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Legal Innovators spotlight: Giovanni Spiller from ARGeo

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

Dear TechnoLawgists, it’s been a tough year, but we made it so far, and now more than ever we can all appreciate the importance of building resilience through our best weapon: an innovation oriented mindset to overcome difficulties ahead and get better day by day.

Therefore, to kickstart this new year the best way possible, we have interviewed Giovanni Spiller, who combines he’s legal knowledge with entrepreneurial expertise to lead digital companies through the innovation path. Giovanni is a lawyer and co-founder & Legal Affairs manager of ARGeo, a company providing augmented reality services for proximity marketing and DATAZ, a digital company focused on advertising, digital marketing and IT solutions development.

TL: 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 being future ready?

GS: In-house legal teams should start to build an internal culture where they proactively contribute to company objectives, driving and impacting strategic direction. In my perspective, in house legal might be called to become a kind of “commercial” players, as well as enablers which informs key business decisions. Moreover, I really support that idea that in-house teams should abandon the base assumption that every member must be a fully qualified lawyer or even have a strong legal background. As we can see in the current legaltech trend, most of the legal innovators did not even attend law schools. I guess that integrating new members with different knowledge and expertise can add a lot of value into an in-house team, as well as take into account the opportunity of opening a door for ALSP professionals.

The in-house counsel is a strategic player

TL: 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?

A lean legal innovation process is needed

GS: In my opinion, the legal industry should start to adopt a lean attitude for bringing innovation in law firms or in-house practices. With lean method I mean a process of innovation based on frequent and quick test to validate a possible solution. In this way, we can verify if a new tool or approach actually solve a current problem or not. Of course, the crucial point is to collect as much feedback as you can from the final beneficiary, which can be identified with classical client or other department colleagues (in case of in-house scenario). I retain the lean approach very effective both in terms of quickness of results as well as impact on cost bottom line.

TL: 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?

legal innovators spotlight
legal tech tools will not replace intellectual work

GS: In my working experience, I used an automatic tool that creates a first advanced draft of a specific agreement. Then, we worked on that draft to refine and customize all the critical aspects. This process allowed us to cut down cost and time in a first phase, then, of course, the reviewing of some clauses where made by a (human) professional. I think that maybe the best way to introduce legaltech tools in general is make clear to everybody that the professional/intellectual contribute is not dead, but now it is going to be integrated with an automatic workflow process which can gives better outcome in an efficient way.  

TL: One of the hardest challenges brought by the GDPR, is making sure that compliance procedures are well known and efficiently applied at all levels. Delivering training courses and running simulations and tests, may not bring the expected results. Imagine having a tool which enables each employee to easily access the information they need and helps them to rapidly understand how to apply the appropriate piece of knowledge to their specific situation. Do you think that such tool would benefit the effective implementation of organizational measures within an organization? What feature would be the most important?

GS: Indeed, such a tool will be very useful in make people more comfortable while handling GDPR relevant information. In my opinion, we have to focus our analysis more on the tool’s process design, rather than the functions included, which can be at any time added or removed. This means that if we aim to deliver a real effective tool, we have to proceed by involving all the final users in the design process as well as during the pilot test of each version released. The relevant functions, and their structure, will come out during the test phases

TL: 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?

GS: I think that the legal business is one of the hardest to change basically due to the long historical tradition which surrounds this profession. That is why, I retain that the first barrier in changing law firm is the big legacy they bear, which informs a forma mentis that, unlucky, most of the time forces to look at the past rather than the future and, as a result, it does not allow (sometimes really obstacles) a natural progress flow.

legal innovation

Secondly, I feel like that most lawyers are quite afraid of a broad use of technology in general, as they perceived it as something out of their control, which can end up in a job replacing scenario. Honestly, is not clear to me how to inner the natural resistance to change in this particular field nor I have a quick solution in my pocket.

Maybe, but just maybe, the major law firms and company should seriously start adopting a so called “innovation unit” within their offices, which through a series of activities and little-by-little changes, could revise the general approach in the next, hopefully, few years

If you enjoyed this episode of Legal Innovators Spotlight, share it and come back for another insightful post on TechnoLawgy. You may also like our previous interview with Matteo Colonna from Lavazza