In-house legal leaders have been advised by private practice lawyers specialising in legal innovation to put their firms under the microscope when it comes to better utilising legal operations.
Speaking at the panel session ’Advancing Law Department Excellence with the Use of Legal Operations’ at the second day of the Women Influence and Power in Law conference, Addleshaw Goddard head of innovation and technology Kerry Westland said that in-house leaders must question their external counsel “if you want to see law firms change” and offer better services.
Westland said clients can drive the most significant change in how traditional law firms engage with the topic, adding “we see much more traction from lawyers internally when clients push it and are engaged.”
In the panel at the two-day conference, Westland and fellow panellist Travers Smith head of dispute resolution legal operations Emma Reynolds discussed the topic with Laura Martin, Conga’s customer success director.
The trio shared many tips on how legal technology can be implemented in both private practice and in-house teams, and argued that buy-in is key from senior business figures including senior stakeholders, board members and general counsel.
Reynolds added that “translators” for tech issues are also important: “If lawyers don’t understand what [the legal tech] is and the problem it’s solving in two minutes then you’ve got a problem. People will still grumble about getting up to speed.”
However, those grumbles are expected to wane as the next generation of lawyers are more likely to embrace legal operations and tech in all forms. The panel expected junior lawyers who are less tech-sceptical to usher in significant change in legal ops.
Legal operations and technology have been increasingly rising on agendas of private practice firms and in-house teams alike. Last year a number of firms made progressive steps with Slaughter and May launching a new graduate scheme for its legal operations practice, whilst Herbert Smith Freehills set up a global graduate training scheme aimed at people wanting a career in legal operations.