Event: Legal Tech Seminar: The Modern Law Firm: Operations, Clients & Recognising by University of South Carolina School of Law 

Date: 20 October 2021 

Time: 5:30 PM IST

Mode: Online 

Costs: $28.16 (single ticket)

Event Overview: 

The practice of law, like other industries and the rest of the world, is changing quickly, even more so in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. This presentation will look at shifting the legal practice to a more client-focused business, implementing technology into firms that allow for ease of access by clients.

Technology and cloud-based data storage are not only helpful, but this presentation will also address potential ethical violations that may arise with the failure of a firm to keep up with technology, resist going paperless and fail to take seriously and employ third party help in the proper management of client data.

Speakers: 

  • Douglas Kim, Esq., Partner & Founder, Kim & Lahey Law Firm
  • Rob Moser, COO of DartPoints

Registration Link: Click here 

 

Job Opening: Agoda 

Role: Legal Operations Manager 

Location: Bangkok (Relocation provided)

PQE: 5-8 years 

About the company: 

Agoda is an online travel booking platform for accommodations, flights, and more. We build and deploy cutting-edge technology that connects travelers with more than 2.5 million accommodations globally. Based in Asia and part of Booking Holdings, our 4,000+ employees representing 90+ nationalities foster a work environment rich in diversity, creativity, and collaboration. We innovate through a culture of experimentation and ownership, enhancing the ability for our customers to experience the world.

The Opportunity:

As a member of Agoda’s in-house legal department, you will be responsible for the strategy, leadership and management of Legal Operations. In this role you will have two direct reports (as of now) and you will report directly to Agoda’s Associate General Counsel. This role is key for ensuring that the Legal Operations works efficiently, proactively and effectively with other stakeholders, and allocates and deploys budget, time and technology impactfully. You will be an effective and accurate manager of the Legal budget and forecasting. You should demonstrate a mindset of continuous improvement and its implementation and, using of data and metrics, provide insight into operations. You will lead Legal Operations in successful and always-improving collaborative working with the rest of the Agoda Legal Department (based in Bangkok but with international coverage in other locations) to ensure and be part of the department’s and Agoda’s overall success.

This position is open to both local and international candidates with relocation support available for eligible candidates to help ensure a smooth transition to working and living in Bangkok. Given the COVID-19 landscape and travel restrictions, relocation date is flexible and a remote start may be possible.

Responsibilities: 

  • Support the General Counsel, Legal Leadership team and the Legal Department as a whole with strategic planning for the function: supporting by identifying, articulating and mapping strategic goals and objectives, aligning with different functions within the business, and tracking against them throughout the year, demonstrating ownership by holding the leadership team accountable for achieving them
  • Support different processes insofar as they impact the Legal Operations;
  • Help to raise the profile of the Legal Operations within Agoda and improve communication initiatives between the team and the wider Agoda business. This includes understanding how the Legal Operations can continue to align as closely as possible with the business, and partner seamlessly with others;
  • Keep thorough, organized and accessible records relating to vendor management, budget/spend and travel and expenses;
  • Remain aware of legal operations industry trends, and identify opportunities to improve processes, share best practices, develop playbooks, training and improve efficiency with the Legal Department;
  • Proactively seek out opportunities to improve and enhance the legal/admin process, documentation and systems; and
  • Support ad hoc requests for the Legal Department

Requirements

  • Experience in having worked in an in-house legal environment within a legal operations team;
  • 5 – 8 years’ experience as a legal operations manager, or comparable legal administration and/or management;
  • 3 years’ recognized people management experience;
  • Ability to clearly, fluently and effectively speak and write in English;
  • Experience utilizing data and metrics, as well as superior skills presenting them in different formats like graphs, tables, trends or PowerPoint;
  • Ability to manage, coach and develop in a culturally diverse team;
  • Excellent organizational skills, demonstrable ownership and accountability with the ability to delegate effectively and to manage projects in a fast-paced environment;
  • Ability to manage a budget and forecasting; and
  • Desire to innovate and drive change: experiment and measure
  • Experience working in APAC and/or other highly diverse and multi-cultural environments;
  • Superior organizational skills, extraordinary attention to detail, and a mindset that processes can always be improved;
  • Experience of using tools to measure and analyze data; and
  • A passion for legal operations (and enjoying working closely with a variety of legal professionals)

