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Legal tech made simple
17 minutes | Jun 9, 2021
Interview with Christophe Frèrebeau, Co-founder & CEO of Della
In our latest podcast, Dom talks to Christophe Frèrebeau, the co-founder and CEO of Della, a European tech company based in Paris and London whose mission is to democratise the use of AI. Della's typical customers are legal departments who want more consistency in the way they manage their contracts, particularly as teams increasingly work remotely; and European law firms who are accelerating the adoption of tech. Della makes AI solutions that lawyers want to use, that are easy to use and that fit in with the way they work. Christophe explains that AI is there to help and support the lawyer but the lawyer remains firmly in the driving seat. Recently, people have been working with more tools, and integration with other technology platforms and tools is key. The adoption of tech by lawyers and the tech itself will keep evolving which is super exciting but also means that the legal function will change and studying how to use AI is important for lawyers today.Tune in to find out more.
14 minutes | Mar 22, 2021
Interview with Becca Windsor and Laura Ferraz - legal engineers at SYKE
This week I had the pleasure of speaking to two of SYKE's brightest sparks, Laura and Becca. Both of whom started out as junior engineers, but since joining the company have had the opportunity to work on some high profile projects.They tell me what it is like being given responsibility, access to customers, and the trust to try things out and learn by making mistakes.Becca joined from the University of Manchester where she studied law and politics, having flipped a coin.Both Laura and Becca have had the courage to say yes, whenever an opportunity to learn has presented itself, and would encourage others in their old shoes at Uni or studying A levels to do the same.As an old fogie it's inspiring to hear their stories.
23 minutes | Mar 15, 2021
Interview with Chris Kitchener, VP Product Management Thomson Reuters
This week I had the pleasure of speaking to Chris Kitchener of HighQ fame.A driven product leader with over 15 years of product strategy and product management expertise in large organisations. Chris is now in charge of helping HighQ fit elegantly into the full suite of Thomson Reuters products, be that document automation and Contract Express, or Legal Tracker.He has a pilot's licence, is a techy from his uni days, and has a passion for the customer - who doesn't really care about the clever tech under the bonnet - they just want it to work smoothly. Chris is focussed on delivering great products, delighting customers and creating business value through operational and strategic excellence. He has a great CV, and a track record of delivering results across multiple industries, organisations, functions and teams. Tune in to hear what he has to say.
14 minutes | Mar 12, 2021
Interview with Olga Mack, CEO & Chairwoman Parley Pro
Olga V. Mack, CEO & Chairwoman of Parley Pro, a modern, (and truly!) collaborative, and intuitive contract lifecycle management (CLM) platform that has pioneered online negotiation technology. Olga loves legal innovation and has dedicated her career to improving and shaping the future of law. She's convinced the legal profession will emerge even stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive than before by embracing technology.She is an award-winning general counsel, operations professional, startup advisor, public speaker, adjunct professor, and entrepreneur. She co-founded SunLaw, an organization dedicated to preparing female in-house attorneys to become general counsels and legal leaders, and WISE to help female law firm partners become rainmakers.Now CEO and Chairwoman at Parley Pro, Olga and her team are using smart collaboration, speeding up contract cycles by seamlessly bringing together people and data in one transparent workspace. This is a short interview, but Olga being Olga, she packs a lot in. Enjoy!
18 minutes | Mar 9, 2021
Interview with Eric Laughlin, CEO Agiloft
In this episode I caught up with Agiloft’s new (ish) CEO Eric Laughlin. He tells me all about the company’s recent $45m investment. Bootstrapped since its inception in 1990 and profitable, Agiloft’s this is the company’s first round of external funding and will be used to accelerate its product development and expand its vertical and geographic market presence.Eric most recently served as global leader of legal managed services at EY, where he managed the Pangea3 and Riverview Law teams. Prior to EY he was managing director of the corporate segment within Thomson Reuters and used to run Serengeti, which went on to become Legal Tracker. Like me, he's not a lawyer, but unlike me, he's a super smart guy who is at the forefront of legal engineering and enterprise transformation.He see contracts as the DNA in an organisation - and thinks companies should care about what is deep coded within them so they understand their risks, but also can benefit more fully from what is contained with in them.He also is passionate about culture and the relationships his teams build with customers. Eric says being relationship driven and being very transparent, are cornerstones of any good culture and definitely Agiloft's.
