Barclays Ventures’ LawTech director Chris Grant explains how firms could work together to bring solutions to the table, as part of the Business Leadership Series.
How can law firms best harmonise lawyers and technology?
This is a challenge that has been raging for some time and there is no magic formula for making it happen. Many will talk about the need for a seamless integration of technology (everything needs to be done in Word!); others suggest that lawyers need to be ‘given time’ or ‘taken on the journey’ to feel as though they have been part of the adoption process. It’s also hard to forget the past, everyone has a war story of tech not quite meeting up to expectations. But there is a bigger piece to be considered. Are we doing enough to create an environment that encourages/rewards innovation and the adoption of new technology? Allowing time for people to embrace technology, and allow for full implementation? We have struggled with rushed rollouts that have been far from perfect and project teams that vanish as soon as the tools are released. We need to embrace product lifecycles, and see technology as part of the legal DNA. Something you continually review and improve upon.
From a client perspective, what areas would you like to see law firms collaborate on?
This could definitely go on for a lot more than 60 seconds! There are many opportunities for collaboration, what I would like to see is firms working on solutions that would have the biggest positive impact on the industry and their clients. There are challenges that we all experience and could easily be addressed by bringing together a diverse group with a range of expertise to overcome these challenges at pace.
Barclays recently held an innovation consortium with their key firms, what was the outcome of this? Is this something that we should see more of from businesses?
The consortium was focused on trying to solve challenges that our own legal function was facing, work streams emerged which focused on the real estate financing process; M&A transaction management; litigation workflow; and law firm horizon scanning. Potential solutions were found against all of these and are being taken forward. The biggest success of the exercise however, was seeing our firms truly collaborate and work as one. In the final presentation, you could not tell which lawyer came from which firm, they were all just part of a ‘consortium team’ alongside our own lawyers.
It is something we should see more of; firms working together can share risk and share cost to bring solutions to the table. The cohort from the consortium have already moved on to take on another problem recently and have been working as a team in the Global Legal Hackathon.
What do you love most about your job?
Being able to work with people who are excited about the future of the industry and who are thinking about how we can revolutionise the way we do things. We are barely scraping the surface of what is possible in LawTech. Particularly when it comes to access to justice, there is so much more that we can do!