Kickstart your digital transformation without breaking the bank

There are a great range of new tools and technologies available to lawyers. We’re being exhorted to “innovate or die”. But some law firms and in-house legal teams haven’t even begun to think about the benefits that technology can bring to their practices. This may be due to lack of time. It may be due to lack of budget. But often, it is due to not knowing where to start.

But starting doesn’t have to be hard, time-consuming, or cost a lot of money. You can start your digital transformation for a few hundred dollars and with just a few hours of work.

This article was published in the Law Society’s LawTalk magazine on 30 June 2017. Read the full article here.

The "modular" General Counsel

The role of an in-house counsel is a busy one. On any given day we can find ourselves dispensing legal advice, certifying documents, finding templates, managing contractual obligations, proofreading that really important paper for the Board/Minister, or just providing general reassurance. Think then of the poor General Counsel who supervises all of that, brings her or his expert legal judgement on the most difficult legal problems, attends the highest echelons of internal meetings, and deals with all those pesky internal budgetary things.

The role of the General Counsel is now simply too large with too many components for one person to do justice to them all. We recommend that (too) busy identify the various functions or “modules” they’re currently performing for their organisation. Which require the General Counsel’s personal input? Which are the General Counsel’s areas of strength, weakness and interest? And once that’s done – perhaps more importantly – we recommend that General Counsel formulate a realistic expectation of what can actually be achieved in a working week. Any modules remaining should be delegated to team members with appropriate skill sets to complement those of the General Counsel.

This article was published in the Law Society’s LawTalk magazine on 4 May 2018. Read the full article here.

Changing the legal profession - a personal view

The recent New Zealand Law Society survey results on the legal profession make very grim reading. Nearly a third of female lawyers have been sexually harassed. Half of all lawyers have been bullied. Well over half of all lawyers rate their job as very stressful.

I am a white, male, middle class, approaching 40, heterosexual lawyer. I pretty much tick every "non diversity" box imaginable. Statistically, I am more likely to be part of the problem than the solution. But while homophily is part of the reason our profession is in its current state, sometimes it can be a force for good as well. If more white, male, middle class, approaching 40, heterosexual lawyers change their behaviours, speak out, and step up, homophily should help those changed behaviours spread through the rest of our colleagues.

This article sets out some of my personal thoughts about changing the profession.

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Risk and significance heatmap reporting

In-house lawyers often prepare internal reports outlining legal risks using a variant of the traffic light system. But these reports often do not get to the heart of why something is rated red or otherwise “risky”. Are they the issues with the highest legal risk? Or just the ones that have the highest level of interest? What do we even mean by legal risk? The issues that are most likely to cost us money? The court cases we’re most likely to lose? Or the ones that would have the biggest impact if we did lose?

This blog posts considers the use of heatmap reporting to better highlight the types and levels of legal risk facing an organisation, and includes a free automated excel template for this type of report.

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It’s been a while since I updated the site. The next few posts will all be republications of work that was previously published elsewhere; I have suppressed email updates for each individual article re-posted but can’t do the same for RSS subscribers. You can safely ignore these if you’ve read the original article or post elsewhere.

In defence of lawyers that aren't legal tech-ing

There are some great legal tech products currently on the market. But lawyers aren’t exactly hammering down the gates demanding to buy. Is it because all lawyers are luddites that can’t see the self-obvious benefits of doing things better? Do they really have no time or money to consider their options? Are lawyers the last bastion firmly holding the line against the Robot Apocalypse? I am increasingly beginning to suspect that it may just be a case of “too much, too soon”. Legal tech is off running while lawyers are still learning to walk in our techno-revolutionary age. Legal tech may well be an easier sell if targeted at solving immediate, day-to-day issues facing lawyers, rather than promising to fundamentally change the way legal services are provided and consumed.

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Cloud Lawyering 2: the Return of the Cloud

What can you do to make your email communications "more secure"? It depends on what you mean by "secure". Information security (InfoSec) is about more than just confidentiality! This post considers InfoSec risks in the context of a fairly routine email exchange between Lenny the lawyer and Carl the client. It makes some simple suggestions to address the various InfoSec risks and make their communications more secure.

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Example user stories for in-house lawyers

I've earlier posted about the lawyers using user stories to communicate with technical audiences. Following on from that post, below are some example user stories for in-house lawyers. I've adapted these from some presentations I gave in late 2015. Clearly the user stories below are not exhaustive and will not capture many of the unique elements that make up your practice. But I hope they will be a useful starting point for you.

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