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Interview | Tomoyuki Hachigo (sprintlaw)

sprintlaw is a new type of law firm that operates completely online and on a fixed-fee basis. They are on a mission to make quality legal services faster, simpler and more affordable for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Tomoyuki Hachigo is the co-founder and lawyer at sprintlaw. Recently, Milan was fortunate to interview Tomo!

1. Do you have a quote you live your life by or think of often?

I’m not a really big quotes kind of person, but there are a few concepts I do live by. One of them is this concept of “daydream”, which is also one of our core values at sprintlaw. The basic idea is that all innovation starts from unstructured thoughts, from daydreaming.

This is particularly important in an age where everyone is measured against how productive they are. Instead, I’m a big believer in creativity and the idea that from time to time you have to take a step back and reflect on the bigger picture.

2. What have you changed your mind about in the last few years? Why?

One that comes to mind is how I used to think you can achieve everything through hard work and by satisfying some pre-defined set of criteria. But I’ve realised that just because you work hard, it doesn’t meant that things will just be handed to you and you’ve really got to work smart and carve out your own destiny if you want to succeed.

And this is a fairly common way of thinking in the law because we’re trained to be that way. Starting all the way from getting a high ATAR score to get into law school, maintaining good grades throughout uni, collecting extra curricular activities for your CV, getting that first “law job”, and so on. Then you see this translate to attitudes in the workplace as well, where people who have ticked all these boxes then complain about not getting a raise or promotion. But in reality there are many other factors at play, often those that are not entirely fair. And so you can’t always rely on the system delivering for you, and instead you have to take initiative and be creative to make things happen.

3. What was the toughest challenge you faced in starting sprintlaw and how did you overcome it?

Trying to innovate while being restricted by the rules of an old profession that hasn’t yet adapted to the 21st century. In order to build a legal service delivery model that is convenient, online and customer-centric, we do things differently. But at every step along the way, we have encountered some law society rule that prohibits us from designing the perfect solution.

Of course, many of the ethical rules are there for good reason and to protect the integrity of the profession. However, the regulations (and the supporting software solutions) seem to be built for the old way of doing things – where lawyers work in offices, meet clients face-to-face, and charge by the hour to unquestioning clients.

That being said, the good news is that Australia’s legal business regulations are actually more liberal than many other jurisdictions, and there’s a lot we do at sprintlaw that wouldn’t be possible overseas.

4. Is there anything that you miss about working at a top-tier law firm?

One thing I definitely appreciate in hindsight is how a top-tier law firm is full of super intelligent people. Not sure if I “miss” that, but being surrounded by such people on a daily basis was a unique experience.

I also couldn’t be doing what I’m doing now without the training I received at the BigLaw firm. And that’s part of the problem because I don’t think it is sustainable for traditional law firms to keep training up junior talent. This is why I want sprintlaw to eventually be a place that also equips the next generation of lawyers with the tools and mindset required in the future.

5. What are the common pitfalls for startups and small business that do not get legal advice?

It’s usually the simple things – having a shareholders agreement, registering a trademark, employment issues, writing up a contract, and so on. With all of these, the main issue is that they don’t get the advice early on before things get problematic. Small businesses often try to just wing it and only see a lawyer in crisis situations – and it’s usually too late to deal with things then. Businesses often sign up to a bad deal, or end up in disputes that could have been avoided, because they just didn’t have the right conversations early on in their business dealings. A lot of the time, the real value in seeing a lawyer is just to go through the process of fleshing out potential issues and risks when making business decisions.

6. How does sprintlaw get buy-in from a client base that is generally reluctant to use legal services?

Following from the previous answer, the real problem is that this market doesn’t see the value in seeing a lawyer. And I don’t blame them when the status quo lawyers are so expensive, overly complicated and time consuming. Lawyers also tend to be very out of step with how consumers, especially the younger generations, nowadays prefer to transact online and through smartphones.

That’s why we focus on making it easy to consume legal services, by improving user experience and designing the entire business around the customer. From the client’s perspective, the sprintlaw experience is very quick and easy – make an online enquiry, get a fixed-fee quote, connect with one of our lawyers, and problem solved! To make this simple 4-step process happen, we’ve put in a lot of thought to the tech infrastructure and business processes to make this as efficient and seamless as possible. Coupling this with the latest legal technology to help our lawyers be smarter and more efficient, we’re able to provide quality legal output at the fraction of the cost.

7. What advice would you give a law graduate in 2018?

Read Richard Susskind’s books. Be aware of the changing landscape and be open to learning new skills. Technology will certainly play a huge part, but that doesn’t mean that it’s all about tech skills. In fact, I think it’s more than ever important to think about traditional human skills like intuition and creativity.

8. What is your legal forecast? i.e where will the Australian legal market be in 10-15 years

Of all the technologies that have been hyped up in recent years (e.g. AI, machine learning, big data, blockchain, etc), there’s one specific idea in Richard Susskind’s book that I’ve always been drawn to. It’s this idea of “Embedded Legal Knowledge” whereby the law would be embedded within society’s systems and processes. The example he gives is a car that doesn’t drive if the driver’s blood alcohol level exceeds the limit, instead of the status quo which requires the driver to know and interpret the law (though, we may not have drivers anymore in 10-15 years, but you get the idea).

In such a world, the role of lawyers would obviously radically shift, from specialists who react to certain situations, to some sort of an architect of social infrastructure. 10-15 years is a very long time in tech and my prediction is that there will be so many aspects of the world that would be unrecognisable from today’s perspective.

Before getting excited about the future though, a more immediate development would be to bring lawyers up to speed with 2017! I find it crazy how much grunt work there still is at law firms, even though there are already tools out there to automate so much of the work lawyers don’t want to do. I think there’ll be an increasing trend for lawyers to focus only on things that machines can’t do. For the legal market, this means that the top end will probably continue business as usual but under a leaner and more tech-enabled outfit. The commoditised end of the market will also continue to develop with new offerings reaching underserved markets. The consensus seems to be that the middle is in trouble, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case in 10-15 years time.

 

If you would like to be interviewed or offer your thoughts on a recent event, book or article, please contact our Editor In Chief, Michael Bidwell, at mbidwell@mccullough.com.au

TLF Brainstorm | Ep. 5 | What is your legal forecast for 2018?

What is TLF Brainstorm? 

TLF Brainstorm is an opportunity for our community of legal forecasters to share their creative ideas in response to an interesting question about the role of the lawyer.

TLF Brainstorm is one part philosophical, one part creative, and most of all, it is a space to share new ideas.

Some of our responses may be genius and change the world forever, some may completely lacklustre, some may be riddled with typos (having been typed and sent through on someone’s mobile phone while on the bus). This is the beauty of TLF Brainstorm.

This episode’s question from Angus Murray: 

What is your legal forecast for 2018?

Kyall Partsch (TLF VIC)

The Court System

I believe 2018 will see an increased emphasis on the workings of our Court System – in particular the strain and overwhelming they’ve recently experienced. There will be a renewed push to incorporate and adapt innovative legal concepts and technologies into the Court system in order to not only just streamline it’s productivity but also ensure it retains its relevance in the increasingly disrupted legal landscape. Existing initiatives such as E-filing (which has been in use for over three years) and the “Technology in Civil Litigation Practice Note” which commenced in early 2017, will be joined by other similar initiatives as the Courts continue to evolve and prepare themselves to cope with the recent surge in commercial proceedings and the increasing complexity of these cases (including an increase in group proceedings).

The Hierarchy

I believe a major focus in 2018 will be the hierarchical nature of legal structures (such as law firms) including the continued discussion as to whether these hierarchies are actually an inhibitor of progress, innovation and adaptation in the legal services market. An increased emphasis on the development of effective mechanisms and strategies to encourage firm-wide (rather than top-down or vice versa) creativity, problem-solving and innovative thinking will lead to the introduction of more collaborative platforms that foster fresh and vibrant ideas.

Access-to-Justice

I hope 2018 is a year in which access-to-justice becomes a major focus for the disruptors and innovators of the legal industry. In particular, I believe a growing consideration that will be turned to is the ability to retain the ‘human element’ in connecting disadvantaged individuals with the legal services they require. Rather than merely supplementing the services of a lawyer with technology (such as AI/chatbots) I believe there will be a new focus on ensuring that innovative services that improve community access-to-justice will retain an element of personal engagement and connection – and which, above all, ensures a level of human empathy.

Laura Spalding (TLF QLD)

Implementation

A much bigger focus on implementation as firms figure out how to actually walk the walk and tackle the following issues:

  1.    Who is responsible to implement new software/technology (IT teams? Lawyers themselves? the SLG?);
  2.    What products/systems are even out there;
  3.    How do you change the attitudes of lawyers unwilling to adapt;
  4.    What exactly are the business benefits of implementation or equally, what are the potential business losses for a lack of adaptation by lawyers?

I think this will lead to bigger emphasis and investment by firms in either in-house or external IT providers, and other consultants and professionals.

Managing client demand

Clients are becoming more sophisticated and cunning in their selection of legal service providers. As a result they are having more of a voice in how legal services are provided, for example in relation to alternative fee arrangements and access to resources such as pro forma documents.

Preparing for a redefinition of legal services

What can lawyers do to better their own services in preparation to compete with a new wave of legal service providers (not necessarily a threat in 2018 but definitely a consideration for the future) for example:

  1.    New skills such as coding;
  2.    Overcoming cliché discussions and determining what we actually need to know about to keep up with the things affecting the business of our clients? (I.e. blockchain, cryptos, ICO’s etc);
  3.    Lawyers jumping from firms to the big four.

New structures of law firms

Is it the end of the traditional partnership model? What else works and how can lawyers get a better deal.

Angus Murray (TLF QLD)

This year has marked a significant increase in the legal profession’s interest in technology and innovation. This discourse has largely been centred around artificial intelligence (“AI”), automation and document management. I expect that this discussion will continue as a centre point in the new year, however, my forecast is that the following points will become increasingly relevant.

  • Access to Justice

As technology is implemented within legal practice, there will be an increase in the way(s) in which society can access justice. This may be via AI-driven legal solutions, the Court’s architecture, information availability for the public and the cost of basic legal services. Access to justice is a fundamental aspect of law and, once the “tech hype” has subsided, I hope that access to justice will theme as both a morally and commercially important aspect of technology in law.

  • Future-proofing graduates

The legal landscape is clearly shifting into the digital era and with this transition comes the need to appropriately educate and skill new generations of lawyers. I forecast that this will involve an increased focus on the broader ambit of law (i.e. areas of practice) and utilisation of a law degree outside of the traditional pathway (and aspiration) to partnership at a large law firm.

  • Decentralised practice

The increase of interconnectivity is arguably the greatest disruption to the traditional legal model and mindset. The ability to work from home, on the bus, in the airport, etc. is creating a situation where the necessity for a physical and central location for a law firm may become redundant.

  • Legislative reform

The law will be required to change to accommodate new methods of practicing and communicating legal services. The abovementioned points will require legislative change and it is, in my hopeful view, likely that the new year will see Parliament considering the best way(s) to regulate and quality control the evolving nature of legal practice.

  • An increase in the “art of law”

This is probably the biggest (and boldest) forecast for the future of law. I have repeatedly stated that, arbitrarily, law is 80% science and 20% art. The science aspect of law is the process driven elements of law and are thus capable of automation (eg. the preparation of a standard license agreement). The art of law is more finesse and is the deeper human element of law. The importance of the “art of law” will become clearer as technology struggles to properly identify and act upon complex variables such as sensing untold needs, credibility, ancillary issues and advocacy. I forecast that the art of law will become increasingly important in legal education and professional development.

In sum, we live in interesting times and I forecast that the new year will continue to deliver challenging and exciting issues.

Gemma Freeman (TLF VIC)

My thoughts are as follows (apologies that I have not had time to polish up as much as I’d like): My legal forecast is somewhat conservative in that I think we will see a continuation and acceleration of current trends (as outlined below), with large significant changes still to follow.

I see a continued (and accelerated) commercialisation of the legal profession. Truly ‘commercial’ firms are those that are client-centric which differs significantly from the historic role of law as a profession (in which lawyers could say, do and charge as they pleased!) and I think 2018 will see an acceleration in this shift from the latter to the former. This will raise additional tensions with the regulation of legal practice (the current model poorly applies to legal technology and to firms wishing to offer a truly commercial service) and hopefully we will start to see some of the industry’s regulations updated and adapted (however not without tensions along the way!).

