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Legal Innovators spotlight: Matteo Colonna from Lavazza

Welcome to the Legal Innovators Spotlight, your “How-to” guide for Legal Innovation.

In this first episode we have interviewed Matteo Colonna, Corporate Business Junior Counsel working in the Legal & Corporate Affairs department of Lavazza, the world’s seventh ranking coffee roaster, operating in over 90 countries with more than 20 offices and manufacturing plants in Italy and in the rest of the world.

1: According to Bob Ambrogi, “The best way to be future ready is to not wait until the future to prepare”, what do you think in-house legal teams should be doing, right now, to prepare for the future ready?

MC: Lawyers (and especially in-house lawyers) have often been process-followers. Today (particularly in 2020) considering both the technological and the legal environments and their fast-changing pace, lawyers should become process-leaders.

I believe this is exactly what Ambrogi said, the technological changes in every industry is so quick and disruptive that in order to be efficient and effective (and maybe to exist) in-house lawyers have no chance other than take the lead. A recent Gartner study highlighted that executive General Counsels have a significant impact (89%) on the strategical decisions and processes of their companies.

How to do so? Acting in the present as it was already the future: always being updated on the new trends and approaches in the tech environment, going through the main features of new technologies for understanding their fitting to the legal practices.

In practice, legal departments should set both short-term and mid-long term goals for their technological transformation: adoption of new tools, changing their operations, education of a selected number of internal resources dedicated to spreading knowledge across the team and, most important, fighting conservative approaches and mindsets that may harm the technological transformation.

2: The recent disruption caused by the global pandemic has boosted the transformation process which the legal sector was undergoing driven by changes in the economic landscape and technology shifts. As the legal industry moves forward, the focus will be on the capabilities that can help organization thrive in the new legal landscape, what are the top skills or knowledge that will be essential in order to enable efficient end effective innovation within the legal sector?

MC: I truly believe that today and for the next years, lawyers should restlessly improve knowledge of new technologies moving it from being considered as a soft skill to a core hard skill.

In 2019 University Statale of Milano introduced a new course on “Legal Tech, Coding for lawyer, artificial intelligence and blockchain legal issue” which is quite a interesting news in order to achieve that goal we were talking earlier “leading the processes”. In recent years legal education at universities and law schools has not focused as much as it was necessary on providing law students with proper skills and knowledge about new technologies and the relevant legal issues, as well as their capability to support legal practice and change the legal environment.

Though, tomorrow’s lawyers (including in-house lawyers) will be supposed to handle brand new issues related to new technologies and the digital media and business like in recent years they have had to acquire and improve their complementary cross functional skills such as in finance, marketing or commercial matters.
For instance, if until the early 2000’s lawyers would have been asked to advise their clients on how to start a physical business (e.g. a new retail store), today and especially as consequence of the 2020 pandemic, they would more likely be appointed by new kind of clients in supporting them to start new kind of business (e.g. innovative start-ups willing to open an e-commerce website or develop a blockchain platform for fintech services).

Therefore, lawyers will be called, on the one hand, to develop their knowledge on new legal issues related to the rise of new technologies (which by the way are frequently not specifically regulated); on the other hand, they must become sort of IT experts as they cannot provide good legal services if they do not deeply understand the subject matter.

3: The ability to use technology to optimize performance will be essential to cope with the increasing volume and complexity of information and improve efficiency to enable internal resources to focus on critical activities which require intellectual reasoning. What are the main legal technologies you have used/are planning to use in the future and what is the best way to introduce a new legaltech tool in a legal department?

MC: Focusing on the experience of the Lavazza Group Legal Team, the last decade has brought major innovation to the way we approach our work. The fast-international growth of the Lavazza Group and the massive increase of the data that Lavazza called to process led to the introduction of disruptive technologies on our daily routine.

We moved to a new headquarter (the Nuvola Lavazza) designed to embrace new way of working and equipped with high-end technologies that have deeply impacted the everyday worklife and increased our efficiency. We switched from on premise datacenters to cloud systems, we adopted up to date communication tools and software suites that improve our capacity to work in team on drafting, reviewing and sharing documents, contracts, presentation and legal papers of any sort.

These evolutions enabled the entire team to keep constantly connected and provide legal advice to our internal clients and support the Business at anytime from anywhere. We believe this was not very common in the legal sector even in the most recent years.

We introduced new software and applications which help us to manage corporate governance matters, creating a well-structured worldwide digital repository for properly collecting and storing a huge amount of corporate documents that, in the past, were filed in physical folders stored at the premises of each company belonging to the Group, making them easily available and searchable thanks to OCR and AI systems. Moreover, we dedicated a resource to legal project management (LPMO) which we expect will improve the internal workflows supporting the legal resources conducting their activities during complex projects monitoring the effort required to the legal team, the time needed and the main takeout (Knowledge Management). In order to implement LPMO we are introducing dedicated software and applications allowing us to have a constant, tangible and accurate control over the operations and the efforts required for each project.