13 minutes | Feb 26, 2021
Interview with Pieter van der Hoeven, CEO at Clocktimizer
Pieter van der Hoeven and Bram Fokke founded Clocktimizer together in 2014. Since then they’ve grown the team to 19 employees.Pieter set the groundwork for Clocktimizer at university in Utrecht where he studied law. Upon completing his Masters in Law Pieter went to work for international law firm DLA Piper. It was during his time at DLA, and a secondment to KPN, that Pieter thought up the idea for Clocktimizer. He'd spent one too many evenings pouring over spreadsheets trying to provide clients with transparency, prompting the need for automation. Instead of manually transferring data from timesheets to Excel, Pieter looked to Natural Language Processing. After discussing the idea over 2012’s Christmas Dinner, Pieter and his co-founder Bram shook hands and agreed to start a business together. They began building the MVP in 2013, while Pieter was doing an MBA in Rotterdam and Madrid.He now feels data is coming of age. Window dressing is not going to cut it anymore. Law firms are going to have to back up what they say with numbers. He truly believes the pandemic was the last push that in-house teams needed to stop accepting a situation where someone said, this is going to cost you X and turned out to be 5X . Those days are gone.Tune in to hear more of what Pieter had to say.
16 minutes | Feb 11, 2021
Interview with Stephen Ball, CEO Boost Legal
This week I had the pleasure of speaking to Stephen Ball, CEO at Boost Legal. Stephen is a General Counsel by trade, with 25 years 'hands-on' in-house experience for companies across US, EU, Middle East, Russia and Africa. He has a strong track record of international leadership, designing, managing and coaching high performing legal, risk & compliance and corporate development functions.He has a passion for leading initiatives to transform and modernize legal functions to realize more value, improve strategic integration and develop legal as a competitive differentiator.He combines what he learned at Motorola, Six Sigma principles, with an aptitude for creative thinking, white boarding concepts with high performance professionals in the fields of sports and military special forces. Tune in to hear what he's got to say.
15 minutes | Jan 28, 2021
interview with Olga Gezha, ex Pizza Hut UK, head of SYKE Russia
This week I had the pleasure of catching up with Olga Gezha, who leads the SYKE presence in Russia.Olga was a customer of SYKE's when she led a team at Pizza Hut UK, having previously worked within the Yum! Brands in Russia at KFC before relocating to London.She has since returned to Russia and is now a leading figure in the legal tech scene there, having recently appeared at Pravo Tech in Moscow.Olga has a masters degree in legal tech and has been involved with contract lifecycle management since 2013.She is passionate about the role technology can play in making lawyer's lives easier - but understands the importance of bringing them with you, and making the case for why they should adopt new systems.Tune in to hear more.
15 minutes | Jan 22, 2021
Interview with Giles Thompson Head of Growth, Avvoka
This week I spoke to Giles Thompson, Head of Growth at Avvoka.A lawyer by trade (formerly Kirkland & Ellis and Herbert Smith Freehills) he is a tech investor and entrepreneur. He has a degree in political science and as the son of a farmer, also thinks of himself as an agriculturalist and foodie.Giles is excited by the future of legal tech and document automation. This month the company is launching its partnership with the Loan Market Association, giving those in the banking and finance sector the opportunity to use pre-automated agreements when striking a deal.Avvoka already has experience of multiple banks involved in a dynamic contract negotiation, with 18 parties successfully collaborating on the platform.Tune in to hear more.