I expect even more service providers to begin to offer legal services in addition to their other services, challenging the current top-tiers. I also expect a big shift towards making legal services more approachable and accessible for clients; e.g. online billing and client access to matter information (such as online portals); many clients are asking for these and it is strange that the legal industry has been so slow to adopt, however presumably they will have to be adopted in 2018. I expect that the largest corporations and the banks will really begin to implement reg tech (following in Europe’s footsteps) to cope with the increasing regulatory burdens and higher risk of enforcement action from regulators, and firms and start-ups are likely to be competing heavily in this space.

As for access to justice, I anticipate that additional online resources will pop up providing people with information on the law and further breaking down barriers (and ‘undermining’ law as a profession).

I also think the legal industry will begin to draw from other professions and disciplines in order to provide a more holistic view of legal issues. For example, perhaps we might see an increasing  collaboration/merging between those involved in dispute resolution and those that understand human psychology, in order to develop and structure ‘smarter’ dispute resolution interactions between people that help reach speedy resolution (particularly in the context of family law).

I expect that the judicial system and the education system will continue to lag behind the commercial realm in terms of change (given the lack of commercial incentives driving change and the generation of those running the courts and the universities) and that it is unlikely to see any significant changes occur in these areas in 2018, however the conversation on what needs to change in these spaces will continue.

Lastly, on lawyer wellbeing, lawyers will continue to demand healthier and more sustainable work environments, as knowledge on what makes for a healthy and happy life becomes more adopted by the mainstream. I think there will be a decrease in those willing to sacrifice their health (and life) for the sake of a ‘successful’ legal career.

Daniel Owen (TLF QLD)

 2017

Save for a perhaps inevitable (but erroneous) conflation of innovation with technology and mounting evidence of a legal innovation echo-chamber, 2017 has not been without progress.  The legal landscape in 2017 has been punctuated by the mass realisation that there is opportunity in legal innovation.  We can also now safely say there is a burgeoning micro economy with legal innovation as its centre point.

Notwithstanding the above, 2017 has not escaped the growing pains of innovation.  

This year has continued the trend of a stunning lack of understanding from industry players who continue to believe that innovation is opposed to their bottom line.  To anyone familiar with the literature, the notion that innovation is inherently good is derivative.  Enduring sentiment to the contrary is the intellectual equivalent of a 7-foot NBA player air-balling a free throw – disappointing, but altogether not that uncommon.

2018

1. Regulatory development

2017 has seen substantial movement in the regulation of innovative practices.  Particularly interesting in 2018 will be the interplay of alternative capital raising efforts with ASIC’s crystallised positions on crowd sourced funding (RG 261) and Initial Coin Offerings (Info Sheet 225).  Undoubtedly, 2018 will offer a mix of financial products that utilise alternative funding as a compliment to a sound underlying business model and those that attempt to rely on alternative funding to make an otherwise untenable project tenable. 

2. Legal integration

2018 will likely see progress toward ‘legal integration’, being the merging of legal practice with business practice, as the demand for legal services ebb and flow with macro-economic trends.  For those resistant to the legal integration trend, a key question is how to create utility out of the inevitable downtrends in demand for services (i.e. how can law firms create business for themselves rather than piggybacking on the business of others).  

A key example of innovation in practice comes from recent ASX listed entity Go2 People Limited (ASX: GO2), which took to market the idea of combining FIFO worker recruitment with internally-driven prefab home constructions during low-demand periods.  2018 may very well be the year that law firms discover their version of the ‘prefab homes’ model.   

3. The client/risk portfolio

As the goodwill of premium law firm brands retains status as the most valued currency in legal services, downward pressure on pricing will continue to influence the way law firms share project risk allocations and receive remuneration for their services.  Particularly in the micro-cap space, law firms have demonstrated a willingness to accept alternative fee arrangements, whether by way of deferred payments, scrip arrangements, or a derivative thereof.  

2018 may see law firms begin to view their clients as investment ‘portfolios’ that balance high risk/high return projects with more reliable traditional arrangements.  Law firms willing (and financially able) to de-emphasise short term profits and carry greater risk will position themselves ideally in the long term to compete with firms above their market position.

4. Innovation in practice

For those who caught the ‘innovation discussion bug’ in 2017, 2018 should be focussed on turning those words into practical action.  Core to this process will be taking the time to quantify processes (including mental processes) for the purposes of leveraging technology to replace the repeatable aspects of practice.  The small minority of unquantifiable aspects of the profession that remain (being the inherently human aspects), will be a potent mix that Angus Murray so rightfully calls the ‘art of law’.

Assisting this process, and/or capitalising upon it, should be the focus in 2018.

Michael Bidwell (TLF QLD)

Everyone keeps looking at the bigger firms for defining the status of legal innovation and technology.  I think that is going to change in 2018.  People are going to stop relying on the bigger firms as the benchmark for what is progress in the industry.  2017 saw some of the most innovative firms created or highlighted in the industry for their adaptability and commitment to making access to justice a reality.  That is who will continue to shine bright in 2018.

The traditional partnership model will likely not change in 2018 but I think you are going to see more attention brought to the inherent flaws in the system given today’s world market.  Millenials are continually entering and rising up in the legal industry and the traditional partnership model often does not sit well with our values.  Clients want a full-service package and it is about damn time law firms realised they need to operate as a collective business rather than 50 individual businesses headed by individual partners who get angry if their client likes another lawyer at their firm more.

Importantly, universities have been quite responsive to change in the industry and I believe 2018 will see more law/technology offerings whether that be dual degrees or more courses.  This is significant because the next generation of lawyers need to be prepared for the disruptions that are to come.  It will also comfort students to know the big firms are not the only highly coveted positions as innovative law firms continue to offer flexibility and unique opportunities along with businesses who traditionally would not have taken law graduates.

Chris Ritchie (IT Manager at Franchise Control Systems; Business Analyst/ Implementation Manager at Hosemasters International)

To begin my Legal Forecast for 2018 I believe it is critically important to form a distinction between incremental innovation and disruptive innovation. Incremental innovation is the incremental improvement of a service or product. Examples of incremental improvements using technology are report aggregation from previously decentralized data sources, workflow automation in which time-consuming, repetitive tasks are automated, or integrated communicative tools. In contrast, disruptive innovation is by its nature paradigm shifting and transforms the way in which entire systems perform. Examples of disruptive innovation are Google’s search technology, Amazon’s cloud services, Netflix’s initially DVD-by-mail model, followed by its streaming service, or Uber’s transportation service. Of the two established firms tend to focus on the former. Why? In my experience, because incremental innovations are often apparent after performing standard analysis processes, it is less risk intensive, and it is far easier to identify a clear ROI for projects. Furthermore, established firms are averse to a mass transformation of the landscape they already dominate in, where disruptive innovation threatens to destabilize a tried and true business model.

So what does this mean for the legal profession in 2018?  I would assert that legal profession is ripe for incremental innovation in 2018, yet not disruptive innovation. To list a few reasons why 2018 is not the year for disruptive innovation in the legal profession:

  1. Many of the technologies propounded to cause disruption are still in their infancy stage (AI, machine learning, blockchain)
  2. There is a lag cycle between these technologies reaching maturity and gaining widespread adoption
  3. There is yet to be signs of a singular pre-eminent legal profession platform that is challenging the status quo

With this said incremental innovations can result in major increases in productivity, and lay the foundation for full-scale transformation. Incremental innovation often emerges from the intersection between a problem made evident through the regular performance of a business 

process; and the knowledge of an available technology, software, or method. Application of this available technology, software or method to the problem generates a solution. This solution represents an incremental improvement to the process, and in-turn improves the efficiency of the system. For this Forecast, I will focus primarily on incremental innovations through intersections of problems and available technologies in the legal profession.

Key Trends:

Open Source Technology

Open-source technology represents unparalleled opportunities for innovation. Open source projects like Red Hat Linux, TensorFlow, HyperLedger, Apache HTTP Server, MySQL to name a few offer the chance for a regular full-stack developer to leverage the knowledge of the world’s greatest software engineers through using open source technology in their projects.  Open source technologies develop a symbiotic relationship with their user base, where users gain the benefit of usage, and the open source project gains active QA testers, developers to grow, and perhaps most importantly network effects through widespread user adoption.

Platforms Design/ API

Technology companies are consciously designing their applications as platforms and allowing their users to have greater control over how the application performs. API’s (Application Programming Interface) allows users to integrate services across multiple platforms, allowing functionality which previously required months or years of planning and development to be available within hours or days.

Flow-on Effect

The flow-on effect from the expansion of open source technology and IT companies undertaking a platform-centric model leads to previously inconceivable interconnectivity, interoperability, and integrability for IT projects. I believe these trends will yield a stream of new SaaS (Software as a Service) applications, and accelerate the maturing processes of existing SaaS applications for the legal profession.

Does this mean law firms need to increase their internal development budget significantly? Not necessarily, many of the problems lawyers face are universal, which means it is highly likely that there are already tools and technologies available to fulfil the firm’s technological/ business process requirements. With that said, enterprises which are developing SaaS applications for the legal profession will be strategically positioning themselves to expand their service catalogue and lay the foundation for a platform technology. To gain a competitive advantage law firms may consider a similar strategic approach.

Examples of Intersections Between Technological Trends and the Legal Profession:

Workflow Automation:

Chatbots (Internal and Managing Client Relations)

ChatBots are becoming more widely used and accepted across many industries. As the technology matures, firms may opt to deploy chatbots to serve as an interface with internal knowledge bases for internal stakeholders and clients alike.

Smart Contracts

The blockchain technology offers unprecedented opportunities for transparency through the creation of decentralised general ledgers for specific applications. By integrating the blockchain technology into contracts firm’s yield nearly instantaneous digital proof of a legal interaction between parties. This is only one example of countless opportunities for the blockchain to transform the way law firms manage contracts.

Contract Analysis

Softwares like Kira Systems offer new methods to aggregate large repositories of contracts and swiftly parse these contracts. Software’s like this will provide analytical features and new ways to observe trends in contracts en masse to assist lawyers in practice.

In conclusion, it is my belief that the challenge for 2018 is to actively seek opportunities to integrate already available technologies into the legal profession. Fostering a culture of innovation and dynamism in the face of technologically caused change will prepare legal professionals to take future disruption in-stride.

Mollie O’Connor (TLF QLD)

AI has been a big buzzword in 2017, and there has been increasing discussion about the impact it will have on law firms and the legal profession, and the pros and cons of its implementation. However, the legal profession has not yet moved beyond merely talk and speculation, and we haven’t seen much happen in terms of actual implementation or adoption of AI technologies by big law firms and the wider legal profession.

My legal forecast for 2018 is that the legal profession will be confronted by the impact of AI in a way that they have not been before, and mere discussion of its potential influence will have to shift towards actual reaction and implementation. The responses of law firms and the wider legal profession will have an unpredictable impact on their continued operation and existence into the future. Whether law firms embrace AI technology into their operations will influence whether they will survive over the coming years. I predict that law firms will need to deeply consider AI technology, and their current use of it as a buzzword to demonstrate that they are ‘tech-savvy’ will not be enough going into the future.

Andrew Dibden (TLF NSW)

More talk, less action, little change. No choice.

More talk,

Big firms, who possess the capital which could be deployed to effect real, meaningful change in the legal industry, will continue to eek out growth where scarce opportunities for growth exist. Big firms will continue to assume that their own ignorance of the changes threatening their profession is shared by their clients, who will continue accept an inferior product from “trusted advisers”. They will try to fill their sales with the winds of change, however, puffing about how their “AI-enabled, machine learning, cloud-based fully integrated” solution is groundbreaking and miles ahead of the competition.  

One could speculate as to whether these firms’ amazement with, what is to the tech-savvy, quite mundane outputs, stems from pure ignorance or laziness.  Whether firms are genuinely unaware that the ‘innovation’ they have achieved is technologically “ho hum” or whether, rather than invest in meaningful, revolutionary change, firms would prefer to scale back investment in innovation, while continuing to herald it as the the greatest thing since the automated bread-slicer.

less action

In fact, firms’ current attempts at innovation will sate the appetites of the entrenched management who are simply seeking to adorn their firm in the sleek gloss of the digital revolution and the growth in innovation initiatives will slow. The During-Kruger effect will take hold and firms who fail to properly address the knowledge asymmetry that exists between their management and the junior members of staff will have the dual effects of:

  • leading management to erroneously believe that the changes they have implemented are adequate to both protect their firm from the threat of disruption and retain their more technologically adept junior staff, and
  • exposing these firms to greater business risk as smaller firms marshal their resources behind initiatives which are set to change the face of the industry.

