cut it”, says Cohen, and the old-school law firm model –“brute force, labor intensive economic model, pursuit of perfection and lots of billed hours” -is giving way to “other professionals and para-professionals-not to mention machines”. The good news: lawyers sticking to empathy, persuasion and judgement are definitely part of the answer.

The big question 2: What is the future of AI and the law?

Much is written about the advance of AI and how this will affect the professions. Professor Richard Susskind, author of Tomorrow’s Lawyer, was invited last week to give evidence to the UK’s House of Lords as they debate the challenges for AI and policy makers. For a snapshot of his evidence (covering the pace of change, impact on society, and ethics of AI) see here.

 

4.

Legal innovators of the week: Microsoft, Lyft, AIG

Dervish Tayyip, assistant GC at Microsoft, provides an insight into transformative technological innovation and its impact on the in-house legal & compliance community  after two major events: The Economist General Counsel 2017  and The Corporate Counsel Forum Europe 2017. Tayyip says: “I was struck by the extent to which the senior European in-house lawyers and compliance professionals in attendance were both very excited by the opportunities presented but also anxious about how they would manage the risks, not to mention the implications for their jobs.”

He argues that senior in-house lawyers are ideally positioned to influence both the direction of the strategy their business. He says: “I’m not just referring to in-house lawyers’ immense purchasing power. It’s also the fact that it is the very organizations in which their departments sit that have access to the valuable data that will power the move from traditional sustaining technologies on which lawyers have hitherto relied.”

Also for innovation, read from last week:

LawGeex Tales of LegalTech adoption: Chris Newby AIG

The Recorder: Legal Departments of the Year: Lyft 

5.

LegalTech profile of the week: meet Lara (from Legal.io)

Legal.io launches LARA, a machine-learning powered interface that pulls from millions of data-points across the entire Legal.io network. Pieter Guns,  the Co-founder and President of Legal.io,  founded at Stanford University, says Lara’s first legal skill  is  non-disclosure agreements. “Instead of Avvo telling attorneys what to charge for an NDA, our platform collects thousands of legal data points and collates that information in a single location. Further, it’s more than just another chatbot or document generator. It gives the client a direct way to connect with a trusted attorney or local bar association lawyer referral service.”

 

Subscribe to our mailing list (right) to receive this digest directly your inbox each week. 

LegalTech Diary upcoming events 

29 November: Webinar5 Steps to Implement a Contract Triage Process (LawGeex) 

29-30 November: Legal Week Connect, London (Legal Week)

21 December: Save The Date! Christmas Drinks For Legal & Tech Professionals (London)

The Blurb: A curated mix of articles worth sharing in the past week.

From LawGeex

Tales of LegalTech adoption: Chris Newby AIG

From other sites: 

Law.com:  For Better Code, GitLab’s Lawyers Try Ditching the Legalese

Ross Intelligence: AI Pioneer Randy Goebel joins ROSS Intelligence

Lex Machina Adds Analytics for Product Liability Litigation

Allen & Overy Expands Legal App Subscription Business With Neota Logic

Bloomberg: Smart Contracts are still way too dumb

Tales of LegalTech Adoption: Chris Newby, General Counsel at AIG

LawGeez_socialmedia_Twitter_2 (002)In a series of monthly interviews, LawGeex speaks to top In-House Counsel adopting legal technology to enhance productivity. Here, we speak to Chris Newby, General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer at AIG EMEA

Chris Newby, General, AIG EMEA

How is AIG’s in-house team organized? Size and reporting function?

I have 70 lawyers in EMEA. I am based in London acting as General Counsel for EMEA. We also have a legal operations center headquartered in Europe, which helps with panel management, billing and eDiscovery.

What are the biggest challenges you face as an in-house team? 

Career progression is probably one of the hardest thing to achieve for people. In fact, one of the ways we are trying to use technology is trying to automate the more mundane legal tasks, with a view to focusing the team on more sophisticated work. We have large volumes of work, so a challenge is clearing lower level work, enabling us to focus on more strategic work.

Founded in 1919, AIG is a leading insurance company serving clients in 80+ countries & jurisdictions

We use DocuSign for our automatic signature system and have eBilling. Following a successful pilot, we also have automated NDA process, which we recently further adopted across each country. In addition, we built our own in-house workflow tool to better understand what our lawyers are working on and allocate matters to lawyers. Though we have a document management system, we are looking at a new solution for the legal team.

We also have a legal center in Manila where company queries go automatically, helping to automate this process.


What problems and pain points were you trying to solve with tech adoption?

The workflow tool which was built in-house was designed to solve a problem of understanding what everyone is working on, and the volume of work coming through to different areas in legal. This enabled us to effectively clear out the noise and focus on the more sophisticated legal issues.

What results have you seen through the adoption of LegalTech?

In the UK, 60-70 confidentiality agreements are automated weekly. This essentially frees up a junior lawyers’ entire week. The workflow system provides valuable data such as which department uses legal the most. Incidentally Financial Lines, and our consumer unit are the business lines which relies on legal the most!Over 24 months, our approach has enabled us to save around 15-20% of lawyer’s time, which we have then reinvested.

Over 24 months, our approach has enabled us to save around 15-20% of lawyer’s time, which we have then reinvested.

Our lawyers now have more time to do the things they want to.

What processes or improvements are you looking to enhance using tech in the future?

If you look from an insurance perspective, if you can automate more around the insurance policy, and the contractual construction of the agreement that is a big win.

In addition, I think there is a lot you can do with technology around understanding your legal risk.  If you are worried about a certain term, a good document management system can automatically show how many contracts have that specific wording in it.

Overall, explaining to your board where you are with your legal operational risk is one of the biggest wins you can get from technology. You can track the data with a lot more precision, and can map volume. At some point, you have to look at ways of not reducing your headcount, but keeping your current costs stable. Technology helps to bring those costs down.

What is the main advice you would give any in-house counsel about the challenges/ opportunities or obstacles in a legal tech buying journey?

Generally, the way lawyers work is never easy. They are quite ingrained in the way they are trained and so getting them to take a holistic view of change can be tricky. But I think you have to force this holistic view. There are better ways of working, and you need to sell the positives of it, and that there will be benefits in the longer term.