In the next future we are planning to increase the level of automation and standardization of the internal practices. For instance, we are working on the scouting and selection of a contract life cycle management application that will facilitate the following activities of negotiation and workflow highlighting the modifications in the document and the different activities carried out by who will take part in the negotiation and creation of the documents also through a useful report of the status of the on-going activities. Through AI and Machine Learning modules, the tool should facilitate the drafting, editing and exchange of documents learning the most common changes in certain cases and proposing solution arising out from preceding documents.

4: Law firms are leveraging technology to better advise and serve their clients, both using and developing ad hoc LegalTech tools tailor made on the specific business needs. Do you think the law firm’s legal technology approach is important and should be taken into consideration when choosing an external advisor?

MC: Basing on our experience and considering the current scenario, some law firms have already understood the huge value the technologies have for their business and in particular to successfully match the requests and expectations from their clients. Law firms that are going to do so will be market-leaders in the next future and we, as client, will address our decision preferring advisors that will bring to our attention their own technological platform, tool or solution able to help us in most of our internal practices.

Richard Susskind – in his book “Tomorrow’s lawyers” – said few years ago: “Lawyers must change the way they provide legal services, they must start selling standard services to clients willing to receive concrete and tangible results with less time and less money”.

This was not exactly true in the past, where the so-called “tailor made” approach adopted by law firms was successful as it meant dedication and focus on the requests made by the single client. Today, both law firms
and in-house departments aim to implement standardized and automated systems in order to focus more on critical activities and bring to their clients (including internal clients) the added-value they are looking for.

More in general, external lawyers (but also in-house lawyers) should increasingly act both as interpreters and translators. Interpreters, as they should be able to communicate with the “digital world” and understand the guiding principles of it. Translators, as they should translate what they have accrued from the “digital world” and make it comprehensible by other lawyers so to bring the legal practices into the next level, embrace the widespread digital transformation and be part of it.

5: Changing the way the legal business is conducted, upgrading the processes and introducing new technology, can be quite of a challenge. What are the biggest barriers to innovation and what is the best approach to win the inner resistance to change?

MC: Lawyers – as any other professional – are naturally skeptical regarding innovation and changes, and this is truer as these changes may jeopardize their job, future or career. But this is not just a psychological issue:
most of the time IT and digital matters seem to be so complex and hard to understand that they turn out to be real barriers, preventing their use in our everyday work-life.
Considering the logics and the policies governing complex organizations, the costs and the general efforts required to implement and adopt large number of new tools and platforms or to implement innovative workflows,
could result in other critical barriers to the digital transformation.

legal innovators spotlight

In the Lavazza Legal department, we started from the goal of superseding the existing digital knowledge-divide among our team.
To do so,
we set up monthly “classes” (so-called “Legal Tech Happy Hour”) during which we introduced and covered topics as IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Legal Tech, Legal Design and so on and so forth.

We also asked for the help of our digital marketing colleagues to briefly introduce digital marketing’s strategies and principles to the legal team. This was amazingly successful, and we realized that all our colleagues were really interested in those matters, they were willing to understand a little bit more about Legal Tech or Artificial Intelligence and that it was not just simple curiosity, it was something they perceived as helpful for improving the way they manage the legal practice.

More in general, we consider spreading the knowledge of new technologies and digital transformation as the starting point on the path getting us to build a legal team that is actually prepared for the challenges of the
digital era, able to understand the new languages and translate all of that into the traditional legal language (that after all still governs our practice).

At the end of the day, we envisage a legal team able to look at the
future with less worries and more skills.

If lawyers really want to write the future of the legal practice and they don’t want to leave the full floor to technicians, coders, programmers etc., they have (all of them have, in-house lawyers, law firms, law schools,
professors etc.) to start developing a new legal culture, grounded also on the understanding of digital and technological matters.

If you enjoyed this episode of Legal Innovators Spotlight, share it and come back for another insightful post on TechnoLawgy.

LegalTech after Covid: predictions for 2020 Q3 & Q4

Law firms and companies’ legal departments are rushing to adopt new technologies and build new legacy systems at such a fast pace that many lawyers and practices are being left behind. The second half of 2020 might be the tipping point of the legal tech industry, also taking into consideration the recent boost to remote working and digital tools brought by the health emergency. We may finally experience changes that will forever transform the practice of law and the delivery of legal services. Here are my LegalTech after Covid predictions for 2020 Q3 & Q4.

LegalTech after covid

1.    The Darwinian dilemma “evolutions vs. extinction”

The legal sector is preparing for a significant transformation. Increasing client demands, information complexity, and technology advancements are pressing attorneys to master technical skills and adopt new and powerful tools for the benefit of clients.

Artificial intelligence, algorithms, machine learning, and human-machine interaction are just a few of the new realities that the legal profession is facing. While the advent of new technologies with a highly disruptive effect can sometimes be perceived as a constraint, at the same time it is also a tremendous opportunity for lawyers.