Firms need to critically assess who is in charge of assessing the adequacy of their innovation initiatives and ensure that an adequately critical eye is applied to the task.

little change.

More broadly law firms and lawyers will fail to confront the fundamental substance of the disruption occurring in their industry. Conversations will skirt flirtatiously about the “how” of law (i.e. the method through which legal services are delivered), rather than boldly scaling the depths of the “what” (i.e. tackling the existential question of “what does it mean to be a lawyer in 2018?”).

Lawyers and policy-makers alike need to start to articulate an answer to this question to ensure that the job of “lawyer” and the professionals in pursuit of it remain focused, and more importantly, relevant to community needs.

No choice.

The biggest risk with the bleak portrait of the profession I have penned above is that readers will take my prediction as a promise.  It is not.  It is a view of things to come based on current trends.  But current trends are just that, current, and if you don’t like them, make new ones.

I hope that in 12 months I look ridiculous for having put to paper such a pessimistic view of the legal profession.  But at this stage, I’m looking far more reasonable than ridiculous.

Sophie Tversky (TLF VIC)

Education

The discussion regarding changes to legal education is just beginning. I think in 2018 there will be greater involvement and discussion with Regulatory bodies regarding skills sets required to meet the demands and changes of the evolving legal industry. The difficulty is to set a curriculum that can weather unseeable changes in the market place. However, I do think that greater cross-disciplinary collaboration between Faculties, an understanding of legal business and tech literacy will be on the rise and setting in motion shifts so that some of these can be introduced within curriculum. I hope that there will be an equal push for developing EQ-related skills. It would be great to see industry, academia, students and Regulatory bodies come together to visualise a curriculum to provide students with the skills they need for the fourth industrial revolution.

Focus on diversity of thought

Terri Mottershead at the Melbourne Centre for Legal Innovation  ‘To Code or Not to Code?’ event, discussed the ‘rise of the aggregator firm’, firms constituted and managed by different skillsets in addition to legal minds. It will be interesting to see whether there is a shift to decentralised structures, maybe not in 2018 but I believe there will be a shift in the commonality of the business model in future. I think there will be an increase in firms merging with technology-based companies or investing in their own start- ups. There is a universal recognition that embracing different skillsets is necessary and the importance and rise of lateral hires, however I think there will be a shift in discussing how we go about communicating, constructing and working in teams which carry different value propositions and priorities. This is underpinned by creating cultures that value contributions across the board and the spirit of inquiry.

Refocus on the people – access to justice

2017 was filled with discussion about AI and how this will change lawyers’ work. I feel in 2018, there will be increasing discussion regarding the way innovation can transform accessibility to legal information and justice. Technology will play an integral part but I also think there will be a re-focus on human-centric redesigning of process (e.g. communication pathways, fee structures, accessibility of lawyers and legal information).

Implementation of technology

The narrative regarding technology is likely to widen and refocus on questioning, experimenting and sharing learnings such as how do organisations effectively implement technology, how do we find the balance between the human element and technology within an organisation and how do organisations find new ways of effectively balancing risk and expenditure, technology development and the iteration processes of new products within a law firm?

I agree with Chris, I think AI, Blockchain and machine learning are in their infancy stage in terms of their implementation and it will be interesting to see their further impact on practice.

Client-firm technology collaborations will be on the rise in 2018, increasing visibility of trajectories of client matters and the role of the Legal Project Manager, Technologist, Legal Designer and Legal Engineer will be of increasing importance.

Sebastian Cross (TLF VIC)

I think overall, 2018 will see an increase in the adoption of innovative ways of providing legal services across all levels of the market. As technology assisted review (TAR) and contract automation skills become necessary requirements of members of the profession, the ‘buzz’ surrounding these technologies will fade and they will simply become the norm.

Adaptation of Technology

The threat that firms may fall behind will be realised in 2018, and investments into increasing technological capacities will undoubtedly be at the forefront of many firm’s strategies leading into the new year.

I think that this will result in the solidification of the divide between firms who have the ability and willingness to implement changes in the way that legal services are provided, and those that don’t. Firms must work with their clients in trialling and testing new ways of producing deliverables or face the threat of obsolescence.

The role of smaller and mid-size firms who have neither the agility, willingness nor the capital to embrace new practices that meet the increasing demands of sophisticated clients remains to be seen. The less risk averse the firm, the more likely that firm will be able to sustain themselves.

The ‘Non-Lawyer’

The role of the non-lawyer will only become more and more important to legal practice as time goes on. Legal project managers, process engineers, knowledge managers, pricing experts and most importantly legal technologists have quickly become integral to the practice of law in Australia. I believe 2018 will formalise the necessity of these positions in the market, and in turn create new and alternative career pathways for law graduates.

Education & Recruitment

2018 will only see firms continue to increase the diversity of characteristics they seek when recruiting their junior lawyers. Soft skills, intricate commercial understanding, tech literacy and openness to new ways of working will become of paramount importance for tomorrow’s graduates, if they aren’t already.

As a result, the education landscapes in which the LLB and the JD are taught will continue to evolve, as it has been in recent years. Australian law schools are rapidly designing and implementing courses relating to change management and technology in order to future-proof graduates. These ‘alternative’ and sought after skills will become more prevalent in course structures over next 12 months as law schools attempt to equip their students with the necessary skills and mindsets to tackle the rapidly changing industry.

Iain McGregor-Lowndes (TLF QLD)

Initial Coin Offerings


We have had the first official word from ASIC regarding the new fundraising model of initial coin offerings (ICO) in September of this year. The information sheet confirms that many of the provisions of the Corporations 2001 (Cth) will apply to ICO’s dependent on which preexisting regulatory box the ICO can be put into (as a derivative, managed investment scheme, crowd-sourced funding etc).  It is likely that ASIC is working on a clearer regulatory direction for ICO’s in 2018. Hopefully, it will strike a balance between the current mostly unregulated framework which allows greater access to smaller investors and the strict and expensive compliance requirements of initial public offerings.


Smaller firms packing a bigger punch


The current structure of most mid-tier and top-tier firms which often has each partner or team running an isolated business unit does not lend itself for firm-wide uptake of new technologies. I believe we will see more small law firms started by young senior lawyers from large firms who leverage technology much more effectively.  These firms will continue to chip away at the client base of larger law firms by providing a quicker, cheaper and more effective service.

What is legal design? | Q&A with Meera Sivanathan (Legal Designer)

Meera is a lawyer turned legal designer originally from Australia and now based in Helsinki, Finland.

Meera

The last time Meera and I saw one another (circa 2011) we were both studying at Bond University on the Gold Coast. I was studying film and Meera was studying law / commerce.

In film school we focused on creativity and design.  I can say from experience that law school is typically not focused on these things… and at least in Australia, you have to sign up to events like Disrupting Law to find the intersection of creativity + law (#sorrynotsorry for the shameless plug)!

Today, on the back of an impressive legal career both in Australia and now in Finland, it is Meera who is leading the charge in bringing a creative and design-centric mindset to the provision of legal services.

“Legal design” is a super exciting (albeit little understood) concept and catching up with Meera was an awesome opportunity to find out more.

Q&A

Meera, thank you for speaking with us Legal Forecasters!  We are intrigued by many aspects of your impressive career and particularly your move to Helsinki, your work with the Legal Design Summit, and your new role as Lead Legal Designer at Dottir Attorneys.

  1. First off, how did one of our best and brightest Aussie lawyers end up in Helsinki?   

Long story short, some new and cool opportunities came along for my partner and I in Helsinki, Finland. We decided it was the right time to make the move to the Nordics/Europe and have been making the most of it ever since. 

  1. Is the vibe of the legal profession in Finland any different to ours in Australia? 

In general, people and companies adopt a really forward-thinking mindset here in Helsinki, which extends to the legal profession. Passion for technology, design and innovation are longstanding components of the Finnish DNA with companies such as gaming giant Supercell and events like Slush (Europe’s largest start-up event founded and held in Helsinki) changing the way things are done.

This mindset, geared to disrupting the status quo and evolving with the times is embraced within the legal industry here in Finland. Amazing legal events and initiatives such as the world’s first and largest Legal Design Summit are born in Finland and gaining global recognition quickly – it’s great to be a part of this positive vibe. 

  1. What tips do you have for other Aussie legal professionals who want to follow in your footsteps and work in Europe?   

The opportunities are definitely out there. Do your research to gain an understanding of the legal environment and the firms and companies leading the way in your region of interest. It’s important to determine what you want to reap from your time working abroad. This will help you make the right choice in terms of work opportunities. Also, don’t be shy to reach out to contacts in your broader network. Based on my experience, Australians are warmly welcomed all over Europe as we tend to have a great reputation for our strong work ethic and friendly nature.

Legal Design 

  1. Can you explain what the term “legal design” actually means?  

Legal design is the application of design-thinking principles to the practice of law, to make legal systems, products, services and processes more useful, useable, understandable and engaging for all.

Presently, contracts are mainly drafted by lawyers for lawyers, our court systems are not easily navigable, terms & conditions and privacy policies are incomprehensible for most consumers and company internal policies and legal obligations are often little understood by staff. This has resulted in a large disconnect between the law, lawyers, companies and the end users of legal information and services.

With legal design, we can change this through a human-centered approach in which the users’ needs, wants and desires are first identified and then used as a basis to design and develop solutions. The result is legal information and services that are transparent, accessible, visually clearer and as mentioned above, useable, understandable, useful and engaging. When applied in a strategic manner, legal design can improve performance, innovation, brand perception, audience engagement, conversion rates and many other metrics.

  1. When did you first come across the concept?  

I’ve had the curiosity for combining creativity within the legal practice for quite some time. After several years working as a lawyer I decided to pursue this further. At the start of the year I was 1 of 16 people selected to complete a Master’s program fully focused on design-thinking at Aalto University, which is one of the world’s top design universities.

As for the concept of legal design itself; I guess it started from conversations with Jaakko Lindgren and Antti Innanen of Dottir Attorneys, who were already spearheading the legal design movement globally.

  1. What is the Legal Design Summit and what was your role as part of it? 

The Legal Design Summit (LDS) is the world’s first and largest legal design conference founded and held in Helsinki, Finland. It brings together international professionals in the fields of law, design and digital services to discuss and explore how human-centered design can transform the world of law.

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This year, I had the immense honor of hosting the LDS. In just its second year, over 600 people from around the world gathered collectively to form the world’s largest legal design movement – creating an inspiring atmosphere for change and validating the concept of design-thinking in the law. More information from this year’s LDS can be found here: http://www.legaldesignsummit.com.47

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Photo is of Justin North (Janders Dean, and TLF Advisory Board), and Joe May (Janders Dean, and TLF United Kingdom) who presented at the Legal Design Summit. 

7. Where should people look for more information about legal design?  

Currently, I’m co-authoring a book on legal design with Antti Innanen and Johanna Rantanen – both recognized thought leaders in legal design, co-founders of the Legal Design Summit and Partners at Dottir Attorneys. It’s a privilege to be working with them. The book includes insights from other leading professionals involved in the legal design movement and should be published soon…watch this space.

In the meantime, great resources can be found on the Legal Design Lab website, written by Margaret Hagan of Stanford University.

  1. How did you nab your new role as Lead Legal Designer at Dottir Attorneys and what will be your “day-to-day”?  Congratulations by the way!

Thanks Milan. It’s certainly exciting to be one of the world’s first legal designers.

My role as Lead Legal Designer arose after meeting the team at Dottir Attorneys who were already forging the legal design movement globally. With my background in law and my ongoing masters in design-thinking, and their growing company, it was the perfect match.

My day-to-day routine is exciting and fulfilling. It’s a combination of client focused work and workshops as well as external projects within the legal design space such as co-authoring a book and hosting events. Clients include private and public companies as well as legal and academic institutions. There is no ‘typical’ legal design project. I’m fortunate to work alongside talented service designers and researchers to solve an array of legal challenges – from redesigning contracts to make them more engaging, to prototyping new online legal platforms and designing better ways to communicate legal information and privacy policies on apps. We’ve also been quite busy planning and launching Dot. – a brand new sister company for Dottir Attorneys focusing solely on legal design.

  1. Do you have a view on the importance of creativity in professional services more broadly?

Every company is looking for that competitive edge. Encouraging creativity amongst staff and including those with creative backgrounds in the decision-making process can help bring on board that special x-factor solution, idea or approach that may set a company apart from the pack. Design lead companies such as Apple, Nike and PepsiCo are evidence of this. Understanding the value and benefits of creativity and incorporating it strategically is a key factor to success for professional services.