I think it is easier if you have a bigger team, as you have to go through a data gathering period which puts an extra burden on your legal team. Until you get to data, to show your CFO or CEO that you can apply technology to a certain volume of work, then you won’t have something substantial to build a case. For most lawyers that will be a burden on them because it is not part of their daily schedule. Yet there is a need to take this step, which could just mean building a simple excel spreadsheet or just get people to capture more information.

There is also a lot technology out there. It is hard for a GC with a limited budget to say with confidence “I want to buy X’.  For a lot of lawyers, they are not necessarily from a tech background and have concerns that if they buy it, it won’t do everything you want from it. In particular, if you hang your hat on a business case and it turns out not to be exactly as you expected it can be very expensive. I think that there is a hump that lawyers are trying to get over right now: when I look at the market what do I buy?

I think that there is a hump that lawyers are trying to get over right now: when I look at the market what do I buy?

Did tech adoption mean a reduction in staff?

Not at all. If you are trying to get people to buy into technology, I think it is important to remove the myth that computers and automation will replace workers. It is important to combine technology and people to get better outcomes. It should be seen as a way of achieving some cost reduction. In other areas, it is keeping costs stable.

Should lawyers be worried about automation or rise of technology?

I am not sure they should be worried, but lawyers, whether they are in private practice or in-house, have to embrace technology as a way of improving the service they provide. I also believe that it is necessary to attract the best talent. If you can take out all the mundane in the work, making the daily diet of legal work is more sophisticated, you look like a more attractive proposition than not having a way of getting through the churn.  As a GC, you can choose outsourcing the boring work at a heavy cost; use technology; or you have to do it yourself, which means your lawyers get bored because there is no variety.

Is today’s tech age, a better or worse time to be an in-house counsel?

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.

Chris is among the top in-house counsel featured in The In-House Counsel’s LegalTech Buyers Guide.

Download the full guide now to see the best LegalTech for in-house lawyers today including more tools for contract drafting; contract review; digital signature; contract and matter management; contract due diligence; legal research; eDiscovery; Prediction technology; Intellectual Property; Expertise automation; eBilling; Legal analytics; simple task management; and Communications.

Get the FREE Legal Technology Buyer’s Guide for In-House Counsel and discover:

  • 60+ page practical and jargon-free reference guide
  • 100+ top technology solutions for legal departments
  • Personal recommendations and stories from dozens of in-house lawyers and legal experts
  • Explanations of an in-house legaltech buying journey, including barriers to adoption, establishing and monitoring KPIs, and more

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5 things in LegalTech: How lawyers celebrated #STEMDay?

Your time is short. This quick read gives you 5 things you need to know from LegalTech in the past seven days.

1

Happy #STEM Day to lawyers

On November 8 the world celebrated National S.T.E.M Day. With occupations related to S.T.E.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) expected to grow 70 percent faster than other professions, lawyers embraced the day. There was a special session to recruit STEM graduates to a legal profession which is (slowly) embracing tech, data and science as part of its present and future. In a London session, “Why STEM students make great lawyers?”  STEM-graduates-turned-lawyers from Allen & Overy, LexisNexis, Bristows, and Reed Smith spoke about their journey.  Virginia Jones  converted to law after completing a civil engineering degree , ultimately qualifying in commercial dispute resolution.  Gemma Barrett, now a partner and IP specialist at Bristows, graduated  from Oxford with a Master’s in biochemistry before making the switch. Barrett argues her background provides a powerful advantage in day-to-day work advising the world’s leading life sciences and technology companies.

 

Other STEM-turned Law graduates posted about the benefits of law, after making the jump, including Euan Alston, who is set to become a trainee solicitor at CMS UK but started out as a biomedical sciences graduate.

 

2

Do lawyers need math?

On a related theme, lawyers took to Quora this week to answer definitively whether you can be a lawyer if you are not good at math? The consensus is that, even as tech makes greater inroads, math is not a prerequisite.  Isaac Fischer, Certified Family Law Specialist said: “Oh, HECK YEA. Most of my colleagues are not particularly good at math. Some are horrible at it actually. Actually, as I was growing up, I told anyone who would listen, ‘I don’t need to learn this [math]. I’ll never use it’. No one really listened.” Suzanne Kiera Anthony, former Trial Attorney, added it is unnecessary unless “you want to practice in an area that requires math skill, like tax law.”

But over on Twitter, attorney and Law Professor, Daniel W. Linna Jr, at a legal workshop on Blockchain, quoted a session with Pamela Morgan, an attorney, educator, entrepreneur, and public speaker, who advises on crypto-holdings. The takeaway from the talk: “For people who say ‘I don’t like math’ my advice is get comfortable”.

 

 

3

One legal-survey-message rules them all

Several surveys on the issue of tech and innovation (or lack of it) came out.The Exterro 2017 In-House Legal Benchmarking Report  set the scene: 51% of in-house legal teams report that more than half of their legal activities are now conducted internally requiring better use of innovation and technology.

Nevertheless, Legal Week and Georgina Stanley reported that the Smith & Williamson’s annual law firm survey shows more than half of law firm respondents pinpoint the adoption of new technology as one of the biggest challenges (along with talent retention).

Innovation was also the buzzword at the Lawyer’s In-house Counsel as Business Partner Conference in London. “Many firms are branding themselves as innovation leaders, but a survey of the over 100 in-house attendees at the conference showed that roughly 70 per cent weren’t sure what technology solutions their panel firms were using.”

Things that are not helping 1) “Law Firm BS”. Casey Flaherty, a legal operations consultant who advises lawyers on tech writes in his blog:“In the context of an RFI, don’t talk to me about ROSS (legal AI research), or anything else, unless you can connect it to a concrete benefit for the client. ”

Things that are not helping 2) Staci Zaretsky in Above The Law reports on a new initiative to help prevent women leaving the law. Per, the ABA, women over 50 now make up only 27 percent of lawyers at firms.