15 minutes | Jan 14, 2021
Interview with Claire McGourlay, Professor of Law at The University of Manchester
Claire is a Principal and National Teaching Fellow of the HEA and a highly innovative lecturer. Claire is a Principal and National Teaching Fellow of the HEA and a highly innovative lecturer. She is the Director of External Relations in the School of Social Sciences and the Faculty of Humanities Leadership in Education Awards Programme (LEAP) Champion. Prior to that, she was the Director of Learning and Teaching at the School of Law (2017-2019). Claire has a passion for modernisation, developing new skills, new initiatives, and new ways of engaging students academically and professionally. Her efforts are recognised at all levels-regionally, nationally and internationally. She runs the Miscarriages of Justice Review Centre-The Manchester Innocence Project, and is currently developing the skills of students in legal tech as part of the Manchester Legal Tech Initiative. Claire encourages her students to show initiative, volunteer, and follow legal tech innovators on social media, and offers further advice to students who are considering alternative legal career paths. Tune in to learn more.
18 minutes | Jan 8, 2021
Interview with Stephane Muller, Contract Management, Amadeus
Stephane is a Senior Manager in the Contract Management team at Amadeus, and has a background in engineering.He's been with the company more than ten years, and leads the Contract Management team worldwide, and is responsible for strategic vision, helping the company drive efficiencies in contract management, including how to build and manage contracts.He is a regular speaker at international conferences on automation and contract management (IACCM, DocuSign), and in his role at Amadeus has helped put in place automation and electronic signature for all business units (HR, Procurement, Sales, Finance).He has some sage advice for other people in roles like his - namely, don't try to build solutions from scratch. Talk to expert partners or organisations that have gone through similar transformations and analyse your current tech stack to see what it is you really need. He has some clear visions for what the next six to 12 months will bring, and thinks that, though it may be difficult, companies should still be aiming to invest in legal tech in 2021. Tune in to find out more.
16 minutes | Dec 18, 2020
Interview with Nick Cranfield, Global Legal Operations Director, Dyson
Nick Cranfield is the Global Director Legal Operations at Dyson.Since joining Dyson in June 2017 he's been responsible for building out a global Compliance and Ethics function. Amongst other things, this involved the development and launch of a new Code of Conduct. Nick was also responsible for preparing Dyson for GDPR and took management responsibility for the Privacy Team.And in November 2019 he moved into a new role of Global Director Legal Operations to support Dyson’s Chief Legal Officer in managing the Dyson Legal department and leading a transformation programme across Dyson's Legal Teams.Globally Dyson has about a hundred legal IP and compliance professionals working across its legal teams in 12 jurisdictions, servicing their internal clients in around 36 different jurisdictions.Nick's first challenge was setting about trying to improve the experience for the people working within Dyson's legal function. As an in-house function, unlike an external law firm, the services they provide to the business are free at the point of delivery, a bit like the NHS. Effectively demand is completely unconstrained. That creates a lot of pressure for the people that work in legal. So Nick wanted to try and improve that experience. His second key objective was to make sure his teams continued to deliver excellent legal services to the business.One of the things Nick learned along the way was to align his legal operations strategy with the wider IT strategy. Using Microsoft 365 became a really fundamental part of that. By building within that native platform, it meant his development was already supported, and they were seen as 'good corporate citizens' because they were utilizing the IT tools which the enterprise was asking them to use.His advice to other inhouse legal operations directors is to have the courage to start. Make the changes that you want. Start to do something you need. Every journey starts with that single step and don't be afraid to take it. "We're not constructing a nuclear reactor. So if the portal goes wrong, if someone ends up at the wrong place or they don't quite get the guidance they wanted, as long as you provide feedback loops that are working. As long as you've got a non-defensive approach to feedback and you can fix things quickly."Nick says that's the big advantage of using Microsoft 365. It's not difficult. It's not technically complicated. So you can fail fast and move on. Tune in to hear more of what Nick had to say.