  1. Do you have a Legal Forecast. how is the legal world going to change in the next 10 – 15 years?  

The legal industry is ripe for disruption. Aside from the obvious automation and streamlining resulting from new technologies like AI, we will also see a shift in the way legal services are provided and the way legal challenges are tackled. The new age law firm will comprise both traditional legal teams as well as interdisciplinary teams of lawyers, researchers, technologists, designers and other professionals. In these interdisciplinary teams, professionals will collaborate and combine competencies to devise new ways to solve complex legal challenges as well as collaborate to design better customer experiences that bridge any disconnect between lawyer and client.

  1. Do you have any parting tips for law students?   

Work hard. Be authentic, be kind. Figure out what makes you tick and go for it wholeheartedly.

Questionner: Milan Gandhi (TLF).

Future of Sports Law – Part 2 | Rahul Gandhi (ESL)

Welcome to Part 2 of our two-part series on eSports and the future of sports law.  Today Milan chats with Rahul Gandhi (his cousin!) about what it’s like to work in legal services for ESL, originally the “Electronic Sports League”, and some of the legal issues commonly encountered on the job.  ESL organises eSports competitions worldwide and is the largest eSports company to broadcast on Twitch.

2

 

What is eSports?

Simply put, esports is an umbrella term that encompasses the playing of videogames in an organised and competitive manner.

What is ESL, what is your role at ESL and how did you land such an epic gig?

Electronic Sports League (ESL) is the world’s largest and longest-running esports organisation. We cater to the esports ecosystem in any way we can whether it’s organising and hosting large scale competitions across the world, running national leagues to give amateur players a path to becoming a professisonal, creating esports entertainment content or working towards furthering the industry. An example of the latter would be ESL partnering up with universities to provide esports modules taught by our very own staff!

I work in the legal team at ESL UK which essentially involves drafting, reviewing and negotiating various contracts. The workload varies considerably and encompasses many areas of law such as contract law, corporate law, intellectual property law and employment law. I also assist in business development by attending various events – though this isn’t strictly part of my role – I just love going to events and meeting people!

I actually got the role by attending a careers fair at a gaming expo. James Dean, the Managing Director of ESL UK (great name, I know!), gave a talk about careers opportunities in the esports industry. I had been trying to find a way to turn my passion for videogames into a career. I spoke to James at the end of his talk, emailed him my CV and… well the rest is history!

What has been your funnest day at work so far?

That’s a tough question – I’ve certainly had some very rewarding days at work. For example I assisted in negotiating a contract for a first-of-its-kind event for a large non-endemic company. It was tricky because the company had never been involved with esports before so explaining some of the legal issues that are unique to esports was challenging. But we eventually worked out all the kinks and came to an agreement. The event went ahead smoothly and seeing the positive buzz around the event (both at the event and on social media) was incredibly rewarding.

As for fun days – I do travel to a few international events which are always great fun! Back in August I attended Europe’s largest videogames expo, Gamescom, in Cologne, Germany. ESL’s headquarters are in Cologne so it was an awesome meeting some of my international colleagues, meeting the creators/developers/writers/artists behind some of the games I love and of course playing the latest and greatest games early!

What is the eSports “community” like?  What are the good things and what are the bad things?

The esports community is an interesting one. It is so vast that it is hard for me to give a general impression of it. However, if I had to sum it up in one word I’d say ‘passionate’. For better or for worse the esports community is extremely passionate. It is this passion that has allowed the industry to grow to where it is today and will be crucial in growing it further.

One of best things about my experience of the esports community is it dispels some of the stereotypes surrounding ‘gamers’ such as: they stay indoors all day or that they are socially awkward etc etc – having been to various esports events over the last year and making many new friends I can say with certainty that this is not the case! Attending events in person is the best way to see just how social it all is.

I wouldn’t say there are any particularly bad things about the esports community as a whole – one of the ongoing issues is ‘toxicity’ or online abuse in esports. Unfortunately the anonymity of the internet leads to a minority of players displaying ‘toxic’ behaviour to other players. This could come in the form of abuse toward newer players that are of a lower skill level than them or ‘trolling’ where players purposely disrupt the flow of the game or other players. The effect is that newer players feel discouraged from playing and engaging with the community – which is the exact opposite of what we as an industry want.

Traditional sports are associated with physical health, exercise and wellness.  Computer gaming doesn’t carry these connotations (and as far as I know Wii Sport does not have a pro tour) but, in your opinion, are there positive things that eSports should be known for?

I’m glad you brought this up. I absolutely think there are positive things! So called ‘traditional’ sports encompass a large variety of sports which don’t necessary fit the above categories. Sports such as darts, archery, snooker and golf (to name a few) don’t necessarily require the athlete to be in peak physical condition. What they do require is training, discipline and extreme technical skill all of which are, of course, highly regarded in their own right. These principals apply equally esports.

Professional players learn every aspect of a game and its mechanics and in doing so develop a deep understanding of it – much more than any casual player would have. They must be disciplined in doing this. Many professional players have strict practice regimes when preparing for competitions which involve a combination of activities such as meticulously studying potential opponents, coming together to develop new strategies to win and of course testing these strategies by practicing – it not as simple as just playing the game a lot!

As for technical skill, players often have unreal reflexes and hand-eye coordination. They often have to react to what they see as the game develops and make split second decisions as well as adapt their overall strategy on the fly. Skills such as communication, decision making, teamwork as all crucial to the majority of esport titles and are certainly positive skills that should be associated with it.

What are the main games that are played professionally in eSports?  Which is the most competitive and what kind of prize pools are we seeing these days?

There are a huge number of games that have a competitive/professional scene and it is hard to say which is the most competitive as the scene varies so greatly from game to game. If I had to give a top three I’d say the most popular games at the moment are Dota2, League of Legends and Counter Strike: Global Offensive though games such as Player Unknown Battlegrounds (PUBG), Overwatch, Rocket League, Quake Champions, Tekken, Street Fighter and Hearthstone follow closely.

As with the titles themselves the prize pools can vary greatly from depending on the game itself and the size, scale and prestige of the competition. Prize pools can be anywhere between a few thousand pounds to more than ten million pounds!

At the top of the spectrum would have to be Dota2’s ‘The International’. Without going too far into the ins and outs of the tournament scene, The International is by far the largest and most prestigious competition in the Dota2 tournament circuit. For context the competition was started in 2011 and had a prize pool of $1.6m. In August 2017 the prize pool for the main event of The International was in excess of $24.7m!

What factors are important in turning a videogame into an esport title worthy of professional competition?

There are a couple of crucial factors. Firstly the game needs to be skill based – if a game contains too many elements based on randomness it creates problems. For example a team could train for hours, days and weeks only to lose due to being unlucky with a random element that is impossible to prepare against. It is not conducive to creating a strong professional scene.

Tying into the first point is that the game should have a high skill cap. Simply put, the game should make it possible for players to differentiate their level of skill based on their time spent learning and playing the game. This could come in various forms – for example it could be via its mechanics. In Counter-Strike professional players have near pixel perfect accuracy which can only be developed by extensively playing the game and practicing. Another example would be providing the player with lots of options/decisions to make. League of Legends has over 120 characters, each with significantly different abilities and play styles. Understanding how each character’s abilities work, how these abilities interact with other characters’ abilities, composing a team with abilities that synergise and finally developing a strategy to defeat your opponent is something that only the most dedicated players will achieve.

Lastly, I think that the game needs to be fun to watch as well as play. There would be little point to having professional competitions if nobody watched them! Esports are strongly community driven and without spectators watching professional competitions the scene would eventually fade away.

What is going to happen to present day eSports athletes when the games they are experts on become “outdated”?

One option is to adopt a new title. In some cases the game that they were an expert in will spawn a sequel that they will get into. For example if FIFA17 was your game and it became outdated when FIFA18 came out, the player might just move over. Depending on the type of game there might be transferable skills. If you played first person shooter titles, say Halo for example – it might be easier for you to switch to another title such (say, Quake for example) because they are both first person shooting games and a player’s pixel perfect accuracy may translate over to the new game without having to go through all of the practice that a new player would.

It is worth noting that the lifespan of some of these games can be longer than a player’s career! League of Legends has been around for nearly a decade!

In the event the player doesn’t feel like taking up a new title they may retire and either take up another role in the industry either as an analyst or commentator for another, similar game (for example there were professional Street Fighter players that now commentate on games like Tekken or Mortal Kombat).

Or, of course, they may just leave the industry entirely and do something completely different – who knows!

What are the main professional competitions and how do we join up?

These vary based on the game – each game is so different that there is no standard structure to how the competitions work. Usually there will be regional and national qualifiers which will lead into the international tournaments.

**Shameless plug incoming** at ESL we have a ladder system called ESL Play. Essentially anyone can make an account, form a team and enter online competitions. If your team gains enough points in a season, they will qualify for the ESL UK Premiership and if they finish high enough in the Premiership they will move into the ESL Pro League. Strong results in the Pro League may see your team ending up on an international stage at one of the major events – where the big prize money is!

This is ESL’s ‘path to pro’ idea to facilitate amateur players making it to the big one but different games have different systems and it would take an age to explain them all!

Other than the prizes, where does the real money come from in the eSports industry and who is making it?  Is it in live streaming? Is it in gambling?

It really depends on what perspective you’re looking at it from – a player, a team, an organisation such as ESL, a publisher etc. For example let’s take players – in additional to a cut of any prize money won, they will earn a wage from the team. They may also live stream and earn revenue from their subscribers/viewers. Teams are often sponsored which provides them with a revenue stream as well as things such as merchandise sales. It gets a bit more complicated when looking at other organisations and the publishers so I won’t get into the ins and outs of it here! The main point to note is that there are a variety of different revenue streams depending on which perspective you look at it from.

One of the hot topics at the moment is the monetisation of broadcast/media rights as a revenue stream. It would certainly be an important one but the problem is how to actually go about achieving it. We need to remember that esports as a spectator sport really took off when websites like Twitch appeared allowing millions of people around the world to watch live broadcasts around the world for free. Changing this too drastically – i.e. making esports events pay-per-view or broadcasting them on premium channels that require payment to view, could upset the fans and potentially decrease viewership.

Just to touch on gambling, in some respects I would consider that a separate industry. Obviously esports gambling is intrinsically linked to esports – whether you’re betting on the outcome of a professional match or gambling in-game items on betting sites (though this is a separate issue in itself!). However, in terms of the monetary aspects of gambling I think it is separate because it is a different group that benefit – i.e. it’s not the teams, players, organisations like ESL or publishers etc that benefit.

As you’ve said to me before, “a key difference between traditional sports and esports is that in esports the game is owned by an entity” – does this cause legal complications for the pro tours and others?

Yes, that’s right. Nobody owns the sport of football for example. But, for example, League of Legends is owned by Riot Games and Counter Strike is owned by Valve Corporation. It does add some complications – one area in particular that can become problematic is rules and regulations. Depending on the publisher, they may want more of an active role in choosing the rules and regulations for a competition and these rules may conflict or be significantly different from what the tournament organiser would have chosen. It can be also be confusing for players and teams as different tournaments for the same game may have different rules and regulations.

Also, not necessarily related to competitions directly, but there can be complications when it comes to intellectual property – particularly licensing. The publisher owns the game and there can be situations where a competition is held that the publisher is not necessarily involved in, i.e. they give permission for the competition to go ahead but they let it be run independently of them. This can give rise to situations where third parties require additional licences when it comes to permission to broadcast, stream, create video on demand or use content for other purposes such as advertising and social media. It’s not necessarily a complication but rather just additional work and the fact that there needs to be an awareness that these additional steps need to be taken.

What areas of law are relevant to eSports and what are some of the day to day legal issues you contend with at ESL?

Many areas of law relate to esports but in terms of what I deal with on a day to day basis a lot of it is contract, commercial and/or corporate law. Areas like intellectual property sometimes come into it, depending on the type of deal/transaction. I also assist with internal matters that relate to areas such as employment law and data protection.

The majority of my work is drafting and/or reviewing various legal documents such as non-disclosure agreements, head of terms, commercial contracts, sponsorship/partnership agreements and talent contracts (talent being people like commentators, stage hosts, analysts etc). I also occasionally assist on internal matters such as updating policies/guidelines in compliance with changes to the law.