 

 

4.

eDiscovery tech for in-house lawyers

LegalTech News reported that the state of tech in eDiscovery is laid bare in a new report. It asked what are the buying habits of GCs and corporate attorneys choosing eDiscovery solutions? 72 percent, said they purchased e-discovery technology or services on an “as-needed” rolling basis, while 28 percent purchased it annually.  Only 19 percent also said they have a global platform they use for most matters, while 50 percent said they have different technology and services for each matter. Their biggest e-Discovery challenge? 42 percent of respondents cited managing the overall costs of e-discovery or keeping within budget, while 36 percent struggled either with managing the volume of e-Discovery data or integration with other legal systems.

 

5.

LegalTech interview of the week: Intraspexion

It is only natural that in our STEM-based edition we feature this CODEX interview with  Nick Brestoff, 69, the founder and CEO of Intraspexion offering “Preventive Law with AI”. Brestoff is an engineer-turned-lawyer whose company is addressing the painful problem that bedevils corporate legal departments: the frequency and cost of litigation. “Intraspexion provides an early warning of specific types of possible litigation to in-house legal staff”. His advice to other tech entrepreneurs: “Find the pain to address first. Find the return on investment for your vision. Then, have the courage to fight off the depressing occasions.”

Subscribe to our mailing list (right) to receive this digest directly your inbox each week. 

LegalTech Diary upcoming events 

14 November:  WebinarEmerging Trends and Legal Analytics for Product Liability (Lex Machina) 14 November 2017

29 November: Webinar5 Steps to Implement a Contract Triage Process (LawGeex) 

29-30 November: Legal Week Connect, London (Legal Week)

21 December: Save The Date! Christmas Drinks For Legal & Tech Professionals (London)

The Blurb: A curated mix of articles worth sharing in the past week.

From LawGeex

IACCM Journal: Want to improve your contracting processes? Put technology to work!

From other sites: 

Claims News: Keoghs unveils AI insurance lawyer

Law Sites: NextChapter Unveils Its Next Chapter: A Portal For Bankruptcy Debtors

Law Sites: A Closer Look at Clio’s Revamped Practice Management Platform 

Artificial Lawyer: Mexico’s Laboralisto Paves Way To Labour Law Predictive Capability

5 things in LegalTech: AI and the Law and Love your Lawyer Day

Your time is short. This quick read  gives you 5 things you need to know from LegalTech in the past seven days.

1

Conferences: AI & Law

There was reflection on the state of AI in Law at two conferences. At the College of Law Practice Management’s (COLPM) Futures Conference, “Running With the Machines, Mark Tamminga, Gowling Partner and leader of the firm’s innovation, says: “While a number of use cases are apparent (e-discovery, due diligence, research, advice bots), we have barely scratched the surface.” The advice from the conference boiled down to having someone internal to “know this stuff”; talk to vendors; read and keep up to date.

Also attending the event was legal technology journalist Bob Ambrogi. He says that there has been resistance to AI solutions and over-hype of their capabilities. But “in fact, the dirty little secret of AI is that it can make us even better lawyers than we are without it.”

These sentiments were reflected in London at the Legal AI Forum. The conference heard that AI is crucial to the “very survival” of law firms. Law firms themselves argued that the main challenge is “not a tech” one but a need to change lawyer mindset, and agreed that AI will bring further commoditization of law, reducing prices.

2

Machines Took on the law…

Credit to the bright young team at Case Crunch as their predictive algorithms and modelling of legal issues came out on top in a test against lawyers, scoring almost 87% accuracy when predicting the success or failure of Payment Protection Insurance (PPI)  claims. This compared to 62% for lawyers in the challenge. The 112 lawyers who participated were presented with factual scenarios of PPI mis-selling claims, and asked to predict “yes or no” as to whether the Financial Ombudsman would succeed in the claim. BBC journalist Rory Cellan-Jones called it “a triumph then for a tiny start-up business. For Case Cruncher is not the product of a tech giant but the brainchild of four Cambridge law students.”

Lawyer, Brian Inkster of the TimeBlawg, says the fact the lawyers were not PPI specialists means the experiment is not “like Deep Blue beating Garry Kasparov at chess”. Nevertheless, Ian Dodd, managing director of legal analytics platform, Premonition, predicted that the experiment points to a future with more strategic work for lawyers: “The knowledge jobs will go; the wisdom jobs will stay.”

3

Funding for Donotpay founder

The Times reports that 21-year-old British creator of a robot lawyer has raised $1.1m (£840,000) from Silicon Valley.

“Joshua Browder developed donotpay.com, a bot that automatically challenges parking tickets, while still at school in London. Now a student at Stanford University in California, he last week secured the cash in a funding round led by the prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Other participants included Greylock Partners, where the LinkedIn billionaire Reid Hoffman is among the investors, and partners from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, one of the tech industry’s top law firms.” Browder also developed a chatbot that can now help you sue Equifax in small claims court, potentially letting you avoid hiring a lawyer for advice.

4.

Love your Lawyer Day

In case you missed it, 3 November was Love Your Lawyer Day and lawyers got shout-outs across social media. Legal marketer Nader Anise founded the day (the first Friday each November) to highlight the good things that lawyers do.

https://twitter.com/theflabar/status/926093188074491905

Many got in on the day,  praising the work of lawyers.

5.

Law School Innovation – no hiding place

A new Law School Innovation Index begun by attorney and Law Professor, Daniel W. Linna Jr, aims to provide a measure of law school innovation. He found  that Chicago-Kent College of Law and Michigan State University College of Law are at the top of the list. Meanwhile in the same week, Suffollk Law School launched an online certificate in Legal Innovation and Technology. One of the instructors, Lucy Bassli, assistant general counsel of Microsoft, will teach Legal Operations. She says: “Our jobs will not look the same ten years from now. Technology advancements for legal services are ripe, and attorneys need to pay attention.”

Meanwhile Northwestern Law and ROSS Intelligence partnered to address access to justice through AI.

Subscribe to our mailing list (right) to receive this digest directly your inbox each week 

The Blurb: A curated mix of articles worth sharing in the past week.