18 minutes | Dec 10, 2020
Interview with Jim Delkousis, CEO and founder Persuit
This week I had the opportunity to speak to Jim Delkousis, CEO and founder at Persuit.After graduating with his law degree, Jim began working at one of Australia’s leading law firms, Mallesons Stephen Jaques. He quickly made his way up the ranks, getting promoted to Senior Associate in 1995, and Partner in 1999. For the next six years, he oversaw their construction team, eventually helping the firm start a construction dispute practice in Perth.Looking for a change of pace, Jim left his firm in 2007 and joined DLA Piper in Dubai to lead their dispute practice in the Middle East. Here Jim helped his practice group become one of the most profitable in the firm.As he approached the tender age of 50, Jim started to rethink his career path. He left DLA Piper and founded Persuit to give companies an easier way to source and compare proposals for external legal services.Fast forward to 2020 and Jim is working with the world's leading organizations including Walmart, Shell, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Exelon, Target, Citi, Facebook, Twilio and Square.And saving them, on average, 37 per cent on quoted law firm fees for a particular assignment, which translates into tens of millions of dollars in savings. Tune in to find out more.
17 minutes | Nov 30, 2020
Interview with Jim Wagner, Vice President, Agreement Cloud Strategy at DocuSign
In this episode I was delighted to speak to a legal tech superstar Jim Wagner, who has been innovating in the sector for 20 years. Having trained in law, Jim practiced as a lawyer for ten years before transitioning to the business side of things. Jim tells us about his journey into Seal (now part of DocuSign Agreement Cloud), and how AI and machine learning are really beginning to transform aspects of the inhouse lawyer's ability to do their roles particularly in relation to analysing corporate contracts.When Jim became aware of Seal, it was focused exclusively on the corporate market - so Jim and his team created accelerators - collections of AI models that solve for things like procurement and compliance, or ISDA or NDAs. Even though companies like Seal have been doing this now for 10 years, the reality is, Artificial Intelligence is still on a maturity curve and there's a lot of room left on that maturity curve. Jim describes certain aspects of AI, take mergers and acquisitions, where there are mature AI models out there for identifying change and control or identifying assignment rights and those sorts of things. But once you getting into larger, more complex agreements, master service agreements, master hosting agreements, licensing agreements, data processing adenda, et cetera, delivering AI value across those complex agreements is going to be a journey.Jim encourages his clients to think of AI as 'a tremendous assist'. He argues why on earth would you undertake the analysis or review of an agreement without having that assist? "Because we're going to read so many critical parts of the document, and candidly, we're going to unearth a lot more with AI than, than might meet the human eye. And so, so there's a huge, huge assist that's available." Jim teaches a class where he went to law school. He still stays involved in that community. And a big part of what he talks about with his students is ethics. Ten years ago they'd probably have considered what are the ethical implications if you use AI? And now they turn the debate on its head and say, "what are the ethical implications from not using AI?". He goes on to say: "We know you use spellcheck . We know you use red line. We know you want to have searchable text , right? You're going to want to use AI?".Jim feels it no longer makes any sense to undertake the process without the AI, but you do need to recognize that it's an assist. It's not full automation, certainly not full replacement for human review, at least for reviewing an entire agreement end-to-end, word for word on, on every single comma and period that's there.Tune in to hear more.