We read about the “Flight” match fixing scandal – do you think the danger of corruption in eSports is over or just beginning, and what do you think are the major risks to the integrity of eSports?

It’s hard to say whether it’s over or just beginning, but I think what’s more important is that it is an issue that is getting more consideration. As the industry grows and prize pools increase, you could say that the appeal of match-fixing and corruption increases because there’s more money involved. But the fact that organisations are appearing to guard the integrity of esports is a step in the right direction. For example ESL works with the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) when it comes to ensuring integrity in our competitions.

There are a couple of major risks that will always be problematic. Firstly, technology evolves so quickly and can be adapted in so many ways that it can sometimes be difficult to recognise when it is being used. In cases like this it is very difficult to stay one step ahead as it is hard to predict how this technology will manifest itself. Another issue is when players work with others such as bettors or betting syndicates and purposely lose a match in order to gain financially. As I said earlier playing professional esports requires an enormous amount of skill and practice – it is difficult to know if a player purposely reacted slowly or purposely missed a shot because the margins are so small. In a game like League of Legends where each player is making hundreds of decisions each game and where one wrong decision could cost a team the match – how can we identify that a decision that lost the game was made on purpose? The answer is “with extreme difficulty!”

Every organisation has their own way to combat this. In ESL’s case every professional competition has referees that know the games inside out that watch the matches being played live and look out for signs of cheating. We also follow the ESIC integrity programme which guides us in how we regulate our professional competitions from an integrity point of view.

But the issue of corruption will always be a threat and is something that the industry as a whole will need to constantly monitor and adapt to.

It’s absolutely awesome that you landed a role with ESL given your dream to turn your passion for eSports into a day job – what advice do you have for others in terms of finding a dream job?

My top tip is to be proactive! A lot of people that wish to find their dream job spend too much time just wishing for it.

I was guilty of doing that for most of my teenage years – growing up I played A LOT of videogames. I became so enamoured with the medium that I began closely following industry news/trends and subsequently daydreamed about one day working in the industry.

I continued to daydream about this for more years than I care to admit. I believed that to work in the games industry you had to be a programmer, an artist, a designer, a writer or have an extremely niche technical skill at some element of game or (in the case of esports) tournament production in areas such as AV, lighting, video editing etc.

It was only after I began going to events, speaking to people and trying to find out more about the opportunities in the industry that I discovered a whole series of roles in areas such as sales, marketing, HR and of course legal!

So if you have a dream job, don’t just wish for it – be proactive and go for it. You’ll be surprised at just how many opportunities there are!

 

If you would like to be interviewed or offer your thoughts on a recent event, book or article, please contact our Editor In Chief, Michael Bidwell, at mbidwell@mccullough.com.au

Future of Sports Law – Part 1 | Ian Smith (eSports Integrity Coalition)

Welcome to Part 1 of our two-part series on eSports and the future of sports law.  Today Milan chats with Ian Smith, the Integrity Commissioner of the eSports Integrity Coalition (“ESIC”).  ESIC aims to be the recognised guardian of the sporting integrity of eSports and to take responsibility for disruption, prevention, investigation and prosecution of all forms of cheating, including, but not limited to, match manipulation and doping.

Ian Smith the ESIC integrity commissioner poses for a picture at the Fnatic Bunkr on March 8th 2017 in London (Photo by Tom Jenkins)
Ian Smith the ESIC integrity commissioner poses for a picture at the Fnatic Bunkr on March 8th 2017 in London (Photo by Tom Jenkins)

Why did you enter a career in sports law and governance?  What was the impetus for you personally?

I was always a big fan of sports and reasonably good at most sports without being outstanding at anything in particular. I found, as my legal career progressed, that I knew a lot of elite sportsmen through school, university and army and they needed a lawyer, particularly when rugby union went professional in the mid-nineties and more and more South African sportsmen came to the UK to play rugby, cricket and golf. I soon worked out there was a career to be made out of being a trusted advisor to professional sportsmen and I deliberately set out to foster that. From those haphazard beginnings, I developed an expertise in sports governance and regulation and the way in which sport is run has become a lifelong obsession.

Please tell us a bit about ESIC, its history, and its work.  What is your role at ESIC?

ESIC came about because it seemed the only logical response, given the nature of the esports industry, to the question of what to do about the various integrity threats identified by our risk assessment in the Autumn of 2015. As there was no governing body or obvious “center” to the industry, the only way to combat a common threat was to persuade individual stakeholder to come together to address it and, so, the Coalition idea was born. We exist, as per our mission statement, to be the recognised guardian of the sporting integrity of esports and to take responsibility for disruption, prevention, investigation and prosecution of all forms of cheating, including, but not limited to, match manipulation and doping. Everything is explained on the website www.esportsintegrity.com My role is to oversee and enforce the ESIC Programme – the combination of rules and regulations we operate as the foundation of our mission. The Programme gives me a lot of power, so I have to be accountable to the members of ESIC and responsible in my exercise of authority. It’s a role I’m grateful for and humbled by.

What spurred your transition into eSports?

In the summer of 2015 I was asked to do an integrity threat assessment of esports by a media company. The more I discovered and the more the work progressed, the more interested I became in esports, both in terms of how it was similar to traditional sports, but also, of course, in how it differed. It gave me a new lease of life – I had become stale and somewhat disillusioned in traditional sports.

Given your considerable experience in traditional sports (and particularly cricket), were you well equipped for the new role as ESIC’s Integrity Commissioner or was it a steep learning curve?

Getting to grips with esports itself and understanding the ecosystem was a steep learning curve because, prior to the autumn of 2015 I didn’t know esports existed. From a governance and regulation perspective, though, my life in traditional sport made me well suited to the role of Integrity Commissioner because, as the saying goes, there’s nothing new under the sun. The same issues faced by traditional sports in the areas of integrity and corruption face esports in exactly the same way. Fortunately, I was/am a gamer, so the video games themselves were no mystery to me; what was a mystery was how each game title had its own community, its own vertical, its own culture and its own relationship between publisher, tournament organiser, teams, players and fans.

What do you say to those who doubt that competitive computer gaming is really a sport?

Whether esports is a sport is a fun argument over a beer, but it’s largely irrelevant. In many aspects, esports mirrors traditional sports and in many ways it doesn’t. Personally, I’ve come to the opinion that it is a sport, but who cares what I think? I think esports should just continue doing its thing and not become distracted with trying to be thought of as a sport alongside traditional sports, trying to get into the Olympics or set up governance structures like traditional sports. Those structures are not exactly a shining example of success are they?

What is the difference between a gamer who is a hobbyist and an eSports athlete?

The gulf between a casual gamer and a professional esports athlete is precisely the same as they gulf between a kid kicking a ball in his back yard and Lionel Messi – the gap really is that big and the pros really are that good. A decent CS:GO pro would beat a team of 5 casual gamers on his own without breaking a sweat.

What is the role of sports in society?

This is too big a question to answer properly in an email – as a pragmatist (or perhaps a cynic) I would say sport exists to entertain and distract us, but it has wider implications for health, cooperation, education and so on… but these are accidental benefits – mostly it’s just about having fun.

Do you believe there are certain “moral values” at the heart of sports and if so what are they?

I think the idea that there are moral values at the heart of sport is overblown. I think people acquire their values from numerous influences and I think sport plays its part in that, but I think what ultimately ensures integrity in sport is good rules and regulations properly enforced – history has taught us that you can’t rely on people to “do the right thing” when money or medals are on the line. Occasionally, people do the right thing and it’s refreshing and uplifting, but you can never take it for granted.

Are these values visible in eSports?  Are there unique values in the eSports world?

Our recent survey into appropriate sanctions for cheating in esports shows that the esports community has certain values that differ from those broadly held in traditional sports, but they’re on the same spectrum. Human nature is human nature and esports players and fans are no different.

The integrity of sports seems to be under attack at the highest levels – the FIFA corruption scandal and the Russian doping scandal come to mind.   In your view, why do these failures occur?

Greed and the desire for power drive the corruption and bad governance allows it. The minute you mix money and integrity, integrity will almost always come second – you have to separate those functions out, which is why ESIC is not for profit, has no commercial programme and is not owned by anyone – it belongs to the members – no one has equity in ESIC; not me, not anyone.

Are the same threats confronting eSports?

Not the same threats – esports exist in a purely commercial context. They are for profit and, as such, the sort of corruption that might emerge is more akin to corporate fraud and corruption than sports governance corruption.

Are new threats confronting eSports that we’ve not before witnessed in traditional sports?

Yes – the technology involved in digital sports mean that the way in which someone might cheat or rig an outcome is very different to cheating in traditional sports. There is also the fact that the digital nature of the industry means it is possible to create fake competitions to manipulate betting markets and I think it’s highly likely that’s already happening.

What are the unique challenges in terms of the regulation of eSports?

The lack of a center to the industry is the greatest challenge -there’s nowhere to go to address governance issues in esports

Presumably the level of technology involved and the fact that computer games are privately owned by companies make for certain complications.

Yes – the fact that someone “owns the ball” and can take it away on a whim or change its shape or size presents a serious challenge on a number of levels. This is one of the reasons that ESIC deliberately keeps its focus very narrow – we want to address a core common problem that affects all game titles played in esports before we go on to look at other regulatory challenges. Let’s get this right first before we start trying to fix everything.

Where do you see the opportunities in eSports law for aspiring lawyers and do you have any tips for those who want to follow in your footsteps?

Because the industry is still in its infancy there are a lot of opportunities, but, just like every area of legal practice, it’s much more about who you know that what you know. The easiest way in is to represent players by being part of the scene in a particular game title and develop a client base. Of course, joining a firm with an existing esports or gaming practice is a good way in too. Remember that any client will (and should) take it for granted that you know what you’re doing from a legal perspective, so he will choose to use you because you look after him or her well, make them feel special and solve their problems – knowing the law is a small part of the picture – knowing the sector, how it works, who’s important in it and how to get to them is the most important element.

 

If you would like to be interviewed or offer your thoughts on a recent event, book or article, please contact our Editor In Chief, Michael Bidwell, at mbidwell@mccullough.com.au

JD Legal Horizons Conference Review

Janders Dean Legal Horizons Conference 2017

Review by Josephine Bird (TLF QLD)

On the 20th of September, The Legal Forecast headed to Sydney for the Janders Dean Legal Horizons Conference, 2017. We had the chance to listen to and engage with legal and tech professionals from around the world, all of whom are dedicated to legal innovation. We were also lucky enough to watch two previous Disrupting Law contestants, Sam Cleary and Liz Ulrich, give a presentation on their journey after Disrupting Law 2017. We therefore thought it important to provide a recap of what we learnt over the two day conference.

#1 – Storytelling is important in driving disruption

The conference was opened with a message that lies at the heart of what the JD horizons conference was all about, being that we must ‘disrupt our norm’. Jeremy Donovan from Walking With Wisdom spoke with passion and sincerity about how his background could have entrapped him into a life of insignificance, however, by challenging the life he’d always known, he was able to create change. Jeremy now travels the world sharing his stories and empowering others to make changes in their lives. We believe that this sentiment can be applied to the legal profession, in that by sharing our stories and struggles, we can drive connectedness, create change, and empower each other to achieve our potential.

Disrupting Law alumni Sam and Liz doing us proud!

#2 – Big data and legal analytic tools are on the rise

Beth Patterson, Chief Legal & Technology Services Officer of Allens explained that 90 % of the world’s existing data has been created in the past two years. The legal profession creates an ever-increasing amount of data – being judicial rulings, precedents and interpretations. Innovation around the way in which law firms use big data sets is imperative to efficiency of future practice and delivering legal work at scale. General Manager of LexisNexis, Simon Wilkins, explained that big data is and will be increasingly important in improving client service and performance. Lawyers can employ analytics to structure these data sets to extract the most relevant information pertaining to their case. Simon drew links to Facebook, who he described as the ‘data master of the world’, producing approximately 4.75 billion pieces of content per day.

At the beginning of this year, Facebook conducted a study wherein it manipulated content published on approximately 700,000 users newsfeeds to determine how users respond to positive and negative content. Ethical issues aside, the use of big data in this way could work to predict mental illness in Facebook users. Simon posed the question: how do you stay on top of data when you have so much of it? This is where artificial intelligence comes in. Data driven systems can employ learning algorithms to decipher and analyse big data sets. Such as predicting mental illness in Facebook users, the use of probability analysis of past precedent can assist in predicting percentage of success in current cases.

