Getting To Grips With Using Legal Technology: The GC Viewpoint

Maitreyee Bapat
Maitreyee Bapat

Idex Legal in partnership with Provakil.

Vikas Vij in conversation with Navneet Hrishikesan and Shashwat Sikka.

Panel Introductions

Vikas Vij - (Managing Director at Idex Legal)

Navneet Hrishikesan - (Executive Director, Legal [Asia Pacific and Japan] Service Provider at Cisco)

Shashwat Sikka - (Co-founder at Provakil)

“The growth in any sphere is not linear, there has to be a revolution, and I believe that legal tech is now at the cusp of a revolution.”

Navneet Hrishikesan, Executive Director at Cisco

On 28th October 2021, the panelist hosted a discussion on legal tech's overall scope, development, and future. The concept has been taking shape since the 1970s and has been a primarily inward focusing sector. But with the industry developing rapidly, the focus of legal tech is now shifting from an inward vision to an outward spectrum. When law firms essentially moved to adopt legal tech, they wanted to implement it to increase internal efficiency. Still, as legal departments became an integral part of a business, the focus began to shift to broader horizons.

Interesting Fact: John Hotty, a lawyer, was the 1st one to build a tracker for all the laws that hospitals used to run their operations.

The Indian market was extremely slow in adopting legal technology. It was sporadic to find firms with dedicated legal departments. But with time, the legal departments developed and became an integral part of the business focused on pushing it to be more efficient.

At the given moment, we are in a position to evaluate where legal tech is. If we consider how businesses have developed, we can immediately infer that we live in the global age. The phase of outsourcing legal operations is long gone. The businesses are more focused on having an in-house legal team as an integral part of business development and growth.

“Businesses with a good structured in-house legal department will soon gain a competitive edge over other firms that outsource their legal work.”

Shashwat Sikka, Co-Founder at Provakil

Over the last few decades, building new technology has become a low-priced affair. The efficiency that the modern legal teams need can only be made in-house. The General Counsels of many firms have demanded a seat at the table for many decades, and with legal technology stepping in, they have finally got it. However, choosing good legal tech software is not an easy ball game. The recent trends speak of an approach where firms believe that a legal tech tool should only solve a legal problem. However, they forget to look at utilizing that tool from a company viewpoint. General Counsels need to understand how the tool will help the legal team and how it will propel overall business development.

The go-to for choosing a legal tech tool should be:

  1. Focus on the problems.
  2. Identify the nature of your work and demarcate the sections of your business operations that need revamping.

Organizations evolve through various stages of development, and they require different systems as they grow. However, one thing that every organization has to pay attention to immediately is not to wait anymore to digitize every process. The lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic are sufficient evidence that manual processes proved to be bottlenecks when the working culture took a significant turn in an unknown direction. Every firm first needs to evaluate where they are positioned and then look at digitization as an opportunity to grow from thereon.

Adopting legal tech is still novel to the legal teams. There is a high level of curiosity around how artificial intelligence and machine learning are being implemented to solve legal problems. The first checkpoint to tick off while you are thinking about implementing a legal tech tool is to respect data and the data models, along with the different layers of problems that the legal departments face. Without ticking this off, AI and ML are underutilized.

Key Takeaways:

  • As legal teams are becoming an integral part of business, the focus of legal tech is slowly broadening from inward to outward visions.
  • Looking at how the pandemic has changed the working ecosystem for everyone, the legal tech industry is standing on the brink of a revolution. Every process of a legal department is being automized to make them business enablers.
  • The General Counsels are now getting a seat at the table to chart out ways that in-house legal teams can contribute to business goals.
  • AI and ML will be fully utilized only after a workable data management model is carved out.
  • A clear picture of the intended outcomes of a digital tool needs to be a top priority for any General Counsel.

Having a clear idea of the achievable outcomes of implementing automated tools for the legal departments is a critical task that all General Counsels need to have. The involvement of team members on every level of the process that is about to be automated is crucial for any firm opting for digitization. On-boarding a team to a new platform has to be a process and not something that happens overnight.

While implementing a new product, the General Counsels need to have a structured plan of action;

  1. Have a clear picture of how the whole process works.
  2. Be very particular about the security of your data and operations.
  3. What are the acceptable standards for a tool depending on your location and the territorial laws.
  4. Get a trial.

At Provakil, the object has always been to develop products with depth. The company needs to speak one language, internally and externally. To harness the true power of technology for the legal field, everyone needs to be on the same page.

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Maitreyee Bapat

Maitreyee has been a proficient writer for more than 4 years and has experience in writing for various fields. Her inclination to write stems from a motivation to formulate content that is relatable.