Application Link: Click here

Job Opening: Klarity

Klarity helps Revenue Accounting and Billing teams to automate their contract review and accounting documentation process.
Role: Operations Head 

Location: Bengaluru, Karnataka 

Responsibilities: 

  • Managing Klarity’s Legal Team, currently composed of 14 stellar lawyers, most of whom hold several degrees, including from top Indian and European Law Schools.
  • Using Analytics and internal tools to ensure quality and speed.
  • Working directly with customers alongside the CEO and CTO.
  • Working closely with the product team to design and deploy new internal tools.

Requirements: 

  • Are passionate about commercial contracts.
  • Excellent management skills with a non-hierarchical, inclusive leadership style.
  • Excellent communication, presentation and interpersonal skills.
  • Prior experience working with contracts.
  • A law degree is NOT necessary.
  • Strong work ethic and ability to operate with high velocity.
  • High Technical Aptitude with an eye for product design and automation.

Application Link: Click here

Job Opening: Glenmark Pharma 

Role: Legal Operations Manager 

Location: Mumbai 

PQE: 3+ years 

Education: BS or BA

Responsibilities: 

– Oversee strategy for the legal department to ensure operational efficiency
– Set specific quarterly and annual goals and initiatives for the legal department
– Take charge of all change management planning and communication
– Assess and make purchasing decisions for legal technology software and tools
– Supervise spend management and handle budget and resource allocation accordingly
– Develop and implement internal process guidelines, templates, and workflows
– Report on key operational and substantive metrics for the Legal department for better inform decision-making, including matter and work product analyses
– Identify opportunities to streamline processes and use the legal department budget more efficiently
– Develop and enforce processes and policies to manage outside counsel usage and spend
– Develop reports and processes to monitor processes, and spend throughout the legal department
– Present data to the general counsel that explains, categorizes, and justifies legal department spend
– Assist with budget matters and optimizing workflows within the legal department
– Create legal billing guidelines and manage billing matters
– Identify and implement legal department digital solutions/tools to streamline new or existing practices, as well as managing design, rollout, and training for new systems
– Provide technical and training support for new legal department hires
– Collaborate with cross-functional teams as well as various business units

Knowledge: 

– Prior experience developing playbooks and policies
– Demonstrated ability to independently move projects forward by gaining the support needed from others while working in a cross-functional role
– Proven track record of collaborating with groups (e.g., finance, operations, sales, IT) to set objectives and produce meaningful results
– Strong experience in developing, implementing, and using legal department technology solutions (e.g., e-Billing and matter management, IP management, DocuSign e-signature, e-learning solutions, hotline management solutions, etc.)
– Experience with legal analytics and legal terminology
– Proficient in business applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel, document management systems, and legal enterprise software
– Ability to work with multiple data sets in order to make informed recommendations; experience with business intelligence tools is preferred
– Demonstrated ability to use change management practices to facilitate transitions related to technology and processes
– Excellent analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills
– Able to thrive in a fast-paced environment and successfully manage multiple deadlines

Application Link: Click here

 

 

 

Legal Operations (or Legal Ops) is a multi-dimensional role that sits at the intersection of law with various other disciplines such as finance and budgeting, technology, risk management, project management, vendor management, knowledge management, data analytics, etc. Such roles tend to be more visible in an in-house set-up but law firms have had Chief Operating Officers or Chief Executive Officers who take over this role.

Legal Operations is a borrowed discipline. Its roots lie in Operations Management which is a field that focuses on maximising business efficiency through various processes that involve planning, prototyping, task management, organising, and outcome-based work delivery. 

