Technology: the good, the bad and the ugly—A panel discussion

Technology: the good, the bad and the ugly—A panel discussion

At the recent The Lawyer In-house as Business Partner conference, in-house leaders came together to discuss the benefits, challenges and opportunities involved in implementing technology. Led by Sophie Gould, Head of In-house, LexisNexis; Schroders’ Head of Operations, Fiona Robb; Shire Head of Legal Strategy Claire Debney; LexisNexis Engagements Manager Ann Hemming; and Vodafone Head of Legal Operations Amy McConnell the panel discussed findings from the recently published report, Legal Technology—Looking Past the Hype—in which 130 in-house counsel were surveyed to explore in-house lawyers’ attitudes to legal technology and how legal departments are actually using and benefiting from technology.

At the heart of the debate was the acknowledgement that technology is impacting all aspects of legal work and is providing in-house teams with the opportunity to demonstrate their value more effectively. From offering online self-service for more routine work, through to better management and work allocation tools, technology offers a way to provide increased collaboration and facilitate better business decisions. This was very much reflected in some of the key findings of the report which revealed that 57% of general counsels believe that technology investments have already increased their efficiency.

However, the report also highlighted that 47% of general counsels find demonstrating ROI on technology investments challenging. The discussion echoed this sentiment highlighting how gaining buy-in is no easy task and cannot be achieved by simply implementing new technology. Practical tips for success shared included how business wide engagement is key to the success of any new technology. Indeed, the cultural change required to truly embed new technologies into the business is not to be underestimated. It is important that any project has agreed success criteria, a sound business case, recognises the importance of engaging with end users and is upheld by strong champions for change. New technology brings with it the need for building a multi-skilled project team and always keeping the end user experience in mind. The panel also discussed what impact technology would have on the size and make-up of the legal team in the future, the consensus being that managing change brought about by technology would be a constant, but that the opportunities for the in-house team were high.

Watch the video of the panel discussion below:

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About the author:

Sophie is Head of Learning & Development at F-LEX Legal - an award winning legal tech startup helping law firms and organisations manage a flexible work force and supporting lawyers to make smarter life/work choices. 

As part of her portfolio career Sophie runs various learning and development and networking forums for in-house lawyers and mentors junior lawyers.  These include Flying Solo for small and solo legal teams and Aspire for junior in-house lawyers which she runs for LexisNexis UK.  She also works with schools and organisations to promote social mobility within the legal profession, working with The Social Mobility Business Partnership and Aspiring Solicitors. 

She trained as a lawyer in the City and worked as an in-house lawyer for 10 years including as Head of Legal for Virgin Radio and Ginger Media Group.  

Outside of work she is happily married with three sons and enjoys morning walks along the beach with her two dogs.