We chat to Saran Kaur, Legal Tech Engagement Manager at Allen & Overy about why the company is so interested in LawTech, the biggest trends in LawTech and whether we'll need real lawyers in the future.
Can you please let us have your career history?
I studied Law at University, went on to complete the Legal Practice Course and worked as a paralegal for a short while before falling into the world of “Legal Engineering”. I spent two years working at Pinsent Masons LLP as a Legal Knowledge Engineer, coding legal documents, process mapping transactions and building online workflows. I then spent three years at Linklaters LLP working as a Legal Automation Consultant focusing on change management and document automation. I then joined Allen & Overy LLP as a LegalTech Engagement Manager, this role focuses on the broader legal tech landscape working with our lawyers, clients and Fuse cohort members.
Why is your company so interested in LawTech?
At A&O, we are committed to fostering an innovative and collaborative environment. Our senior partner Wim Dejonghe has spearheaded this, but innovation is found throughout the firm. In September 2017, we opened Fuse, our collaborative tech innovation space to explore, develop and test legal, regulatory and deal-related solutions. It was created to give our lawyers and clients opportunities to better understand the use of technology that could benefit them.
We have learned that being able to trial innovative legal technology and discuss features or requirements with tech providers, with the support of the legaltech team, allows our lawyers the freedom to explore and come up with ideas of where technology can be applied in legal practice. Legal tech is also used widely throughout our firm and we have licensed and rolled out a range of new legal tech applications, including Kira, RAVN, Legatics, SignalMedia and Avvoka.
As part of our Advanced Delivery toolkit - how we use a combination of market leading expertise, flexible resourcing and new technologies to deliver services to clients – we have our legal technology group.
What’s your personal interest – are you a lawyer by trade?
I have an interest in both Law & Technology. Having studied Law and worked in IT between my undergraduate and postgraduate studies it is great to work in a role which brings both skills sets together. I am particularly interested to see how “BigData” is going to impact legal service delivery. At A&O we are fortunate to have a team of Data Scientists exploring how best to uncover data accumulated throughout the lifecycle of a transaction and how to spot trends, gain valuable insights and exploit potential opportunities previously unknown.
How would some of the new technology you are seeing today have helped you in the early part of your career?
If I think back to my time as a paralegal, having had technology solutions in place with the relevant approvals and guidance notes at each stage of a workflow would have meant senior lawyers may have delegated more complex tasks allowing for greater exposure to more varied and stimulating tasks.
What are the biggest trends in LawTech and how will they impact the industry?
For law firms, technologies that focus on the following three areas; Contract Lifecycle Management, Deal Management and Information Extraction appear to be the biggest trends. We are already seeing the impact of some of these technologies with streamlined deal teams, greater efficiency in the delivery of legal services, and new service delivery models of certain work types, aosphere is a great example of this. Alternatively, for in-house legal teams, technologies that focus on Contract Lifecycle Management, Knowledge Management and Risk Management appear to be the biggest trends.
What kind of LawTech excites you the most?
For me it’s identifying the types of technologies that have capabilities to link with other technologies, or have the capability to grow and target several points of a transaction. I am most excited in finding the solution that brings all the various point solutions we see in the market today together in a way that completely revolutionises the way a transaction is ran end to end.
How have you been working with any of the LawTech businesses in the Eagle Lab?
I have worked closely with both Avvoka and Legatics. It has been great to see both companies and their products evolve over the last year and continue to grow. Having communities such as Eagle Labs really helps start-ups gain direct access to their end users and ultimately gain crucial feedback on their products, especially in the early stages of their product development. I have also seen how Eagle Labs has helped to provide an open environment where the start-ups can collaborate with each other to tackle similar challenges and barriers they face in entering the legal services market.
What impact will LawTech have on the law firm of the future?
New roles and teams leading to a new and advanced delivery of legal services. Traditionally a deal team or even earlier a pitch team may include a Relationship Partner, a Client Relationship / Account Manager and senior members of the deal team. In the future, I would expect to see a multidisciplinary team made up of lawyers, project managers and developers.
Any LawTech predictions – will we need real lawyers in the future?
We will always need lawyers, technology is an enabler and not a replacement for human legal service delivery.