The primary flow of Operations Management is as follows:

  1. Gather Data: Data gathering involves collating different sets of data from previous projects that a business has undertaken. These data sets could include employee’s performance, work time, efficiency, client satisfaction, costs, etc. 
  2. Analyse Insights: Once data has been gathered and organised, it needs to be analysed, to make it useful for future references and increasing the overall efficiency of the business. 
  3. Build Impactful Strategies: After analysing the data, it is used in a manner that strategies are built for future projects. These strategies aim to eliminate any encumbrances the data would have identified, and primarily builds tools and methods for greater results. 
What is Legal Operations?

The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), a global community that aims to redefine business standards in law practice, describes Legal Operations as, 

“a set of business 

  • processes, 
  • activities, and
  • professionals 

who enable legal departments to serve their clients more effectively by applying business and technical practices to the delivery of legal services. Legal ops provides,

  • strategic planning, 
  • financial management, 
  • technology expertise 

that enables legal professionals to focus on providing legal advice”.

According to the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), “Legal Operations is the function within the office of the general counsel that takes responsibility for efficient and effective delivery of legal services for the corporation. Dedicated legal operations staff focus on: 

  • optimizing how people, processes, and technology are deployed, 
  • leveraging data to inform decision-making and 
  • performance management.”

 

Why is a Legal Operations team essential?

A major chunk of the lawyers’ time is spent on documentation and administrative work. Manually keeping records of clients, tracking billing, managing, and communicating with vendors (including outside counsel) can come at the cost of inefficient legal services. 

Legal Operations steps in as a department with transferred ownership of all administrative tasks and efficient business and technology application. 

With this shift in responsibility, Legal Operations contributes in the following manner: 

  • Increases efficiency of lawyers in core legal practice (higher quality of legal work)
  • Increases ability to form strong partnerships and propel inter-functional collaboration with various other departments such as finance, IT, HR, etc. This brings more capabilities to the project, maximizing the success rate.
  • Brings more value to the table, by accelerating business through risk mitigation and strategic planning.
  • Ensures resource efficiency for lawyers through various methods of knowledge management, latest technology tools support, etc. 
  • Helps in the growth of the business through regular data analytics by providing metrics and strategies for improvement. 

 

Evolution of Legal Operations
Source: Simple Legal

The pre-1990s were marked with first trying to reduce their vendors’ costs (outside counsel), and focused on risk management. The aim was to reduce the internal costs of the firm. Only a few firms had dedicated Legal Operations teams (eg: General Electric, Bank of America), the trend was still unheard of. 

Post 1990s- 2000s were marked with similar efforts of reducing costs, but, outside counsel was relied upon, for efficiency and their strategic value. 

The next two decades saw a shift in perspective, where firms focused on building value within the business, to avoid looking for assistance outside, this brought greater reliance on Legal Operations. 

The present decade has seen a further shift in perspective, where innovation and efficiency is the main concern of a Legal Operations team. Newer strategies like technology adoption, automation, task management, cross-department collaboration, etc. are being adopted. 

 

What is the role of the Legal Operations Team?

To best understand the role of the Legal Operations team, the CLOC has suggested a 12 core competencies model. Competencies are the different skills and abilities of a Legal Operations team, at different levels of expertise (Foundational, Advanced and Mature).

Source: CLOC
The CLOC Foundational Competencies include: 
  • Financial Management/ Budgeting: Manage departmental budget and work on cost-saving. They maintain financial reports for the legal department such as spending on vendors, technology tools and resources etc. 
  • Vendor Management: The Legal Ops team manages the procurement of external legal services (outside counsel, law firms), alternate legal services (IT management, contract drafting and life cycle management, staffing etc). They work on various tasks such as drafting and enforcing billing and fee requirements, communication with vendors, etc. 
  • Cross-Functional alignment: Maintain and propel relationships with other departments such as Finance, IT, HR, etc., to ensure that legal functions are performed most efficiently. 
  • Technology and Process support: Here, the role of the Legal Ops team is to automate functions such as contract management, compliance, research, billing etc, through Legal Tech. The Legal Ops team tracks new legal technology and analyses it as per utility. For a detailed guide on Legal Tech please visit our last post (linked here). 

