Enhancing Productivity of Lawyers with Technology
Vimaljit Kaur is Senior Legal Counsel at an energy company in Singapore, and a major part of her work entails M&A projects in the energy sector. Additionally, she is involved in process management and improvement within the legal team. She was previously in private practice (7 years) working on regulatory, technology and foreign investment-related matters.
How has your profession evolved over the past 5 years?
Expectations of and from legal professionals are changing very quickly. The content has become more globalized, and it is important to be proficient not just in the laws and practices in the jurisdictions you are qualified in but also in other jurisdictions. We have to deliver the same quality of work, in international environments we are much less familiar with.
What are the main challenges for a lawyer in your field?
As in-house counsel, we rely on external counsel to assist us with the heavy lifting for projects.
Proper project management plays a key role in the success of a project. Finding the right team of external counsel to work with is the first step in achieving this. Having tools to connect with and to follow up with the team is the second one.
Finally, being able to check and monitor how many hours the external counsel has clocked is very important. This has traditionally not been an area of focus in the legal sphere and lawyers find this administrative work very tedious, but luckily several companies have now come up with tools to help us with this. I have experimented with project management platforms such as Trello (www.trello.com), and use team communication platforms such as Slack (www.slack.com). What would be useful is to have client-lawyer interface platforms such as Quesmi (www.quesmi. com), in order to help us connect with lawyers and better perform the project management and monitoring function.
Has the adoption of Legal Software helped you so far?
I found the Legal Tech scene is very divided in terms of maturity. Software for practice management, eDiscovery, etc. have been around for quite a while and are helpful. In contrast, new technologies such as AI are still some way off of the field I am in. New software that are helpful are software that apply mature technology to rising issues we face, such as project client - law firm intake and management.
How about IT security, is it a priority?
IT security is very important, for everyone and every business, not just for lawyers. Since many big companies have already moved to the cloud, a set of best practices, have already been developed. As a lawyer, we have to rely on those to guarantee maximum security of our data.
What would be your advice to lawyers and legal tech companies?
To legal technology companies - A better understanding of the legal work and environment would definitely break a few barriers to adoption. The legal profession is a very specific profession, and every area of practice has on top its own specific needs. It is also a high-intensity profession. It is required of software to be fully customized to our profession in order to be helpful.
To lawyers - Technology really can help us improve our productivity and quality of service, whether you are practicing in a law firm or working in-house. I have set myself an objective to experiment with a few technology tools each year, and I would encourage other lawyers to do the same.