From LawGeex

LawGeex: 7 surefire steps to end contract gridlock in your business

Hackernoon: How Salesforce is poised to bring legal and sales together

From other sites

BostonMix: When Algorithms Replace Post-Its: Artificial Intelligence Is Rewiring The Job Of A Lawyer

Artificial Lawyer: Legal AI’s Dark Horse, Eigen Technologies, Comes Into The Light

CNN: After Harvey Weinstein, contracts that keep employees quiet are under scrutiny

NextWeb: Blockchain courts will offer effective dispute resolution in smart contracts

Hackernoon: How to Deal with Lawyers

 

7 surefire steps to end contract gridlock in your business

gridlock pic

In the words of Harvard professors, Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani, the contract process now represents “a rush-hour gridlock trapping a Formula 1 race car”. The International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM) has found that 83% of businesses  are dissatisfied with their organization’s contracting process. The time spent on reviewing paperwork sees hard-pressed in-house lawyers blamed for contract gridlock, and, in the worst cases, the death of deals.

The problem: Too many contracts – and they are growing 

The typical Fortune 1000 company maintains 20,000 to 40,000 active contracts. Even a simple standard non-disclosure agreement takes companies a week or longer to approve.  Woodrow Jones, in the in-house legal team at Verizon, sums up the contracting chaos which led his team to a $12 million contract purge: Contracting had been a challenge for years. Complexity had crept in, and costs increased with the complexity of the content and the length of the process”, he says.

7 Steps to End Contract Review Gridlock

Here we present ‘7 Steps to End Contract Gridlock’ based on those who have been there and changed their processes.

Step 1. Take a step back: (Or recognize your contract problem)

Yoga GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY

Lucy Endel Bassli, Assistant General Counsel, Legal Operations and Contracting at Microsoft, in a must-read paper on contracting for today’s lawyers, advises in-house teams to take stock of who is doing the legal work– reviewing, editing and negotiating contracts. This was the start of a major overhaul of contract review and approval times. Bassli advises “Someone needs to track how many contracts are done and how long they take.”

Microsoft began by asking the right questions. This simple starting point leads to honest discussions. Nancy Brooks, vice president and deputy general counsel at Discover Financial Services began her  change program asking the simple question: “Is someone doing legal work outside the law department?” That simple question  prompted Brooks to begin a two-year transformation of the company’s contract management processes, creating productivity improvements of 20 percent on a volume of 6,000 contracts in its first year of implementation.

Step 2. Carry out contract pest control 

mouse

There may be high value, low volume contracts (think IPOs or big deals) which will rightly need manpower and lawyers to pour over them. However, in an age of automation, reviewing and approving everyday low-value contracts is not something lawyers need to waste expertise on (the top five most popular contracts run through LawGeex’s review automation each day are NDAs, service agreements, SaaS agreements, software Licenses and Purchase Order Contracts). In the words of one in-house counsel we spoke to, low value high volume contract approvals are “mice” and “rats” they want to get off their plates. This is allowing their team to focus on more strategic work.

Using more refined terminology, Avis Budget, led by General Counsel Michael Tucker, talks of “disaggregation” in their contract approval process. They have three tiers of contract: “Cream” high legal and financial exposure, with relatively low volume and frequency; “Core” medium to high legal and financial exposure, with significant volume and “Commodity” low to medium legal and financial exposure with high volume and frequency.”

Step 3. Contract Triage 

In medical terms, triage is the allocation of treatment to patients, according to a system of priorities and resources. When it comes to a growing volume of contracts, lawyers are taking the same approach.  Artificial Intelligence can now pre-check contracts automatically based on a company’s “playbook” (see step 4). Conversely, this playbook-AI combination ensures problematic clauses are flagged and dispatched to lawyers for treatment (reviewing the  issues found). On basic contracts companies employing this automated triage are seeing lawyers cutting workload between 40 to 80% depending on the contract.

Step 4. Playbook Legal Magic 

Consistency and reduced risk is achieved through the creation of Playbooks. That is, the defining and recording of a company’s legal policies, manually or using technology. Express Scripts describes the creation of their playbook as the “crown jewel” of its legal change transformation. In the words of Chris Smith, of Husch Blackwell, who helped the company with this process, a playbook now enables Express Scripts to clearly demonstrate “substantive resources on legal themes, references, statutes, and case law.” Despite this fundamental stage, only 23% of legal departments have a  Playbook of any type, while 54% of those that do, use hard copies located in binders. Having Playbooks stored physically, separate from the contract review process that they are meant to guide, reduces the effectiveness of these important documents. Online Playbooks, like those within the LawGeex platform, allow for fast set-up, editing and ‘as you review’ instant reference to company’s sample clause language, fallback positions, and clause policies.

Step 5: Set contract targets 

Despite the central role of contracts, most companies do not have milestones in place, such as KPIs or monitoring of turnaround times. When contract management solution, Apptus asked legal departments how they measure contract turnaround times 60% answered simply: “We don’t”.  Simple contract targets could be linked to turnaround time and the satisfaction of the business.

Source: Apttus GC Technology Report

Step 6. End the Contract Bottleneck  

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The biggest frustration (and complaint) sales and procurement teams have is contract gridlock or “bottlenecks”. Research shows 72% of in-house teams admit the need to implement faster contract turnaround times.

Writing to the Lawyer Whisperer , Julie Q Brush, (“The Dear Abby for Lawyers”) one lawyer says: “My company execs don’t respect Legal. Some believe we are a bottleneck to getting deals done and their critical comments have adversely impacted my team. How do I fix this? The advice (Rule 1): “Your first step in this process is to get to the bottom of what is going on. “How long does it take to move a deal through Legal from start to finish? What are the current expectations? Then with more data, create a solution and actively manage the changes.” (see steps 2-7)”

In the case of Microsoft, Bassli says: “We’re now a valuable partner to our business team, because they don’t see us as a blocker any longer. They see us as a partner”.

Step 7. Better know your contract risks 

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Companies that have taken a look at inefficient contracting processes, discover conflicting processes. In the best case this only creates inconsistency.  In the worst case many lawyers talk to us about processes where they have made red lines which have been lost over email exchanges, which came back to haunt them six months later.