16 minutes | Nov 19, 2020
Interview with Richard Crabb, Head of Commercial, Tech & Innovation HSBC
HSBC is one of the most complex matrix organizations globally, it is many different businesses rolled into one and inherent in that is of course there is no one size fits all solution. There are different legacy systems being used for different processes. Over recent months SYKE has managed the bank's HighQ implementation, including end to end design and configuration of the platform and integration to other systems.Richard warns against using legal tech in the wrong way. The tech is very powerful. But you should never automate a broken process. In his time at HSBC he’s seen just how important that is.HighQ's no code, user friendly interface and web design makes it a dynamic and easy to deploy solution that sits comfortably alongside HSBC's other internal systems. The clever infrastructure behind the scenes means it can generate powerful insights, with intuitive workflow and elegant UI.Richard is a big big fan of the ‘5 whys’ way of looking at things and reducing the problem down into certain common denominators:Look at what potential solutions are out there that might help solve the problemStart small, keep adding on, fitting in with your plansBe prepared to change as you realize your limitations or discover new opportunities Be prepared to keep on reinventing or redefining the problem Accept there's no magic bullets out there HSBC’s managed legal services and how it handles third-party supply contracts, is a showcase across the legal function. Seven years into the legal tech journey, they have implemented a workflow solution, simple to manage overall process. They focused on third party supply contracts, realizing that there is inherently less operational legal risk in those contracts.They have implemented a triage of high risk, middle and low. Richard believes, and that colleagues can be wowed by tiny noticeable things that you do. His top tips include:Simplicity is the key Be prepared to failSmall successes build trustThese wins help you build a stronger foundation for future success.Tune in to find out more.
12 minutes | Nov 9, 2020
Interview with Sheila Gormley, Co-founder Repstor
This episode I caught up with Sheila Gormley Co-founder and Exec VP Legal Division at Repstor. Repstor says it transforms and simplifies Microsoft 365 Information Management, and specialises in optimising Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams productivity and information control for businesses worldwide. It aims to harness the investment companies have already made in these platforms, and offers them substantial efficiency gains.But Sheila recalls being at a conference about three years ago, where there was incredible reticence among law firms present to move to the cloud. She came away from that session feeling very deflated, that the transition to the cloud it was happening so slowly.Fast forward three years, and OMG! what a difference. It is now a top priority for firms, accelerated by the pandemic. Shelia says that notwithstanding some of the challenges you get around client consent within a law firm environment, she is seeing a huge shift from where people are looking to transition from their legacy platforms onto cloud tech and recognizing the benefits of that.The other key trend Repstor see is consolidation. More and more firms are looking to see how they can leverage the Microsoft platform to deliver that. She describes the Microsoft platform, M365 as having the capability, the security, the scalability, and the functionality, but what it doesn't have out of the box is matter centricity, and the legal know-how, the legal ways of working. And that's what Repstor tries to bring on top of the platform.She feels the pandemic has been biggest accelerator for change. Affordable cloud technology presents a huge opportunity in the market. People are realigning budgets that may have been allocated to property or real estate into their IT budget. Recognizing that they need to adopt cloud technology.The ability to deliver services remotely, to deliver software remotely, without having to be physically on premises with clients has worked incredibly well for Repstor. And they see that trend continuing. Sheila thinks we're at the inflection point where themselves, other companies, clients, everybody has seen that it can work and it can work effectively and efficiently. And while there's always going to be that place for human interaction, it's part of our DNA, it's part of who we are, that we long for that. But, from a technology point of view, we can do a huge amount over the web.Tune in to hear more of what Sheila had to say.