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 #3 – AI is the future

The increase in research around artificial intelligence processes and use of algorithms to analyse big data is not a new phenomenon, and the idea that AI is the future of the legal profession is not an entirely new lesson to learn. However, what we learnt about how AI will affect our futures provided us insight in regards to how law students and lawyers can engage and interact with technology moving forward.

AI can be a difficult topic to grasp, and is notoriously difficult to define. Tax Technology & Innovation Manager of KPMG, Peter Xing, explained AI in it’s broadest term as applying to any technique that enables computers to mimic human intelligence using logic and rules. Beth Patterson (Allens) also identified three arms of AI which will have/are having a major impact on the legal industry: speech recognition, natural language processing, and machine learning.

Global FinTech leader, Astrid Raetze, discussed the reality that it is approximately 5-8 years before AI replaces lower end work in law firms. The increased use of AI will impact available jobs, yes. However, it will also change the types of roles we have, being more advisory than technical legal work. With liquid workforces like Hive Legal and new areas of competition arising (i.e. internet based legal services), lawyers need to learn to adapt. The conference bought with it recurring themes of lawyers needing to be tech savvy, and the reality that technology literate firms are moving forward. Should lawyers and law students therefore learn to code? Not necessarily, but it’s clear that knowledge of this type of technology is becoming increasingly critical in order to deliver great solutions to clients. 

Rach and I enjoying the view from Pier One

#4 – Don’t fear the rise of technology, embrace it

Digital disruption is not new, but it’s at a point where it can be applied in a meaning way in order to democratise access to law. Rajiv Cabraal of Data61 quoted Richard Susskind’s three drivers for change, being (1) cost pressure; (2) liberalism; and (3) technology. On this, he explained that adhering to red tape currently carries a staggering $250 billion annual cost – an issue that Rajiv and the team at Data61 are working to change by creating applications that cut through these dense regulations. Rajiv believes that legal and regulation tech are industries that will thrive from digital disruption, and in his own words, must “wake up and innovate”!

Founder and CEO of checkbox.ai, Evan Wong, posed the question: what can’t be automated? Artificial Intelligence is a rule based system and can only automate structured work. Unstructured work that requires creativity, human interaction and value judgements doesn’t lend itself to computerisation, therefore lawyers should see the rise of technology as an opportunity to spend more time on this ‘meaningful’ aspect of law, rather than boring and mundane tasks. In this way, we learnt that the increased use of technology will allow decision makers to make better decisions. Uncertainty is not a threat, it’s an opportunity.

#5 – Innovation should also be a human endeavour

It was incredibly eye opening to hear that 95% of people within the legal profession suffer from ‘extreme stress’. Caroline Ferguson of Simpson Grierson in Auckland gave us an insightful talk about mental health in the legal industry and the importance of considering lawyer well being in the context of driving innovation. Caroline emphasised that we need to harness people’s struggles to encourage the entire legal profession to have more conversations. It’s important for senior lawyers and partners to share their journey in order to show law students and young professionals that they are not the only one’s who have struggled with stress and mental illness. Caroline’s words were incredibly empowering and with mental health being an ever-increasing issue, it’s important we share our stories and keep the conversation going. Education and awareness is important in creating more human focused businesses.

The legendary John Flood inspiring everyone in the audience, as per usual

#6 – Creativity and culture are key to innovation

Chief Product & Strategy Officer of HighQ, Stuart Barr, expressed a similar sentiment to Caroline Ferguson, in that innovation isn’t just about technology. People drive innovation, therefore allowing people to be creative leads to innovation and the competitive edge that law firms are all trying to achieve. On this, it’s imperative that law firms strive to create a culture in which their employees can actually be creative. Janina Stansson, Senior Lawyer at BUPA, spoke about the work the legal sector of BUPA is doing in order encourage and leverage design thinking, allowing employees to be their genuine selves at work. Janina believes that leaders must not take themselves too seriously, and that law firms need to ‘harness the power of the millennial brain’ when driving creativity and culture.

Monica Parker, founder of Hatch Analytics, drove home this point with the statistic that 94% of lawyers say the more meaning their job has, the more likely they are to be engaged. Monica also spoke about the need for lawyers to communicate more in order to drive connectedness, which in turn will highly benefit business practices as well. She provided a surprising (but also not so surprising) statistic that 71% of lawyers will not take the time to think during the day in fear of being seen as ‘slacking off’ during work hours. Sarah Roach, founder and director of Helix Legal, summarised this lesson perfectly with the statement that ‘innovation must be aligned with employee metrics and creating a good environment!’

#7 – Change happens because we demand it

Morgan Koegel, CEO of One Girl, gave an unbelievably inspiring presentation on the work that One Girl does, bringing education to girls in Africa. Morgan believes that knowledge is the spark that can change the world we live in for the better, and that in order to see change happen, we must demand it and work toward it as a team. In order for the legal profession to grow, we must help drive and the support the change that we demand.

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Justin North ‘doing it in a dress’ for One Girl

Overall, the JD horizons conference was an incredible experience! Thank you to each of the speakers over the two day period who left us with thought provoking and inspiring advice that we can apply to our futures within the legal profession. We would especially like to thank Justin North and the team from Janders Dean for the wonderful opportunity to be involved. We never thought a conference could be as inspiring as it was fun, but you managed to pull it off!

 

If you would like to be interviewed or offer your thoughts on a recent event, book or article, please contact our Editor In Chief, Michael Bidwell, at mbidwell@mccullough.com.au

Continue reading JD Legal Horizons Conference Review

Interview | David Bushby (Lexoo)

Lexoo is the leading curated marketplace for business lawyers in the U.K. and has thus far been responsible for connecting over 6,000 businesses with a panel of experienced independent lawyers.  A key component of the Lexoo business model is the ability of lawyers to pass on the cost savings of having low overhead to their customers allowing them to save in excess of 46% of their legal spend when contrasted with the costs of receiving comparable legal work at a traditional firm.

The Lexoo system works by allowing individuals to post a job request.  After a period of 1 -2  business days, the individual receives three (3) quotes from specialised lawyers hand-picked by the Lexoo team.  Consumers are then provided the opportunity to choose between each quote based on the profiles of each lawyer, their quotes and reviews.

David Bushby is the Managing Director of Lexoo Australia.  He studied Law and Business at Griffith University.  He began his career at King & Wood Mallesons, before working (amongst other positions) as a Legal Manager at Macquarie Bank.  In 2015, David joined Lexoo as Chief Operating Officer in London.  Since that time, David has relocated to Sydney Australia to establish the legal marketplace model in Australia.

David was kind enough to catch up recently with The Legal Forecast to provide us with some insight into his unique take on the future of legal practice and his journey so far.

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David, tell us a little about your background – why did you decide to step into the world of start ups and innovation?

Hey thanks for having me on! Love your work J

I’ve basically spent half of my career practising law and the other half in startups. While I’d love to say I had the courage to give up the corporate life (and salary) to launch my own venture, it didn’t quite work out that way at first. It was a friend of mine who’d launched a startup that I later joined, right when the financial crisis hit – my role at Macquarie was made redundant, so at least I hand a handy pay cheque to carry me through those lean early months.

What was your time at Griffith University like? What was unique about studying law on the Gold Coast?

Brilliant. Loved it. I was such a keen bean and tried to take advantage of every opportunity to help build out the reputation and offering for Griffith Law GC. We were the first cohort to do all our law subjects on the Gold Coast, but we had to fight and lobby for it that’s for sure. Our classes only had about 30 people in them, so there was almost no difference between a lecture and a tutorial – super interactive and we formed a pretty tight knit crew.

You initially began as Chief Operating Officer of Lexoo in the United Kingdom. Could you highlight some of the cultural similarities and differences between the legal landscape in England and Australia?

I think Aussies and Brits are very similar – we love a laugh, share a great sense of humour and don’t mind a drink or two. I found almost no difference dealing with UK lawyers vs. Australian lawyers, and given our own legal system is derived from theirs, it’s a very familiar landscape. Perhaps we’re a little more direct in our communications, whereas Brits might tend to qualify their words a bit more – something actually prefer and have tried adopt in my own communications.

We have read that the start up culture is more developed in England and that venture capitalists are more willing to invest in start ups than in Australia. Did you find this to be the case?

Absolutely. Leaving Sydney I thought we had a thriving start up scene (which we do) but it’s next level in London. And so it should be. Almost everything in London is next level. It’s not just the size of the UK market, it’s the whole European market that feeds into the UK (although Brexit is an obvious threat to that) both in terms of investment dollars and talent pool. That means more VCs, more funding, more startups in a country whose policy settings are far more advanced at promoting entrepreneurship than Australia’s – equity crowdfunding is totally the norm in the UK for example.

Would you say that law firms in England are more or less equipped than firms in Australia to adopt new legal technology?

Prior to moving to England I thought perhaps Aussie firms were more progressive on the the tech front than the English firms. That was coming from feedback from those in Aussie firms that had been taken over/merged with English firms. My sense is that Australian firms were pretty quick to start innovating, but the English firms are now very much in full swing and have probably leapt ahead in some areas. English firms were partnering with #LegalTech incubators first, A&O created Peerpoint first, but I think on the whole it’s probably pretty similar.

What are some of the more challenging moments you have faced in working with Lexoo and do you ever miss the consistency of working for a large firm?

Watching your runway (or bank balance) red-lining on empty right before a capital raise is pretty hairy. Having to report a dip in numbers to investors is never fun. Admitting that a product feature or a growth strategy didn’t work and having to abandon it is also hard to do. But this is all part and parcel of life at any startup, yet you also get such amazing highs like closing a funding round, breaking records, having amazing people say ‘yes’ to  joining your mission.

What advice do you have for young law students and lawyers who are unsure about what direction to take their future careers?

For students: if you’re set on becoming a lawyer, follow your values and beliefs. For example, if you’re passionate about human rights, don’t go work for a top-tier corporate firm. Even if it’s just to ‘get it on the resume’, life’s too short for that. If you’re tossing up becoming a lawyer vs. pursuing another opportunity that, being honest with yourself, actually gets you fire-in-the-belly excited, then pursue that opportunity first – you’ll never have more energy, time and freedom to pursue your dream (and if that dream is to become a lawyer, then go get it!).

For young lawyers: if lawyering doesn’t do it for you, then start exploring other options. You might be surprised what’s out there and how valuable your skills are. The longer you wait (it doesn’t get better/easier), the more you’ll box yourself in as a ‘lawyer’, which can be a label (and attitude) that’s hard to shake. Of course many of us still love the industry, but not necessarily the practise of law in a law firm or corporate environment. You’re in luck because there are now so many options to explore new ways of providing legal services! J

The ‘legal marketplace’ model has become increasingly popular. Lexoo is unique in that it uses a panel to provide prospective clients with a range of options to choose from. How do you go about ensuring that clients receive a broad range of cost tenders and practitioners?  Is all this information stored in a database?

I think any marketplace needs to start with a solid base of providers – in our case it was onboarding enough lawyers to represent a broad mix of practice areas to service most client enquiries with a range of options. The lawyer-side of the marketplace grew organically, in that we didn’t aggressively market to lawyers to get them on board. In fact, it’s hard to keep up with the numbers of lawyers that apply to join the site, because we’re curated marketplace that only accepts a certain type of lawyer – specialised, forward-thinking, ex-top tier/brand name experience who’re operating on low overheads. We take all the information gather during the vetting process and capture that data in our system to help automate the matching process.

We have read about increasing cyber security threats in legal practice. Do you have any particular insight on what challenges Lexoo has faced on the cyber security front and how they have responded?

No, we don’t have any particular insights on this. Of course all the information provided to Lexoo by businesses is strictly confidential, but the vast majority of the sensitive information doesn’t touch our servers – it’s mostly provided to the lawyer directly once they’re engaged.

Do you have a quote you live by or think of often?

I have a few!

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained” – very helpful when you’re about to approach someone cold.

“Do something every day that scares you” – I say it when I’m about to jump on stage or agree to do something where I’m out of my depth.

“Create something every day” – I write something (hopefully) insightful every day and share it with my network. Over time it adds up to a lot and hones my skills bit by bit.

Who springs to mind when you think of the word ‘successful’?

Mark Zuckerberg

What is your ‘legal forecast’ for the future of Lexoo, the legal marketplace business model and legal practice in general?