Technology institutionalizes key contract knowledge, globally and consistently, reducing risk. In the words of LawGeex’s head of product Michal Bell: “Legal knowledge tends to reside in lawyers’ heads, creating a dependency on lawyers sharing their know-how. AI is helping to distribute this knowledge simply, across an organization. For the first time, a veteran GC who has been at a company for 30 years, a paralegal who has just joined, or a non-legal member, will have at their fingertips the same institutional knowledge needed to effectively review and approve everyday contracts before signing them.”

Legal in Pole Position or Pit stop? 

Technology and automation is clearing the lanes of approval. It is making contract approval faster and smarter. This allows the most innovative and cost-conscious companies to build a Formula 1 legal department, based on data, consistency, collaboration, a 24-hour service, visual playbooks, and what many In-House Counsel hear from their peers – Return on Investment. This new technological age is allowing lawyers to no longer be at the pit stop – but take pole position in contract efficiency.

Interested in learning more?  Join an exciting Webinar on Wednesday, November 29th on 5 Steps to Implement Contract Triage

Jonathan Marciano, Communications Director at LawGeex, is  originally from London. He is  currently in Tel Aviv,  helping to bring about the legal revolution. Follow him on Twitter. @J_Marciano 

Cost of processing a basic contract soars to $6900

We asked our friends at the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM) how much a contract costs a business. Tim Cummins, President of the IACCM, says inefficiency is pushing up the price of getting a basic contract signed. 

Tim Cummins, President of the IACCM

Here we are in 2017, with businesses focusing on automation and agility. So surely operational costs in areas such as contracting must have reduced?

In fact, the average cost to businesses of processing and reviewing a basic everyday contract is only rising. The study, based on analysis of more than 700 organizations, found that business spend on a standard, low risk procurement contract from draft, negotiation, to signature, has increased 38% in the past six years, to an average of $6,900. Costs for a mid-complexity contract, stands at $21,300 and high complexity contracts run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The full picture of contract review and approval 

This is based on data from large companies and enterprises in North America and Europe with annual revenues of $1billion or more, comparing current costs with a similar analysis undertaken in 2011.The true cost of a contract reflects the extensive (and growing) time of departments, in getting a deal through.

The contract stages include contract creation, processing, review, and negotiation. There are also substantial costs incurred due to the involvement of multiple individuals in an organization now required to iron out the contract details. This may include negotiations setting out statements of work, price or charge schedules, and security considerations (such as in the approval of a software agreement).

The breakdown of costs in a typical procurement contract involves:

  • 5 hours of legal time (costing a business $500)
  • Around 18 hours of contract manager/procurement time (at a cost of $2700)
  • Around 12 hours of operations, engineering, or project management time ($1800)
  • 2 hours in Finance (c$300)
  • Up to 6 hours with compliance / risk / or regulatory functions (c$1000)
  • $600 (respondents noted ‘other’ types of review or resources)

Cost data influencing these findings are extracted from the 2017 IACCM salary survey, based on our 40,000 members.

Regulation and service contracts driving up costs 

One of the main factors causing an increase in contracts costs is an increase in regulation, such as anti-bribery legislation, data protection and cybersecurity rules.

Perhaps as importantly, services also now represent 58% of business-to-business spend (vs product spend). Contracts for tangible goods (the main source of contracts in the past) are much easier to, define and specify. Intangible services contracts require increased diligence, such as validating supplier capabilities through service delivery undertakings, drafting service levels, and outlining key performance indicators. The growing importance of complex services makes contracts more complex, and therefore more costly.

Growing gap between best-in-class contract companies and “laggards”  

The gap between average and best has grown.  While the average cost of a simple contract has risen by $1900 (38%) in six years, for the most efficient organizations this price has risen by only $300 (9%) driven by automation and more strategic processes. Smart companies are moving away from templates and into standard term databases, generating less contention, and saving time and money. This is also where Artificial Intelligence contract review is starting to kick in.

How to follow the cost cutters? 

The most efficient companies adopt contract “playbooks”, codifying legal contract policies in the organization. In addition, AI solutions are eliminating the need for case-by-case discussion of clauses. The lowest costs for an individual contract is $3,800 for simple contracts, $14,000 for mid complexity contracts, and $49,000 for high risk or unique contracts.

What does this mean for your business?

Management in many companies is awakening to the inherent inefficiencies of today’s contracting processes. The extent of manual intervention, outdated methods of production, individualistic approaches to legal drafting, and error-prone production of key documents such as statements of work impose unacceptable delays and costs.

Emerging technologies should eliminate many of these problems. Intelligent systems, together with the steady development of global standard terms, will revolutionize the way that contracts are produced and managed — only then revealing the scale of costs that are associated with today’s methods.

About IACCM

The International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (IACCM) is drawn from 164 countries, 16,800+ corporations, has a membership of over 40,000. It is made up of contract managers, commercial managers, sales, negotiators, supply chain professionals, and attorneys.

IACCM offers training and certification service, conducts research and benchmarking to identify trends in contract and commercial management.

About LawGeex

LawGeex is transforming legal operations using artificial intelligence, and helping businesses save hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars reviewing and approving everyday contracts. Founded in 2014 by international lawyer Noory Bechor and leading AI expert Ilan Admon, LawGeex enables businesses to automate their contract approval process, improving consistency, operational efficiency and getting business moving faster. For more information, please visit www.lawgeex.com or tweet us @lawgeex.

 

 

Top 10 Tweets from The ACC Annual Meeting 2017

The swamp of legal apathy was well and truly drained in Washington DC as the largest gathering of in-house lawyers assembled in the U.S capital. More than 4000 in-house counsel attended the ACC Annual Meeting (14-18 October 2017) to debate the hottest trends, innovations in the law, and future of the profession. Twitter, as always, was there to capture the debate. The Washington Twitterstorm covered everything from blockchain, to Legal Operations, access to justice, and who exactly has the best swag? Here we reveal the top 10 Tweets from the conference.

1. Law and the Blockchain Revolution

Don Tapscott, bestselling author of the Blockchain Revolution, began the conference which served to establish a tech focus. Ron Friedmann, Partner at Fireman & Company noted : “#ACCAM17 seems ahead of law firm counterparts in putting #blockchain front and center.” Tapscott explained that corporate counsel needs to keep blockchain on their radar.