 

CLOC advanced competencies should be included once the foundational competencies have developed. These include: 
  • Service Delivery & alternate support models: This includes selecting right resources to reduce costs and develop a culture of automation. This is one with the support of alternate support models such as technology tools. 
  • Organisational, Design, Support & Management: Here, the role of the Legal Ops team is to ensure that a culture of growth and development exists in the organisation. Another role is to ensure that the performance of the team is collaborative within the organisation. 
  • Communications: Another role of the Legal Ops team is to ensure inter and intra communication. This would include tracking legal updates and developments with other organisations in the market and with the many other departments within the organisation. 
  • Data Analytics: Collect, analyse and store relevant data to strategize and gauge performances for future development. 

 

CLOC Mature Level Competencies: 
  • Litigation Support and IP Management: Litigation support includes e-discovery, document review, etc. The other role is to provide operational support in IP-related matters. 
  • Knowledge Management: Here the role of the Legal Ops team is to ensure easy access to institutional knowledge. The team compiles and manages all information related to current case laws, rulings, legislations, etc to make it easy to locate and access information without spending time digging. Another manner in which the Legal Ops team helps manage knowledge is by creating templates contracts, pleadings, etc. The primary aim is to set up a centralised repository of legal documents and legislations.
  • Information Governance and Records Management: Here the role is to record policies, processes and strategies of the organisation. 
  • Strategic Planning: Creating a long-term strategy, aligning yearly goals. Monitor whether goals are being met at the agreed timeframe and plan.  

 

3 Levels of Legal Operations 

As suggested by Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), Legal Operations has three Levels: 

 

Level 1: The Admin 
  • Beginner’s level 
  • Manages legal department vendors 
  • Basic reporting to stakeholders 

 

Level 2: The Optimizer 
  • Focuses on Optimisation
  • Reviews existing processes and determines which should be standardised and optimised. 

 

Level 3: The Strategiser
  • Cross-departmental work to ensure better efficiency. 

 

Legal Operations Usecase – Anecdotal Evidence: Linklaters
Source: Bucerius, Legal Operations: Getting more from In-House Legal Departments and Their Outside Counsel Report

 

How can I engage myself in Legal Operations?

To better understand how one can engage themselves in the Legal Operations department, we have attached a sample job description that you may refer to. Further, we have enlisted some reading materials, courses you may take, webinars and conferences you could participate in, podcasts you may stream, and people you may follow on a regular basis, in order to remain updated with the Legal Operations industry. 

 

Legal Operations Job Roles

To know more about these specific job roles,visit, 4 examples of Legal Operations jobs to help you build your team, Simple Legal.

 

Sample Job Description

Source: Simple Legal

 

What should you read? 

 

Streaming Content

 

People to follow

 

Courses

 

Job Opening: Standard Chartered 

Role: Legal Operations Manager 

Location: Chennai, India 

Responsibilities: 

  • The main responsibilities will be to support the Legal, CoSec and SIS COO team in managing all the onboarding and in-life due diligence requirements for all third parties engaged by the LCS function, ensuring compliance with all Third Party Risk Management (“TPRM”) requirements within the Bank.
  • Ensuring adherence to all Operational Risk Governance by all stakeholders involved

Business

  • Effectively project manage and co-ordinate various due diligence tasks including, but not limited to, anti-bribery and corruption, data privacy and third party security risk and ensure quality and timely execution.
  • Make timely and sound judgments, and identify clear solutions from broad, complex or ambiguous situations.
  • Interact with all levels of management within the Bank while performing TPRM related tasks for service providers across all of the Bank’s markets.
  • Effectively communicate the risks to internal and external stakeholders.
  • Effectively communicate and manage relationships with stakeholders globally.

