In an exclusive Q & A with Legalwise Insights, Jodie Baker, Founder & Group CEO of Xakia Technologies, discusses Legal Technology and the role it plays in In-House internal efficiency. Want to hear more? You can hear Jodie speak at the upcoming ‘Innovate Your Legal Practice: Key Tools and Processes‘ programme Live Online on Tuesday 15th of March 2022.
Historically, a Legal Department’s access to Legal Technology has meant only the largest and most sophisticated groups have had the flashiest tools, while the smallest teams have made do with spreadsheets and rudimentary workarounds. For years, legal technology was inaccessible or unaffordable for all but the largest corporate legal teams or law firms. It took a big budget to not only pay for the technology itself but also:
- the consulting costs for deployment;
- custom buildouts to integrate with internal systems; and
- hosting, updates, and maintenance costs.
The arrival of cloud-based software is changing all of that: we are on the cusp of a true “democratisation” of LegalTech that will expand access to even one-lawyer Legal Departments. For the majority of in-house teams across Australia and New Zealand that are managing workloads and reporting through spreadsheets, Word documents, or worse, their own memories, this will present a fundamental change and an evolution toward increased efficiency and effectiveness.
What are some of the key trends, processes, or tools increasing in-house internal efficiency right now?
With democratisation of LegalTech in mind, the biggest trend across in-house legal teams right now is the adoption of some of the most foundational pieces of legal software – document management and matter management. Even for teams who are utilising SharePoint for the first time, they are putting in place structures and protocols for use to enable teams to locate and leverage knowledge faster than ever before.
For those using matter management for the first time, they are moving beyond spreadsheets and buying off-the-shelf tools that allow them to track their work, improve visibility across their team, and reduce time lost in repetition and missing deadlines.
How similar or different are the in-house automation trends in Australia and New Zealand? Any insights or takeaways from your Australian clients in contrast to your New Zealand clients?
New Zealand is only a hot second behind Australia on most legal automation trends, and Australia a hot second behind the U.S. in this space. When we consider that the technology tools can be accessed from anywhere and at costs that scale up or down, location does not present any meaningful barrier (location hosting may be the exception to this for government clients). Accordingly, the only noticeable difference between Australian and New Zealand in-house legal teams compared with their global peers is in the rate of take-up due to education about the tools available and the efficiency gains to be made through their adoption.
Five years ago, Australia started on its legal operations journey, and – if we take the question about key trends above – most of them have now laid those foundational tools of document and matter management and are moving on to legal intake, automating their legal reporting and tracking spend in real-time. These tools are well and truly in the adoption stage in global markets, specifically North America.
Are there any issues that might be coming up in this area that you think practitioners should keep on their radar?
Four key trends continue to surface amongst our most progressive clients globally: real-time collaboration with their internal clients and external law firms; automation of document assembly and other self-help tools; and a more sophisticated understanding of legal data analytics.
Jodie is an innovator, entrepreneur, and advocate of LegalTech. Her passion to give in-house counsel greater visibility and control to their legal operations is the driving force behind Xakia, a seriously simple, in-house legal matter management platform – a ‘Legal Hub’ for connected and impactful teams of any size or industry, located anywhere. Jodie has a background as an in-house lawyer and financial analyst, was the architect, founder, and MD of Hive Legal, and a founding member and the immediate past-Chair of the Australian Legal Technology Association. You can find Jodie on LinkedIn or the Xakia website.