Ilona Korzha, in-house counsel for Fortune 100 company, Sprint, noted: “Fantastic and thought-provoking presentation. Who knew that blockchain was so much more than just currency?” Mark Schwarz Vice President & General Counsel at Teletrac Navman, added: “Blockchain is everywhere… legal challenges and opportunities abound.”

2. The rise of Legal Operations 

To make Law Great Again, the ACC prescribed Legal Operations (26% of general counsel have legal operations functions, up from 16% in 2016). “Of all the wonderful sessns/great thinkg at this meetg, THIS may have the most long-term impact” tweeted Susan Hackett, CEO of Legal Executive Leadership, amd former GC for the ACC. The session was led by Reese Arrowsmith, Vice President, Head of Operations, Campbell Soup Company. with case studies from Citigroup and AbbVie.

Catherine J Moynihan, ACC Associate Vice President, Legal Management Services says: “I have been struck by the number of general counsel who are starting up legal departments and want to build it with an operational model in mind. They are thrilled with the ‘boot camp’ put on by an ensemble faculty of legal ops pros explaining how to put an operations road map in place and build the department with solid, scalable financial and vendor management practices underpinned by a technology strategy.”

3. AI has arrived In-House 

The number of in-house counsel with an eye on AI has risen (LawGeex had great face-to face meetups with many of our customers benefiting from AI during the conference). The automation of everyday legal tasks was center stage in Rise of the Machines: Can Compliance and Litigation Keep Up?, a panel moderated by Mark Huller, Senior Counsel from The Cincinnati Insurance Company, and featuring Khalid Al-Kofahi, R&D Vice President at Thomson Reuters; Cynthia Boeh, General Counsel at Other World Computing; and Martin Tully from Akerman LLP.

Kofahi used the mantra “what business are we in?” noting that if lawyers are in the advice business then they should embrace this. Boeh simply called AI “miraculous” for taking the menial tasks out of the law. Thomson Reuters also unveiled a new paper on AI for in-house counsel, finding that roughly two-thirds (67%) of all survey respondents stated they are confident and ready to try new technology. This included research showing 39% of in-house counsel predicted it will be commonplace within 10 years, and 37% believed it will take more than 10 years.

4. Networking good. But where’s the social media?

This gets meta. There was discussion on Twitter on the need for more social media interaction at conferences (this is now reflected in this round up of the best tweets, likely found on social media). Justin G. Castillo, Head of Legal at BT Americas, explains: “Obviously the point of social media is what Kevin O’Keefe says: Reputation and Relationships” (Kevin O’Keefe is founder of LexBlog seeking to share information, news, and commentary to help lawyers and other professionals looking to network online).

Castillo adds: “Sure, you can (and should) do retail networking and shake hands at receptions/conference, but you also can use social media to find those people you’d like to meet in person.  It also helps you tap into the wisdom and insights that smart colleagues put out every. single. Day.  To illustrate, I have a list of 219 people on my legal innovators list.  They provide me with invaluable insight into how technology and innovation are changing how attorneys work.  Attorneys who don’t tap into this are missing out big-time, and organizations such as ACC need to work harder to drive that point hoe and show lawyers the way. A few people “get it,” but we have a looooooong way to go.”

5. Healthfulness and Building Resilience

Nicolle Schippers, Associate General Counsel at Arag North America was among those tweeting about a fascinating session – which used techniques from the U.S military to create greater resilience among lawyers. This evaluated the challenges faced by lawyers who must practice skepticism and “pessimism”Tweets Michal Cardman, Employment law editor at XpertHR  (The) “pessimistic style useful for assessing legal risks. Attorneys should strive for *flexibility* and be optimistic where appropriate.”

6. #ProBono Proud 

Corporate Pro Bono, a partnership project of the Pro Bono Institute and the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), is designed to substantially increase the amount of pro bono work performed by in-house counsel. Here, President of the DC Bar, and Sr. V.P., General Counsel at ULLICO Inc, Patrick McGlone, tweets his support.

7. Swag!!!

Peter Halprin, attorney in Anderson Kill’s New York office, officially won the ACC Annual Conference (though let us know if your stash exceeds this).

8. Cultivating the Millennial in-house lawyer

Above The Law’s Joe Patrice provides one sensitive approach to cultivating in-house millennials. In a session on this topic, Ryan Evans, director, corporate counsel, Jack in the Box; Elizabeth Henries, attorney; Camille Olson, Seyfarth Shaw and Welly Tantono, country counsel, Hewlett-Packard Asia Pacific unpicked the legal generational gap issue. They talked about the differences between “Builders”, “Baby Boomers”, “Gen X” and “Millennials”.

9.  Champions of innovation at the ACC

Lucy Bassli, Assistant GC at Microsoft, shows the power of planning, processes and legaltech (although LawGeex unfortunately cannot take credit for this success, we are helping dozens of clients automate the approval of NDAs and other contracts in an hour or less).

Lucy was one of dozens of ACC “Value Champions” featured at the conference, transforming process and operations, including Urmila Paranjpe Baumann, assistant general Counsel at Express Scripts; Brad Lundeen, senior corporate attorney at Cabela’s Inc; Jami Segota, SVP GC at Ricoh USA; Michael Tucker, General Counsel at Avis Budget Group; and Mick Sheehy, General Counsel at Telstra.

10. Where is ACC Next Year?

Matt Nolan, VP & General Counsel, Ancra Group and Director of Heico Global Compliance (and friends) at the end of the conference. We also look forward to seeing you all in Austin next year.

In-House Counsel get your free guide now to see the best LegalTech for in-house lawyers today to help you in your innovation journey. 

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9 Top Trends making the ACC Annual Meeting the kickass event for in-house lawyers

On October 15-18 in Washington DC more than 4000 of the world’s top in-house counsels gather and debate on the future of law. It is a golden time for the in-house legal profession. Only last week the Financial Times branded in-house lawyers “the new pathfinders”, arguing that “the most innovative legal expertise is often close to home in organizations.”

These top 9 trends, show what lawyers at the world’s top companies are predicting as the major priorities for in-house lawyers at the conference.