Processes

  • Work with the Head of Supplier Performance in the delivery of the Review of Global/Specialist/Country Legal Panel Reviews
  • Provide appropriate support to teams including planning initiatives, updating due diligence trackers, identifying and reporting risks and issues
  • Assist in identifying key stages of the Sourcing Process within Country
  • Ensure that you have an ability to navigate through the Banks policies and standards
  • Ensure Project Governance framework is adhered to and requisite documentation is completed
  • Support the Head of Supplier Performance on reporting, including meeting preparation and monitoring of follow-up actions with the Legal Management Team and broader risk groups (ABC, Privacy, TPSR etc)
  • Maintain ServiceNow, SharePoint and Bridge Sites to ensure that Programme documents are up-to-date and shared with stakeholders
  • Manage a register of Service Providers and ensure that deficiencies are mitigated, and appropriately escalated to relevant stakeholders
  • Support any training and awareness initiatives relating to the Group Engaging External Counsel Policy and third party risk management relevant to LCS
  • Assist in the development of new/amended processes, innovative ways of working and reviewing Service Provider due diligence tasks
  • Assist in the forward planning and prioritisation of vendor assessments or requests from internal and external stakeholders, and resource allocations.
  • Develop relationships with multiple internal and external stakeholders in different markets to understand local conditions and considerations which may impact upon TPRM requirements

Risk Management

  • Maintain a register of third party risk managment and ensure that deficiencies are mitigated.
  • Support the Head of Supplier Performance to ensure compliance with relevant governance covering third party security risk.
  • Monitor and report onLegal, CoSec and SIS’s compliance with third party risk management requirements to stakeholders.

Governance

  • Diligently provide weekly and ad hoc reporting on status of third party due diligence

Regulatory & Business Conduct

  • Display exemplary conduct and live by the Group’s Values and Code of Conduct.
  • Take personal responsibility for embedding the highest standards of ethics, including regulatory and business conduct, across Standard Chartered Bank. This includes understanding and ensuring compliance with, in letter and spirit, all applicable laws, regulations, guidelines and the Group Code of Conduct.
  • Follow the Leadership of Head of Supplier Performance to achieve the outcomes set out in the Bank’s Conduct Principles: Fair Outcomes for Clients; Effective Operation of Financial Markets, Financial Crime Prevention; Creating the Right Environment.
  • Effectively and collaboratively identify, escalate, mitigate and resolve risk, conduct and compliance matters.

Other Responsibilities

  • Embed “Here for Good” and Group’s brand and values in the TPSR Team
  • Perform other responsibilities assigned under Group, Country, Business or Functional policies and procedures.
  • Establish strong relationships with identified stakeholders across the regions and countries and understand their strategic goals, in order to ensure ICS alignment.
  • Ensure that Process Owners are escalating risk, control, and process deficiencies appropriately in accordance with the relevant risk frameworks.

Qualifications: 

  • Strong communication skills in English
  • Strong Project Management experience, with good understanding of Legal environment
  • Ideally experience in information security / IT auditing, with Big 4 and/or Banking & Financial services experience
  • Experience in third party audits is a plus, but understanding of auditing standards, compliance, risk assessment and internal control frameworks is a requirement.
  • Familiarity with working in a cross-cultural setting.
  • Excellent written and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with complex programme structure involving matrix management and various stakeholders
  • Strong relationship building skills
  • Able to work in a high pressure environment in a geographically and culturally dispersed environment
  • Ability to multitask and ensure that all key priorities are delivered as per agreed timelines.
  • Competency with Microsoft Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Visio, SharePoint)

Application Link: Click here

Job Opening: Dell,  India

Role: Legal Operations Senior Business Analyst 

Location: Remote 

PQE: 12+ years 

Responsibilities

  • Facilitate meetings around requirements gathering and process mapping
  • Perform gap analysis (current mode of operations versus future mode of operations)
  • Participate in end-to-end activities related to implementation including demand management, issue management, communication and change management
  • Understand and document the customer journey and identify ways to improve existing customer pain points based on process optimization, technology, change management, or communication
  • Work in an Agile manner and with cross functional teams to ensure successful product delivery
  • Help create customer solutions to affect organizational transformation
  • Participate in User Acceptance testing and recommend improvements based on process improvements or defects found
  • Develop and manage project plans and coordinate across multiple projects, identifying risks and issues and developing appropriate mitigation plans
  • Support the knowledge governance of the Legal ServiceNow platform and maintenance of Legal information