The success of “alternative legal service providers” (i.e., legal services that are delivered via a model that departs from the traditional law firm delivery model, for example, by using contract lawyers, process mapping, or Web-based technology) proves that market expectations are changing and that IT needs to be used to meet new demands.

Using technology in an effective manner in order to deliver efficiencies and increase the potential value added for customers is becoming more relevant as a differentiating factor in winning clients.

LegalTech after covid will move from hype to reality. A growing number of innovative legal service providers will focus on a wide range of inefficiencies, adding value to the legal ecosystem by improving legal and business processes (e.g., the contracting process) and meaningfully integrating legal technology to permit more efficient “data-driven” legal and business workflow management.

To survive, forward-thinking lawyers will need to invent a new way of delivering legal services, focusing on client-centricity by combining legal-design skills to build easy-to-use solutions while ensuring their unbeatable legal competence and professional ethics.

2.    Access to justice will be more and more digitalized 

LegalTech after covid

The legal sector is quickly moving to embrace digital transformation and leaning towards innovation, as the opportunity to improve customer services, drive productivity and achieve interoperability can no longer be ignored. In 2019 investments in legal technology reached unexpected levels worldwide.

At the same time, we are more than far from pointing to an existing taxonomy or the legislative categorization of disciplines within legal tech. Law-making has turned into a fast, digital, innovative process.

To date, law firms and legal professionals are acting at a steady pace and are certainly well ahead on this two-speed journey. Consumers can rely upon a plethora of existing law-tech solutions which promise to increase the accessibility of legal tools to make legal services progressively more affordable to businesses and individuals.

Access to justice in the digital era is indeed marked by increasing creativity. Legal tech tools leveraging technology, data, and user-centered design approaches to develop solutions have widely reached consumers’ needs.

Much work has been carried out to reduce burdens of legal proceedings, and many online dispute resolution platforms will move a step further towards less utopian implementation of virtual courts. These courts enable access to justice without setting foot in a courthouse. Online dispute resolution platforms – where agreements are virtually reached and ratified by courts via an online portal – are already going viral in the UK and US and will sooner or later land in EU.

Time will reveal whether the legal sector is ready to challenge new questions arising from such digital freedom in accessing justice.

3.    Automation will become a timesaver and a risk-mitigator

LegalTech after covid

Automation technologies, based on the combination of machine learning, text processing, and industry statistics to measure the efficiency of specific legal issues, have been slowly adopted by law firms through the years.

In 2020 we will continue witnessing significant growth in the use of practice-management applications among legal professionals. At the same time, we are already seeing these applications changing the trajectory of their development. Narrowly focusing on core practice management, some disruptive new technologies are seeking to become more extensive in order to provide integrated tools and services that should serve as a junction for all functions within a law practice.

AI and Blockchain are already leveraging many years of experience gained in creating legal document templates, and contract management sector has matured significantly. Many legal knowledge fields have been enriched by means of document automation, achieving the solid use of machine learning to analyze, identify, and review legal documents.

But there is more to this. Tools enabling law firms to simplify, through automated solutions, the length, and complexity of the creation process of legal documents will become quite spread globally.

It’s all about optimizing efforts while improving the efficiency and client/attorney relationships within each law firm and improving clients’ intake from the firm. This scenario is already happening, and such phenomenon will most certainly grow, encompassing legal technologies that will snip and fix law firms’ and companies’ needs, by making the same data-driven platforms and services contemporarily available to lawyers and in-house counsels.

New frontiers of the marketplace will meaningfully increase connections between clients and lawyers to raise legal awareness from both sides, to understand and exercise legal rights and obtain successful outcomes. The need for quick and easy legal transactions will become more urgent until self-executing legal agreements finally breakthrough in the legal scene.

The hope is for automation to likely turn into the fingerprint of professional legal services, so as contacts, documents, and files will slowly become more and more cloud-based. Indeed, by moving their infrastructure to a cloud service provider, firms can rest assured that their data is physically secured, backed-up in multiple offsite locations, and most likely protected in case of a violation.

4. Customer-centric legal developement

Undisputedly, legal tech tools are becoming exponentially customer-centric, and this will mark one of the most significant success factors in 2020. Technology-driven tools will significantly provide information and guidance in making legal support quickly available and will expand lawyers’ work through automation and platforms, thus reducing costs and increasing accessibility.

Law firms and corporate legal departments are increasingly experimenting legal tech tools, recognizing the potential of new business models to transform the industry and engage with innovative service providers to develop collaborative solutions for clients.

With no doubt, legal technological solutions will be “epidemic” in Q3&Q4 2020. However, inescapable risks are around the corner, such as the liability of law-tech and AI tools when facing the connatural lack of infallibility.

LegalTech checklist

If you wish to know more about LegalTech applications and use cases, or if you wish to access our Checklist for market-driven LegalTech tools development, please contact me at tommaso.ricci@dlapiper.com.

You may also like this post on #LegalTech: How Legal Technology will disrupt the way lawyers work day by day ?

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