1. Innovation through collaboration

Blake T Bilstad, SVP and General Counsel, of World Wrestling entertainment (WWE),  says the learning and networking opportunities at the ACC Annual meetup “are unparalleled for in-house lawyers.”

Wwe GIFs - Find & Share on GIPHY


Bilstad adds: “I find that our ACC Annual meetings provide a welcome ‘time out’ to the daily grind of an in-house practice — a chance to hit the reset button on learned behaviors over the years and to sit back and study with one’s peers as if we were back in law school, just on a more practical level.” It is a sentiment echoed by Jolene Marshall, Director of Legal at collaboration platform, Smartsheet. 

2. Swag 

Look we are all human, and getting the best free stuff is one of life’s true pleasures. For the uninitiated, MerriamWebster dictionary says: “The freebie swag, sometimes also spelled schwag, dates back to the 1960s and was used to describe promotional items. According to our files, early swag was everything from promotional records sent to radio stations to free slippers for airline passengers.”

Hundreds of these robots are available from LawGeex at the ACC Annual Meeting

Rob Falk, General Counsel, at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation says his French coffee maker picked up at an ACC Annual is now a regular part of his 5am wake up routine, calling it “the best swag from an ACC annual meeting”. There are lots of booths offering promotional items. Of note: the first 30 attendees to the ACC Law Department Management committee  lunch will get miniature bottles of Jack Daniels, to help get through the later conference sessions.

3. Washington Politics + Legal Coming together 

The conference will bring out legal lessons from the new-ish US administration. “Place is important” says Welly Tantono, Country Counsel, Hewlett-Packard in Asia Pacific.  “With the changes in the U.S political landscape, I think it’s a great chance for me to experience DC and gauge for myself the current feel of the U.S administration and the people who work in the Government.” Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta (who has served in three presidential-appointed, Senate-confirmed positions)  will provide an update on the state of the American workforce. The political theme continues with sessions including “Regulatory Turmoil During Trump’s First Year: Providing Advice When US Regulatory Change or Repeal Is Occurring, Imminent, or Uncertain”; Government Affairs and the General Counsel, and Planning for Brexit: What In-house Lawyers Should Do Now.

4. Legal technology adoption for in-house lawyers 

Don Tapscott opens the ACC Annual Meeting 2017

Don Tapscott, bestselling author of Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World opens the conference, which then maintains a distinctive tech focus. Another session is entitled: What to Deploy Now: A Candid Discussion about the What, Where, When and How of Deploying Existing Technologies in your Legal Department.  This features tales of legal technology adoption from Stephanie Lambert, VP, Associate General Counsel, Staples; Ravi Kiran Mamidanna, Senior Counsel at Abbott Laboratories and Ann Marie McLaughlin, Director of Legal Knowledge and Vendor Management at Liberty Mutual Group. (For more on this theme check out The In-House Counsel’s LegalTech Buyers Guide – a free, downloadable guide that showcases technology solutions lawyers need to know).

5.  Legal Rockstars leaving legal shook up

There are several chances to hear from winners of the ACC Value Champion series, sharing scars and victories in creating landmark processes including client firm partnerships and driving legal savings.

Speakers who are winner of the top innovation accolade include Urmila Paranjpe Baumann, assistant general Counsel at Express Scripts; Brad Lundeen, senior corporate attorney at Cabela’s Inc; Jami Segota, SVP GC at Ricoh USA; Michael Tucker, General Counsel at Avis Budget Group, and Mick Sheehy, General Counsel at Telstra. Then there is chance to meet Elvis himself (below).

6. Legal management from Elvis 

In the rapidly changing profession, the ACC Law Department Management Committee (LDMC) committee is focused on management of people, workflow, information, knowledge, legal service providers.

Stephen Roth, Vice President of the committee and General Counsel at JTV, has the task of bringing Elvis. He says: “The LDMC’s slogan for this year is “Best Content. Most Fun. Elvis is there to inject extra energy into our committee meeting and lunch.  It’s also meant to give people a reason to come check us out and learn more about what the committee does.” (Please book ahead if you are attending the LDMC lunch via the registration form online); and to learn entrepreneurship from Elvis see here.

7. The rise and rise of AI

The boom in legal AI has changed the landscape of the in-house profession forever. The ACC asks a number of interesting questions in sessions: Rise of the Machines, Can Compliance and Litigation Keep Up? In another session, presenters debate: AI for Corporate Departments: What is Real Now? The questions raised include: will it eventually be considered negligent not to use AI to identify and monitor compliance risks? What are the possibilities of AI in core legal work from contract review, to litigation, prediction of jury verdicts and Ediscovery?

8.  Legal Operations and the new norm 

There is a movement towards a (more commercially-minded) Legal Operations role in businesses (26% of general counsel have legal operations functions, up from 16% in 2016). The ACC has helped lead the revolution, and the annual meeting highlights legal operations for the first time in its history. Catherine J Moynihan, ACC Associate Vice President, Legal Management Services says: “Well over 300 have signed up to come to the session for General Counsel who are considering adding a legal operations function (session titlled “How to Set Up a Best in Class Legal Ops Function”). Moynihan adds: “There is lots more to come to meet demand for training, including monthly webcasts and a toolkit on the 14 topics featured in the ACC Maturity Model for the Operations of a Legal Department.”

9. The future of the Contract 

The changing nature of contracts and technologies role in a digitized, global, and software-driven world is a major subplot. In Key Issues in Negotiating and Drafting Subscription Services Agreements, panelists will discuss best practices and recent trends in Software as a Service (SaaS) contracts, including practical advice on key clauses and terms found in these perennial software contracts.  Then, the wry master contract drafter Ken Adams, author of a deceptively brilliant blog about modern contracting, provides a masterclass on clear and efficient drafting.

In an interactive game-show format, the ACC International Legal Affairs Committee, will talk contracts in Deal or No Deal: Negotiating and Drafting International Contracts.

To check out AI contract review platform LawGeex and find out how businesses can quickly answer the question “Can I sign this?” come visit the booth near the entrance (you may also get a free robot).