Requirements

  • Must have ServiceNow expertise from a business process and requirements gathering perspective.
  • Bachelor’s degree with 12+ years relevant experience or equivalent combination of education / experience.
  • Strong experience with process optimization, business process and / or data workflows and building / implementing large-scale global programs around technology / tools to enable a business function.
  • Thought leader with strong communication skills : articulate and able to modulate communications based on audience strategically agile adapts well to change ability to demystify complex activities and convey in a simple, straight forward manner.
  • Incredible drive for results, meticulous attention to detail and exception sense of quality, personally accountability and intentional focus on building great relationships, values diverse perspectives, lives our purpose and values, and is recognized as someone people want to work with.
  • Project Management Professional (PMP) or project management experience within a corporate legal department, law firm or legal vendor firm.
  • Other Project Management certificates.

Application Link: Click here

Job Opening: Applied Materials Inc

Role: Legal Operations Technical Analyst 

Location: Bengaluru, Karnataka 

PQE: 5-8 years 

Responsibilities

  • Support Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM)
  • Manage the contracts repository for all customer contracts for the law department, including creation and modification and maintenance of contract templates.
  • Maintain the CLM application, clause library, key terms and meta-data, administer security roles, user permissions and security.
  • Maintaining custom objects, custom fields, page layouts, validation and notification rules.
  • Maintain CLM pipeline and Access Request systems.
  • Respond to internal user support requests until resolution using Service-Now help ticketing system. Provide end user training.
  • Escalate tool support issues through vendor support ticketing system.
  • Provide day-to-day support to Legal Department core team and users of the contracts management system.

Qualifications

  • Bachelors of Computer Science degree or equivalent experience, advanced degree or training preferred.
  • 3 years previous experience in an Application Support role.
  • Minimum of 3 years experience in core product software development
  • 5 years of professional experience in a corporate department; technical project management preferred
  • 3 years relevant experience in contracts management; preferably iCertis.

Application Link: Click Here

 

 

 

 

 

We spoke to Anshul Gupta (Co-Founder, MikeLegal) on his journey in LegalTech, the rise of LegalTech in India, how to pitch lawyers and law firms, and everything about entrepreneurship.

 

 
Please tell us something about yourself and the LegalTech startup space in India. How has your experience been here so far?

I am a student of B.Com from SRCC, Delhi. I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. I was very intrigued by how startups are created, how they generate wealth and help in solving a number of different problems. So, I always wanted to work with a startup or begin one of my own. That’s how I started looking at different projects and ideas, and MikeLegal came into the picture.

When we started, in 2018, LegalTech was still rising in India. If you look at other sectors like healthcare and fintech, LegalTech is quite behind and if you compare the LegalTech market in the USA, the Indian space is years behind. But over the course of years, we have seen that a lot of new companies have started coming in. Over the last two years, legal teams, especially law firms have started to realize that efficiency and automation can give them a competitive advantage. Where previously they would look at technology as a cost center, now they have started looking at it as an investment for the growth of the organization. That shift is extremely important for LegalTech companies to grow and survive. With LegalTech or any B2B SaaS, we have seen that if you provide good service and a good product at a good price, legal teams would like to continue with you for years since the customer adoption rate ends up on the higher side.

Lastly, if you have to build a LegalTech company, you need to go global because that is where the money lies.

 

You mentioned that you are a graduate of SRCC and have not studied law. How did you conceptualize MikeLegal and what made you step into the LegalTech space?

My co-founder Tushar is a lawyer. And around 2016-17, a lot of AI companies started coming in and that’s when we looked at what sectors can AI kick in, and what sectors have not been innovated in. So, that’s when the concept of beginning a LegalTech startup came in. Most lawyers were doing a manual intervention for tasks which in our opinion could be automated. So that’s when we thought that we should build an ecosystem of solutions where multiple legal processes can be automated.

 

What was the inspiration behind the name of your startup “MikeLegal”, how did you come up with that?

We are all fans of Suits (the TV Series). It is inspired by the famous character ‘Mike Ross’. We started with this name and eventually got caught up with work and didn’t happen to relook at the name. So, we stuck with MikeLegal. And now, all our products start with Mike in the beginning. And there’s been a lot of curiosity around the name!