Lexoo’s network (while very strong in UK and Australia) now spans over 20 countries –that trend will continue where soon we can truly call ourselves global. For certain legal job requests, getting fixed fee quotes is entirely automated so again, expect more of that. For the legal marketplace segment more broadly, it’s a hyper-competitive space so expect quite a lot of consolidation as the clear leaders in each region start to emerge. And for legal practice, with more and more new law firms starting up without the legacy of billable hours, I think we’ll start to see far more uptake of technology and flexible work, which will be a win-win for clients and lawyers – I can’t wait for this transition to a new breed of law firm to be complete (it’s only just begun!).

LawTech Summit + Awards

LawTech Summit + Awards: 7 – 8 September 2017 Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas | Noosa

Angus Murray (TLF, National Director) and Daniel Owen (TLF, QLD) from The Legal Forecast (‘TLF’) were recently invited to speak at the LawTech Summit + Awards, run by Chilli IQ.

Chilli IQ is a leading creator of conferences and summits that aim to bring together distinguished individuals to create thought-inspiring events.  Chilli IQ specialises in creating innovative conferences and summits for the changing business landscape.

One of Chilli IQ’s most successful events is the LawTech Summit + Awards (‘LawTech’), this year hosted at Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas.  The event brings together great minds in the legal technology space in one room for a two day summit that recognises distinguished effort and achievement.  In addition, the event serves as a thought provoking and inspiring exploration into the intersection of law, technology and innovation.

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Emerging themes in legal innovation

The overwhelming theme arising from LawTech was the rising threat of cyber security to the way that law is practiced and the ability of law firms to satisfy the demands of clients for flexibility and adaptation.  While clients are demanding that law firms comply with requests to receive files via cloud storage, cyber security threats discourage firms from complying.

Firms are also facing a threat in terms of budget allocation.  How can they dedicate the necessary resources to cyber security threats while retaining the profitability necessary to continue to dominate the legal market and dedicate time and money to investing in innovation?  The answer may lie in hiring specialist ‘white hat hackers’ to intentionally attack firms’ computer systems in hopes of finding and rectifying gaps in security to prevent future attacks from less friendly entities.

It is interesting to note that cyber security threats received their highest uptick in frequency in 2015.  In 2016, that number reduced significantly.  Potentially these statistics indicate that firms are taking cyber security threats more seriously.

At the same time that firms are facing the threat of cyber attacks, they are also tasked with fielding client demands that they behave like other service providers.  For example, by offering predictable up-front fees and generally integrating the services they offer into the business models of clients.

It is also apparent that legal services are trending towards the ‘legal supply chain’ model.  In short, firms are being forced to respond rapidly, achieve scale and maximal efficiency, behave intelligently and remain connected to industry.  The future of practice may also involve clearer differentiation between segments of the legal ‘supply chain’ and clients are likely to continue the trend of requesting ever more discreet tasks be undertaken.

On the blockchain front, the primary concern from a legal standpoint is one of regulation.  However, from a commercial standpoint, guarantees of identification or anonymity (depending on the nature of the way blockchain is being leveraged) are paramount.  Further, the ability to achieve mass scale will be essential to the future viability of blockchain based services.

In an increasingly data driven profession, data visualisations will be a tremendous tool for future-looking legal professionals who recognise the need to create easily accessible and quickly digestible information.

At the mid-way point of the event, a change in speed was quickly recognisable.  Attention turned to the ability of legal services to be automated using decision-making trees that streamline processes to churn out quality work at a faster speed.

Automation can occur in any aspect of the profession where the process can be quantified.  The same cannot be said, however, for the ‘soft skills’ of assessing client needs, demonstrating charisma and creating persuasive arguments.  Professionals who embrace automation of repeatable processes while doubling the efforts given to soft skills and strategy will succeed in the new legal landscape.

LawTech was also notable for a clear embracing of disruption and innovation generally, as well as recognition of the commerciality of developing new service offerings for the market.  Innovation was broken down into a science and a repeatable process for creating new approaches was provided.

This is an approach underpinned by challenging one’s own assumptions, identifying and solving client pains (with a particular focus on the largest of these pains) and importing ideas from other industries.  The mantra ‘fail fast, fail often’ was expanded to include failing with minimal sunken costs (i.e. test early and test on your clients).

Recognising ‘false positives’ in client responses is also important.  For those firms that measure ‘intention’ rather than ‘action’, they may be sorely surprised when client’s actions do not back up their words.  This is because humans generally struggle to match their actions with their intentions.

Angus and Daniel have compiled the below summary of the event to provide TLF’s audience with the latest on all things legal tech.

Day 1

After an opening address from Chair Martin Telfer, Senior Vice President of Fulcrum Global Technologies.  Martin has had a stellar career, including tenures at distinguished companies like Ernst & Young, MinterEllison and Baker & Mackenzie. Martin’s role at LawTech was one of facilitator.  He provided ongoing thought provoking introductions to, and conclusions based upon, each speaker and their unique content.

TLF’s first thank you must go to Martin for his tireless efforts in facilitating depth of discussion and acting connecting attendees with one another.

Below we have attempted to provide an outline of each speaker and their key messages, however, doing justice to this incredible line up of speakers is virtually impossible to convey and we encourage our readers to search out each speaker with whom they feel a connection.  Not only are each of the below speakers each distinguished in their respective fields, they are also incredibly approachable and would be more than happy to provide more detailed guidance on their work.

(a) Session 1: Opening keynote session

Speaker: Ty Miller, Managing Director at Threat Intelligence.  Threat Intelligence is a Sydney based threat analytics and penetration testing company that specialises in creating next generation cyber security risk management solutions.

Message: While technology is forever advancing to enable business innovation, that same technology is susceptible to being leveraged against firms and businesses by ‘black hat’ hackers.

As TLF learned at LawTech, not all hackers are bad.  ‘Black hat hackers’ are those that behave in an illegal or criminal fashion.  Contrastingly, ‘white hat hackers’ are those that work with companies to assist them in recognising and overcoming gaps in their cyber security protocols to prevent infiltration from black hat hackers.

A key thematic that emerged at LawTech was the ‘economy’ created by the threat of cyber security.  While hacking poses a growing threat to professional service firms, those firms are fighting back by dedicating a portion of their budget to hiring cyber security experts whose role would have no purpose without the growing cyber security threats.

Ty discussed how the new exploitation techniques used by black hat hackers enhance ‘attack campaign sophistication’ to allow them to bypass ordinary cyber security defences.

Contact: info@threatintelligence.com

(b) Session 2: The rising cyber security threat and what it means for law firms

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Speaker: Georg Thomas, National Security & Risk Manager at Corrs Chambers Westgarth (‘Corrs’). Corrs is a leading independent Australian law firm committed to innovation, quality advice and a client-centric business model.

Message: Georg has experience both in Australia and America working for large corporate firms such as Kraft & Kenney, Grant Thornton LLP and most recently, Corrs.  Georg explained that the last several years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of cyber threats globally.  Further, the attacks are not just reserved for large firms.  As a result, law firms need to have a strong security program now more than ever.

Georg also made a reputational case for investing in cyber security, particularly the impending mandatory data breach notification laws and growing demands from clients to ensure firm data is protected from hackers.

Georg advocated that firms invest in ISO/IEC 27000:2016, an international standard for cyber security.

Georg also maintains a website dedicated to legal cyber security (accessible here).  We encourage both law firms and young lawyers / law students to utilise the resources Georg provides to ensure they behave in a way that is secure from cyber threats and, further, remain abreast of the changing landscape of legal cyber security.

Contact: info@legalcybersecurity.com.au

(c) Session 3:  Get ready for the role of legal supply chain

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Speaker: Martin Telfer, Senior ice President of Fulcrum Global Technologies

Message: Martin, in addition to Charing LawTech, was also a speaker.  Martin discussed the concept of the Legal Supply Chain (‘LSC’).  LSC is the concept that law firms now face complex and real-time supply chain issues.

This is particularly the case because of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (‘CLOC’), a rapidly growing group of COO’s who run large in house legal departments to leverage better value from their legal spend.  Consequentially, law firm rates are receiving downward pressure that encourage frequent and substantial volume discounts.

Martin takes the view that visibility is now, more than ever, critical for law firms to retain their relevance.  Further, quality analytics is essential.  Big data is essential to ensuring firms can drive better client service by offering new and expanded value.

The concept of LSC is driven by the premise that law firms are now in a buyer’s market.  Client’s can readily put stress on firms.

While the classic ‘disruptive innovation’ model tells us that law firms are under threat from disruptive innovators at the early seed stage and start-up level who creep up the industry, an equal if not more concerning threat is posed by the Big 4 banks.  Martin notes that banks have invested heavily in processes and technologies that threaten work previously reserved for legal service providers.

Contact: info@fulcrumgt.com

(d) Session 4: Blockchain – Unravelling its meaning and use

Speaker: Dr Philippa Ryan, barrister and lecturer at University of Technology Sydney – Faculty of Law.  Philippa coordinates and teaches about disruptive technologies and the law. Her PhD focussed on forming a new classification for third parties to a breach of trust.  She is currently researching the regulation and status of cryptocurrencies and trust protocols enabled by blockchain.

Message: Philippa discussed the blockchain technology that enables a cryptographically secured network of transactions that can be seen by all users on the network.  She discussed the way that blockchain technology stands to impact the legal profession by enabling currency exchanges, smart contracts, asset tracking and verification of users or assets.

Philippa considers that blockchain technology stands to resolve a number of problems the legal profession currently faces.  These include eliminating double-spending, authenticating users, reducing the risk of fraud or mistakes and increasing transaction speed.

Philippa also discussed some of the current weaknesses of blockchain including the current limitation of speed of transactions that can only be overcome by mainstream adoption.  Philippa explained that this problem will likely only be overcome when government and regulators provide mass incentive (such as tax deductions) for citizens who adopt blockchain payment systems.

Philippa does not foresee cryptocurrency replacing traditional currency entirely, but rather being used for smaller frequent transactions where the convenience of blockchain is at its highest.

Further issues are the massive energy consumption of mining blockchain currencies such as Bitcoin.

Contact: Philippa.Ryan@uts.edu.au

(e) Session 5: Radiance – Visual analytics for early case assessment

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Speaker: Scott Gillard, Director (Technology) at FTI Consulting.  Scott specialises particularly in litigation consulting, e-discovery, litigation support databases and litigation workflow.

FTI Consulting is a management consulting company dedicated to assisting organisations manage change, mitigate risk and resolve disputes in finance, law and business operations.

Message: Scott discussed the importance of creating digestible and visual representations of data in a business climate where big data, and subsequently data analytics, is becoming an increasingly large part of the way that business (and law) is practiced.

Scott explained that smart teams have begun leveraging Early Case Assessment (‘ECA’)  for pre-discovery and e-discovery. ECA is the process of estimating risk prior to involvement in a legal matter through conducting an evaluation of an entity’s or individual’s electronically stored data and files.

Scott offers a way to represent data visually to allow teams to quickly gain insight into large datasets and narrow and cull information to fit their needs at any given particular time.

Contact: businessinquiries@fticonsulting.com

(f) Session 6: Artificial intelligence in action

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Speaker: Julian Uebergang, Managing Director at Neota Logic.  Neota Logic delivers AI software to clients to allow them to intelligently automate their expertise to improve the speed, quality and efficiency of routine decisions.

Message: Julian focussed on the importance of decision-making trees in automation of legal services.  Julian explained that essentially any repeatable task that can be broken down into a decision-making tree is one that is ripe for automation.  A decision-making tree is essentially a string of questions that must be asked and answered to take a task from commencement to completion.

Julian described the automation process as beginning with a design build which is then tested.  After being put through its paces and made viable, Neota Logic deploys the application.  Once it is operational, the application works in conjunction with experts.

Julian’s presentation was especially notable for listing some key case examples of automation in legal services.  In particular, Julian spoke about cases where firms had created automated software to predict the commerciality in legal merit of particular legal scenarios (essentially taking the place of an initial consult and subsequent research).

Julian is a TLF affiliate and was a judge at Disrupting Law 2017.

Contact:  https://www.neotalogic.com/contact-us/. 

(g) Session 7: Disruptive Law – Mixing it up

Speakers: Daniel Owen and Angus Murray.  Daniel is a Graduate Lawyer at Ramsden Lawyers.  Angus is a Senior Associate at Irish Bentley Lawyers.    

Message: Daniel and Angus provided an overview of TLF.  This included the origins of TLF from its early informal meetings to our flagship event, Disrupting Law.  For any of our readers who have not yet heard of Disrupting Law, we encourage you to read our blog article on Disrupting Law 2017.

the presentation also discussed the importance of TLF’s not-for-profit (‘NFP’) status and our role as being a facilitator of discussions on innovation in the legal sector.  TLF is extremely proud that, while we operate as a NFP, we are able to add real value to participants of Disrupting Law who do go on to product viable commercial products and businesses.