Jonathan Marciano, Communications Director at LawGeex, is  originally from London. He is  currently in Tel Aviv, helping to bring about the legal revolution. Follow him on Twitter. @J_Marciano

Tales of LegalTech Adoption: Vicky Lockie, formerly Associate GC at Pearson

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In a series of monthly interviews, LawGeex speaks to top In-House Counsel adopting legal technology to enhance productivity. Here, we speak to Vicky Lockie, Senior Consultant VBL Consulting, and formerly Associate GC at Pearson. 

Vicky Lockie is formerly associate General Counsel at Pearson where she oversaw major change in the legal department. She now uses her expertise to give legal teams advice and provide services effectively.

What is Pearson and how is its in-house legal team organized? 

Pearson is the world’s leading learning company, employing more than 35,000 people in 70 countries. Pearson is undergoing significant change as its business transforms moving from print to digital, from products to services, selling more directly to consumer and into the world’s growth economies.  This is all underpinned by a major restructuring of back office systems designed to simplify business processes.

As part of this strategic shift Pearson has created a global legal team of approx. 170 staff with the bulk of its legal team based in the US and UK.

What problem were you trying to solve?  

Like most in-house legal departments, we were under pressure to ‘do more with less’.

We decided to use the corporate drive to simplify business processes as an opportunity to do things differently and to redesign some of the legal departments processes.

Education company Pearson was forced to change its legal strategies as it began selling more directly to consumer and into the world’s growth economies.

How did you decide what to do? 

Against the backdrop of wider business transformation, we identified a business team which was using a disproportionate amount of legal resource. That team we generating many low value, low risk contracts needing lots of legal support. The work of that team had been done the same way for a long time and provided an opportunity for process improvement.

What was your objective? 

We had several objectives; for the legal team, we wanted to free-up lawyers to deal with more strategic and intellectually challenging work; for the business team we wanted to give them more control over this area of work as it was closely tied to product creation.

we wanted to free-up lawyers to deal with more strategic and intellectually challenging work; for the business team we wanted to give them more control

 

To achieve these objectives, we decided the business should be enabled to create their own contracts and move away from a set of manual, time consuming and resource heavy processes.

As we only had a very modest budget we decided that these objectives would be delivered using our e-signature tool. Most e-signature tools allow for creation of basic automated workflows and embedded forms, in this case a set of simple standard contract templates. This would provide a simple solution which could automate the process and provide valuable data.

Practically what did you do?

As a first step, we worked out the current ‘as is’ process. This required discussion with all stakeholders both within the legal function and the business teams.

The existing process was examined to identify areas of simplification. After elimination of any unnecessary, out of date, duplicate steps a new process was created embedding the use of the e-signature tool.

Collaboration over this process is essential to ensure success of any such project.

With the new process established templates for the contracts were created. Standardization simplification and rationalization of existing contract templates was essential to reduce legal risk and to ensure the business teams could choose the correct contract template to use.

Finally, with everything in place we trained the legal and business teams who would be following the new processes. We also created a set of support information containing the training materials, ‘how to’ video clips, and FAQ’s which were placed on the intranet site.

How did you communicate change to the business?

It was essential to ensure that the business stakeholders were fully engaged with the project. As part of the initial planning process all stakeholders were identified and communicated with. We spent considerable time on preparation, particularly with the legal stakeholders – most importantly understanding anxieties and letting people vent. Getting it all out upfront helps not to derail the project further down the line.

The business and legal stakeholders were fully engaged with process mapping and the training. This collaboration brought benefits far beyond the scope of the project.

Pearson’s transformation saw a reduction in average contract turnaround times from several weeks to less than 24 hours, and cost to legal per contract reduced by over 80%

After implementation, all users were asked to participate in a feedback process. It was important that the feedback was seen to be taken seriously and improvements were actioned quickly.

What have the results been? 

For this team the move away from bespoke contracts has resulted in many benefits including;

  • Reduction in average contract turnaround times from several weeks to less than 24 hours
  • Cost to legal per contract reduced by over 80%
  • Adoption of standardised and consistent contracts has reduced legal risk
  • Move to paperless contracting has reduced postage, filing & storage costs as well as being more environmentally friendly
  • Increased levels of user satisfaction

What advice would you give to other In-House Counsel facing change?

  • Pick something relatively quick and simple as your first project. By being able to execute a project successfully you will gain trust and credibility not only with the teams who are affected by the change but also more widely in the business.
  • Be clear (with yourself and others) about what you are trying to achieve and why.
  • Understand the change process – the change curve is real.
  • Remember that you are dealing with individuals, people all react to change differently and go through the change process at different speeds.  Allow more time than you think  and you will need and be mindful of the tone of your communications.
  • Think about how you use technology – there are lots of tools on the market but the real key to success is the process, technology is just a tool to enable a better process.

Do you think it is harder to encourage change among lawyers than other professions? 

I do. With any change, it very important to understand the psychology of people you are dealing with. Inherently the legal profession is conservative, lawyers have been trained to focus on detail, analyse all potential issues, they tend to seek perfection and can be risk adverse.

Should lawyers be worried about automation or rise of technology?

It depends on their perspective. 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.

I would advocate a ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ approach rather than adopting the ostrich position.

What tech would you most like to see invented for in-house lawyers?

A real virtual ‘Alexa like’ assistant where you can speak a request and your assistant can find what you are looking for or execute your request.

e.g. “could you find the email I send to someone at x company a couple of weeks ago, where I mentioned project y”

Is today’s tech age, a better or worse time to be an in-house counsel?

Again, 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.

Vicky is among the top in-house counsel featured in The In-House Counsel’s LegalTech Buyers Guide.

Download the full guide now to see the best LegalTech for in-house lawyers today including more tools for contract drafting; contract review; digital signature; contract and matter management; contract due diligence; legal research; eDiscovery; Prediction technology; Intellectual Property; Expertise automation; eBilling; Legal analytics; simple task management; and Communications.

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Get the FREE Legal Technology Buyer’s Guide for In-House Counsel and discover:

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  • 100+ top technology solutions for legal departments
  • Personal recommendations and stories from dozens of in-house lawyers and legal experts
  • Explanations of an in-house legaltech buying journey, including barriers to adoption, establishing and monitoring KPIs, and more