 

Most lawyers are of the opinion that artificial intelligence will replace them.  Is this challenge for MikeLegal and other LegalTech startups? How do you deal with this?

There have been instances where lawyers say that AI is taking up their jobs. But this is due to a lack of understanding. AI can’t replace a professional; it can only assist you in the processes and it does not make any decisions for you. The type of products that we are building are assistance technologies.

So, I think any LegalTech company can circumvent this by two factors: One, you should know who you’re talking to – Is it a partner at a law firm? Or an associate? Or an in-house counsel at a corporation? And the second is you have to portray the return on investment (ROI) that the tool can bring.

To be honest, the legal teams do not care if you’re using AI or some other technology; what they focus on is the impact you’re bringing to them. Are you able to use the technology to reduce their costs by 20% or increase revenue by 50%?

 

Does your approach differ when reaching out to different end clients? 

We look at customer segmentation.

For example, if you look at a boutique law firm with five associates, we focus on scalability. Normally, if they want to scale the work, they will have to keep adding more people, which to be honest, is not possible for boutique law firms or smaller firms on a sustainable basis. Our technology allows them to do 10x more work with the same number of members and solves the problem of scalability.

For the big law firms, we focus on the ROI per associate. We actually focus on the percentage revenue increases that our technology can bring. Every law firm is competing with the other – so, they have to maintain quality and have a competitive edge.

In our interactions, we have also realized that a lot of legal teams also have FOMO (fear of missing out). Because naturally, if their competitor is using a technology that is helping them serve their client better, then, they are also interested in such technology.

For an in-house department of a company, I think the focus is not on profits; it’s more about helping them organize their processes. The legal team of a corporation is usually much smaller. They manage a very large portfolio. And even if they outsource a lot of legal work, they still need to streamline and be on top of their matters. So, for in-house departments, we’ve seen that focusing on a more process-oriented approach and quality control is what makes sense.

 

How efficient or cost-effective does artificial intelligence make the legal space?  What has your experience been and what do the numbers say?

There are various ways to go around this. It obviously depends on what stage you’re at, with the product. When we first started selling the product, there was no way to really know, what is the potential revenue increase that can come in. So, what we actually did, in the beginning, was – rather than focusing on numbers, we made people experience the tool, because they were able to instantly know (compared to what they were doing before the tool) how technology can help them. That’s when we were focusing a lot on the demo of the tool.

Once we started working with more customers, we started doing case studies, where law firms would tell us the percentage increase that they were able to see in revenue, etc. And that became a benchmark for us and that actually gave us a very good idea about how the tool has impacted their business in terms of numbers.

 

Tell us something about MikeLegal’s products: Trademark Search, TM Watch, IP Manager, and DocuSieve.

We started the company with tools around the trademark space. With Trademark Search, we have built one of the leading trademark ecosystems, where we help clients use AI for trademark searching. With higher accuracy, they can get to know if there’s a similar trademark in the market just before filing it. Also, while launching a new brand, it becomes very important to do a trademark search. With our system, what you do in two hours, can practically be done in minutes.

The second tool is Mike TM Watch, which is an AI-powered journal analysis solution. As a lawyer, every week, I will need to check if there are any similar trademarks to mine published in the journal, which today is very time-consuming – roughly 7 to 8000 trademarks get published every week, and I have to go one by one against my trademark to see if there’s anything similar. But with our system tracker, one can view similar marks that have been filed in a dashboard. Our clients have seen at least a 30-40% increase in identifying similar trademarks as opposed to doing it manually!

And our third tool is Mike IP manager, which maintains an excel sheet, and is an automated dashboard that will tell you about all the changes happening to your IP portfolio. You can manage it on one single dashboard, filter it, create reports – it becomes a centralized system.

Our Trademark solutions are being used by multiple law firms and corporate such as Samvad Partners, Reliance Industries, Pidilite, Anand & Anand, and many more.