15 minutes | Oct 20, 2020
Interview with Rachel Jacobs, GC Springer Nature
Springer Nature has been on a fascinating legal tech journey over the past 12 months. A relatively small team of four lawyers are now able to focus on doing high value work, as business users self-serve 95% of contracts. Huge savings in time, the equivalent of 50 days saved in the first half of the year alone. Next year Rachel thinks the Contract Express system they've installed will handle more than 300,000 agreements, as more and more of the business move to digital.Her approach was to start small, working with inhouse teams and business users that were ready to make the switch, focusing on quick wins, and capturing the data that helped tell the story of the positive impact the tech was making.She says: "I think that the most important thing is not trying to bite off more than you can chew and just starting with one small thing and choose something that's really relevant for your business, do it in a small way, test it, get feedback, iterate it, and then allow it to grow a little bit and get its own advocates in the business that then help you roll it out rather than trying to come up with an enormous strategy from the very first day. "Rachel chose to start with contracting, with two or three contracts. Contracts that were easily automated, easy to standardize, but would have quite a big impact because they were heavily used. As a result they've significantly reduced the drafting time, for example, for an NDA it is now down to less than 10 minutes.Her advice to other GCs is simple: identify one key pain point and work really hard to understand that. She would also advise engaging a partner to help you. There is so much knowledge on legal tech. You don't have to do it all yourself. Use the benefit of other people's learnings to bring you up up the curve.Rachel started with a survey of her own legal team in terms of looking at pain points. What is it that stops you from going home on time? What are the things that are the most difficult for you to get through during the day? And she also did some testing with the business, with their internal customers as to what their pain points were.She says legal tech has liberated the team. It's enabled Springer's small legal function to do more of the work they enjoy. It's improved service to the business. It's given the legal function real credibility in the business because it now approaches technology and innovation in the same way that other areas of the business do. And it's a really enriching experience, learning a new skill.Tune in to find out more.
15 minutes | Oct 12, 2020
Interview with Don Keller, CEO and Founder Joinder
In this episode I speak to Don Keller, CEO and founder at Joinder.Don is a partner in the Silicon Valley office of Orrick, and a member of the Technology Companies Group. He advises high growth technology companies, public companies, venture capital firms and investment banks. He has advised clients on more than 60 public offerings, 75 acquisition transactions and several hundred venture financings.In recent months he's been helping launch Joinder, which uses machine learning trained by hundreds of Orrick professionals to automatically organize a company’s records and files. It is completely free for Orrick projects, with no limit on the number of users or workrooms. But is now being opened up to other companies and users.As a lawyer, Don has worked on transactions for Google (Nasdaq GS: GOOG), Oracle (Nasdaq GS: ORCL), Tibco (Nasdaq GS: TIBX), Adaptec (Nasdaq GS: ADPT), Shutterfly (Nasdaq GS: SFLY), Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE:MSO), Sum Total Systems (Nasdaq GS: SUMT) and Rambus (Nasdaq GS: RMBS).Hear what Don has to say on the joys of building a start-up company himself as he nears the end of this career in Silicon Valley having spent his working life advising those on the other side!
16 minutes | Oct 9, 2020
Interview with Horace Wu, Managing Director at Syntheia
In this episode I catch up with Horace Wu, Managing Director at Syntheia. Syntheia's mission is to make life easy for lawyers and to help them do their best work. In practice that means Syntheia has designed its software to fit existing workflows. Horace and his team talk to law firms, understand: how are they working today? What is their pain point? And then adapt their software for the law firms in such a way that their lawyers don't have to change how they work in order to take advantage of it. Horace says he is very conscious law firms and corporates already have a technology stack. They already use existing software. So his goal was not to displace and change all of that technology that's in place. But instead to fill the gaps that are left by existing technology, give them the way as access to these useful little tidbits, which they otherwise wouldn't be able to get to, or is really difficult to get to.Tune in to find out more.
17 minutes | Oct 5, 2020
Interview with Matt Peacock, OMC Partners
In this episode, I interview Matt Peacock from OMC Partners. Matt specializes in improving legal operations, and has designed legal strategies and implemented a range of legal delivery models, leveraging his deep experience in legal process redesign, resourcing technology, risk management, and project management. Matt explains the "eye-opening" value doing an MBA has brought to his understanding of change management and explains his reasoning for why we should drop the "legal" in legal tech.He emphasises the importance of (a safe amount of) risk, emphasising that the best lawyers will mitigate risk in new opportunities but will not be afraid to embrace those opportunities because of the risk that accompanies them. We discuss our shared links to Leeds, and how "North shoring" brings big opportunities for innovation. Lastly, he speaks about his wish for more firms to pivot towards fixed-fee pricing for legal tech services, and the importance of letting people work in whichever manner works for them. Tune in to hear more.
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