Earlier this year Lara Oyesanya joined Swedish bank Klarna from Barclays, where she served as senior legal counsel since 2010.

Ahead of her session at the In-house Financial Services Conference, Lara talks to The Lawyer about the legal challenges of digital innovation and the way in which technology is transforming the in-house lawyer’s relationship with external counsel.

What legal challenges are brought forward by digitalisation?

Lara Oyesanya
Lara Oyesanya

Algorithms and Applied Programming Interfaces (APIs) are at the heart of digitalisation. With the continued development of artificial intelligence (i.e. algorithms with learning capabilities), there will be more legal challenges to address.

Will AI function within current legal frameworks, do we actually know how it will function to properly assess legal risks, is monitoring required to ensure due legal process? There are then ongoing discussions around data, information and cyber security. Another pressing issue is the appropriate deployment of digital legal tools exploiting big data analytics, which adhere to evolving legal frameworks and safeguard both citizens’ rights and national security.

This needs to be balanced against the need to create a regulatory environment that does not stifle digital innovation. Fair competition needs to be maintained in the digital economy as new technologies and platforms are developed. Doing so will reduce the likelihood that digital monopolies form, which could slow innovation down. It is important that all the participants of this economy get the same opportunity to create value and to earn profits from doing so.

How do you think technology will transform the in-house lawyer’s relationship with external counsel?

Hugely transformational! Most in-house lawyers will have seen the improvements their businesses have undertaken to achieve best-in-class delivery of products and services, thereby enhancing customer experience and engagement. These improvements have been driven by technology and, will have had an impact on costs making the business more efficient and productive. Naturally, there will be high expectations on in-house lawyers to achieve similar improvements in one of the areas of greatest cost – the engagement of external counsel.

Such improvements can range from the methods of instructing to the delivery of advice for administrative work or indeed for some work that trainee solicitors undertake. External counsel is expected to deploy technology when billing, undertaking research, drafting, execution and reporting.

Where such deployment does not occur, external counsel is at a risk of being noncompetitive both in terms of the acquisition of new clients and retention of existing ones. This would, no doubt, threaten the sustainability of such external counsel. Flexible / dynamic working is gaining ground with external counsel because of fast reliable technology which would enable them to reduce their infrastructure costs; the benefits of which they can then pass on to their clients in order to remain competitive.

If you could have dinner with one person who would it be?

Barack Obama, the former president of the United States of America. I follow American politics because the majority of my family are American citizens. It was quite notable for me that Barack was the only candidate in my memory (pre – and post elections as well as during his term in office) that did not have any reported personal scandals. I would want to know how he managed to be so squeaky clean!

Barack also appeared to be quite measured in his communications even in the face of provocation; he was always so disciplined. I would want to know his secrets as they are worthy of emulation. Communication is a very important part of being a good leader which, I aspire to be.

Lara Oyesenya is one of the 30+ speakers making up this year’s speaker line-up at The Lawyer’s In-house Financial Services Conference on 4 July 2018. For more information on the conference, a copy of the agenda, or to inquire about attending, please contact Kenan Balli on +44(0) 20 7970 4017.