Mike DocuSieve is a new tool that we’ve launched a few months back since we are entering into the contract space. One of the most important parts of creating a contract is contract proofreading. At the end of the day, you have no option but to manually go through each and every word of the contract. It’s a lot of effort, and more importantly, it’s non-billable. So that’s when we created an AI system, which is inbuilt in Microsoft Word where at a click of a button it can tell you the various errors and inconsistencies in your document across definitions, clause referencing, amounts saving the associate’s or the team’s significant time and, more importantly, identify errors that were missed on before. So, we’ve had a bunch of corporate boutique firms like Jerome Merchant Partners, Touchstone Partners, Saakshya Law, and many more using this tool.

 

What are the trends in the LegalTech startup space in India? Is it easy to pitch for funding? Are people willing to invest?

Investors look at the market size. If you’re able to really put the idea forward, the problem you’re solving or how big the problem is, where you can be in the next few years, funding should not be a challenge.

Some active investors are Mumbai Angels, Indian Angel Network, O21 Capital. They typically look at bigger ticket sizes, but they have also invested in startups. We have seen a few startups raise funding, but in India again, there are a few handfuls who have actually successfully been able to raise a couple of million dollars. But I’m hoping that changes.

 

Where do you see the LegalTech startup space going from here? What specific services are growing?

I think, in India, a lot of questions come around practice management because COVID absolutely changed the functioning of a firm. So, we’ve seen a lot of requests for contract management, specifically from the corporate side. And I think what’s very interesting with LegalTech is that, because there’s slowly been a shift in the thinking of legal teams in terms of how they view these technology solutions, India can be a very interesting market to scale up on, and then eventually, one should look at going global.

 

What advice would you give someone who is trying to enter the LegalTech Startup industry?

First and foremost is to find a co-founder who is from a legal background. Not only does that add a lot of credibility to the company, but it also allows you to build a product with domain expertise.

Then, as I mentioned, start looking at the ROI that you can create for customers based on what type of customer they are. And I think, it should not be a challenge specifically in India, because today, if you’re able to showcase to someone that you can reduce their costs, and can provide cost-efficient pricing, they would be interested.

So, for me, personally, I think it’s a very interesting time to be in the LegalTech space.

 

Three mistakes a rookie in the Legal Startup space should avoid.

We have a philosophy at MikeLegal that is typically followed in other startups also – what’s the core product that one can launch that can be viable for the customer, which is called MVP, (minimum viable product). And that is important because it allows you to know what is most essential to the customer. If I remove features A, B, and C, and I just keep feature D, will the customer still pay me?

I think the first focus would be to reach the MVP stage; can I build a minimum viable product with the least amount of investment, so that I can learn from the customer rather than, spending months and months in development, with my own hypothesis? Customer learning is very important – the faster you learn, the faster you’ll be successful.

The second is to reach product-market fit.

The third is, spend time creating a culture at the company, and creating a solid team, because at the end of the day, even if you’re building a product similar to someone else, there are chances that you can actually beat them if you have a better team.

 

Lastly, did your first start-up Fabence (a personalized fashion discovery platform), which was a retail start-up, help you in a LegalTech space?

Absolutely. In fact, Fabence gave me a lot of learnings.

The concept of MVP, product-market fit, etc. were all alien to me when I started Fabence. Building the company made me understand the processes, execution strategies, etc. The concept of creating an MVP came out of Fabence; when I spent months doing a particular product feature that the customer didn’t really care about. That’s when I realized that you need to cut down the noise.

It also taught me about entrepreneurship in general. People only see the glamour around it because that’s what the news pushes. But it can be very challenging, and difficult. Fabence was a wonderful learning, in terms of what one needs to do to build a company, and more importantly, what to avoid.

Herbert Smith Freehills‘ global Legal Operations function has introduced a new graduate scheme, which will see non-lawyers develop the skills needed to carve out a career in legal service delivery.

Graduate Training Program: Legal Operations Graduate Training Program by Herbert Smith Freehills

First Intake: January 2022 (5 roles across firm’s network: two in London, one in Asia, two in Australia) 

Duration: 18 months 

Training areas: 

The graduate scheme will finish with the opportunity to complete a three month secondment before moving into a full-time role in the Legal Operations function. 

Click here for more details.