Daniel and Angus also discussed TLF’s national expansion, our vision for the future and the theoretical underpinnings of disruptive innovation.

Contact:  Angus@irishbentley.com.au | dowen@ramsdenlaw.com.au

Day 2

(a) Session 1: Artificial intelligence – how smart is it really?

Speaker: Adrian Cartland, Principal and Founder at Cartland Law and creator of Ailira.

Message: Ailira is an artificial intelligence (‘AI’) program that uses natural language processing (‘NLP’) to provide free legal information on business structuring and wills and estates planning.  Ailira also allows the user to generate Australianised legal documents for both business and personal use.

Adrian discussed how NLP has developed in the world of artificial intelligence.  In particular, he explained that his program Ailira is now capable of having complicated conversations with the user and providing them with legal advice.  Beyond a simple question and answer format, Ailira is capable of interrupting lines of conversation with its own questions while also offering real time advice.

The practical applications of a NLP AI program are endless.  From an access to justice perspective, having an application take the place of a lawyer to provide initial advice and basic documents results in a significantly reduced legal spend and makes lawyers accessible regarding of physical proximity.

Contact: admin@cartlandlaw.com

(b) Session 2: Armchair Discussion – Avoiding disaster – can you really safeguard your firm from cyberattacks and other helpful hints

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Speakers:

(i) Professor Jill Slay, Director of Australian Centre for Cyber Security at UNSW Canberra;

(ii) Georg Thomas, National Security & Risk Manager at Corrs Chambers Westgarth;

(iii) Lionel Bird, Head of Projects and Programmes at Norton Rose Fullbright;

(iv) Aaron Bailey, Chief Information Security Officer at The Missing Link; and

(v) Nikita Le Messurier, Cyber Security Sales Team Leader at Darktrace.

Message: Lionel Bird Chaired an armchair discussion on how realistic the idea is that firms can fully prevent themselves from being placed at risk of cyberattacks and preventing attacks from occurring.

Nikita explained how useful Darktrace’s technology is in identifying security threats and that consequently legitimately safeguarding a firm or business is not unrealistic.

Georg built upon Nikita’s position by disclaiming that ultimately how realistic achieving legitimate protection from cyber threats are is turns on budgetary allocations and that currently achieving optimal protection may not be economically viable for many firms and businesses.

Professor Slay added that the embodiment of the idea of tracing how close a cyber threat is or how much damage it has done would be to have a visual radar representation.  She explained that the ‘radar’ analogy has become one of the most common areas of research and that having a way to interpret cyber threat data visually would significantly aid firms in protecting themselves from breaches.

Aaron Bailey took the view that the role of white hat hackers in assisting firms in businesses was essential to ensuring cyber protection.  This is because white hackers can try to expose weaknesses in your system and then allow you to improve it rather than having the first attack be conducted by a hostile individual or entity.

Contacts:

(i) Professor Jill Slay –  j.slay@adfa.edu.au;

(ii) Georg Thomas – info@legalcybersecurity.com.au;

(iii) Lionel Bird – lionel.bird@icloud.com;

(iv) Aaron Bailey –  contactus@themissinglink.com.au; and

(v) Nikita Le Messurier – info@darktrace.com.

(c) Session 3: The anatomy of an attack

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Speaker: Phillip Clark, Technical Consultant at Mimecast.  Mimecast is to make business email and data safer for its customers.  Mimecast also offers cloud-based security, email archiving and email continuity services to reduce cyber risk.

Message: Phillip’s presentation was especially notable for running the audience through how to hack into an individual or company’s computer using simple and easy to access software.  What’s even more notable is that this software is entirely legal.

Phillip used the live demonstration to evidence that today’s threat landscape has increased and that the barriers for entry into the world of hacking are lower than ever.  Further, Phillip explained that commercial file sharing sites create new risks.

Phillip explained hacking techniques such as the ‘low and slow’ approach and the ‘spray and pray’ approach as ways to gain intel to then build an attack.  Email in particular was shown to be a particularly easy entry point to extort an individual or business for financial gain.

Contact: info@mimecast.com.au

(c) Session 4: Innovation Survivor: How to outthink, outsmart and outlast your competitors

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Speaker: Judy Anderson, Chief Inventiologist at Inventium.  Judy helps organisations make innovation repeatable through a scientific formula for disruptive thinking. Previously she worked for Deloitte Australia.

Message: Judy provided the audience with five (5) practical tips on how to create innovation:

(i) identify client pain points;

(ii) challenge your assumptions;

(iii) go wide for your break throughs (i.e. look to other, currently disconnected industries);

(iv) test your solutions with clients; and

(v) lean into failure (i.e. embrace it, and do it with minimal sunken costs).

Judy takes the view that innovation is a necessary component to doing business and that businesses and firms not committed to innovation may be left behind by innovative disruptors that attack the bottom of an industry and work their way upwards.

Contact: http://www.inventium.com.au/contact/

(d) Session 5: Purple is the new white

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Speaker: Aaron Bailey, Chief Information Security Officer at The Missing Link.

Message: Aaron discussed how utilising what he calls a ‘purple team’ approach is key to measuring the effectiveness and maturity of a company’s cyber security systems.  Aaron is a fascinating case of a ‘white hat hacker’.  He began hacking as a pre-teen before putting his tech powers to use for good.  He explained that his key methodology is using white hat hackers to ‘attack’ a client’s systems to spot weaknesses and then subsequently address them with the services and products offered by the Missing Link.

Aaron calls this approach the ‘purple team’ approach.  The name comes from pitting a ‘red team’ against a ‘blue team’ (i.e. system attackers and defenders) to explore the strengths and weaknesses of a particular interface from a cyber security standpoint.

Aaron gave some great examples of white hat hacking demonstrations, from hacking into drug-administering technology to deliver lethal doses to dummies or hacking into pacemakers without even touching them.

Aaron demonstrated how important white hat hacking is to resisting attacks on security systems and how powerful hacking can be when it is used for the benefit of society rather than its detriment.

Contact: contactus@themissinglink.com.au

(e) Session 6: The dark side of psychology and the bright side of innovation

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Speaker: Adam Ferrier, Consumer Psychologist and Chief Strategy Officer at Thinkerbell.

Message: Adam explored innovation intersects with creativity and psychology with a particular emphasis on consumer behaviour.  He explained why innovation is generally quite derivative.  He suggests looking to the less-targeted human emotions for marketing campaigns to allow a particular product to stand out.

For example, he explained that in creating Coca Cola’s ‘names’ campaign, he was tapping into the sense of connection, pride and ownership consumers feel when receiving a bottle with their name on it.

Adam’s talk was absolutely fascinating and provided invaluable knowledge for anyone looking to market products of disruptive innovation.  This is even more so the case in a market that is traditionally bearish on adopting new methods of operation.

Contact: hello@thinkerbell.com

Parting remarks

TLF would like to once again extend a sincere thank you to Chilli IQ for the opportunity and platform to spread our message that legal innovation and disruption is inherently a good thing.

A special thanks must be extended to Jenny Katrivesis, George Katrivesis and Kathy Katrivesis.  Jenny, George and Kathy worked tirelessly throughout the event and put on a wonderful display of legal innovation.

The LawTech Summit + Awards is one of the most valuable and important events TLF has been invited to attend and we look forward to seeing everyone again next year to hear the latest on legal tech!

 

If you would like to be interviewed or offer your thoughts on a recent event, book or article, please contact our Editor In Chief, Michael Bidwell, at mbidwell@mccullough.com.au

HPAIR Conference in Summary

On Monday 21 August, The Legal Forecast headed to Sydney for the Harvard Project in Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) Conference. We had the chance to engage with students from across 60 different countries about the work that we do, generating heaps of interest for collaboration and involvement for our events and expansion into different parts of Australia and the Asia-Pacific.

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TLF’s Asia Insights head, Josephine MacMillan, also had the opportunity to sit on the Entrepreneurship and Technology Panel, discussing issues around innovation in the legal industry, spruiking Disrupting Law, and more broadly speaking about solving problems through entrepreneurship.

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Alongside other panellists, James Alexander of Incubate, Katie Richards of Virtual Legal, and Tianyu (Joe) Zhu from Smarthealth Ventures, the panel gave delegates insights into being part of startups and advice for overcoming challenges and tackling setbacks. Key takeaways from the panel included maintaining connections, finding good mentors and thinking not just about entering the cutthroat world of business entrepreneurship, but also considering other avenues such as social entrepreneurship and innovation through non-for-profits. The panellists stressed the importance of being flexible and keeping an open mind to change. With their different perspectives from different industries, it was an insightful and thought-provoking discussion, inspiring delegates to expand their horizons and challenge their world-view.

By Jessica Wat (TLF ACT)

 

Disrupting Law 2017: Strangers to Founders in under 54-hours

Disrupting Law was a special experience for all involved in 2017. We the organisers (The Legal Forecast and QUT Starters) thought it important to provide a recap of our unique project and express our gratitude to the myriad supporters from the legal, tech and other industries, and the broader community.

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What is Disrupting Law?

Students from a range of faculties and universities nationwide come together over a weekend to search for the next best idea to advance legal practice in a novel way.

In a process that was deliberately randomised to spark new connections and friendships, 13 student teams partnered with 13 law firms.

One contestant described the process as “strangers to founders in 54 hours”.

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The firms generously provided legal and non-legal staff to mentor the students over the course of the collaborative and high-octane 3-day competition that last year resulted in two teams turning their concepts into real-world start-ups.

We expect 4 – 5 teams to take their ideas to market (and are confident that most teams could as a result of the quality and originality of the pitches witnessed this year).

The teams are also given access to an unbelievable set of “roaming mentors” who are handpicked by the organisers for their unique experiences and achievements in the legal-tech and other related worlds.

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On Sunday 6 August 2017, tired, apprehensive, but determined to have a go, students pitched their ideas to a ‘Shark Tank’ style panel and over 250 audience members at Room Three Sixty.  The pitches were astounding.  

Clarissa Rayward,  The Happy Family Lawyer, remarked: It was so inspirational to see the quality of ideas and the extent of their implementation in barely 48 hours.

Contestants were lucky (and in some cases understandably nervous!) to pitch to our impressive judges:

  • Terri Mottershead is the Director of the Centre for Legal Innovation, an innovation-focused think tank at The College of Law.
  • Steven Wilson is the Chief Operating Officer of the Office of the Queensland Chief Entrepreneur, which plays a vital role in building and promoting the importance of entrepreneurship in Queensland.
  • Julian Uebergang is the Managing Director of Neota Logic, a leading producer of artificial intelligence software.
  • Alison Laird is the Principal of Laird Innovations and is currently contracted by Pinsent Masons to be their Innovation Manager throughout the Asia Pacific region.

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We were also lucky to have the involvement of Glenn Tighe (Veriluma) who, using the judging criteria that we gave him, designed a bespoke software tool that received the judges’ scores for various categories (each category was uniquely weighted depending on what the organisers felt was most and least important for the teams to consider) and calculated the overall winner.

Glenn also circulated a questionnaire to students which inadvertently asked them to self-assess their likelihood of winning on Saturday (by asking questions like “how well do you cooperate with your teammates?” and “how much time did you get with your lawyer mentors?” etc.).  

Therefore we are able to match predictions about how teams would fare with their actual scores (but have chosen to only provide this information with respect to the 2017 overall winner – see below).  

Who supports Disrupting Law?

Our mentoring firms in 2017 were Herbert Smith Freehills, King & Wood Mallesons, McCullough Robertson, Allens Linklaters, DLA Piper, Clayton Utz, Piper Alderman, Hall & Wilcox, Minter Ellison, Jones Day, ClarkeKann, Helix Legal and Law Squared.

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In addition, seven carefully selected industry partners agreed to offer representatives, prizes, and financial and other support to the project.

These partners included:

  • Janders Dean, the world’s leading legal industry management consultancy.
  • Neota Logic, a leading producer of artificial intelligence software.
  • GlobalX, a leading producer of software for the legal, conveyancing and financial industries.  
  • The Centre for Legal Innovation, an innovation-focused think tank at The College of Law.
  • Suncorp Group, a leading provider of general insurance, banking, life insurance and wealth management services in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Thomson Reuters, a multinational mass media and information firm. 
  • QUT Law School, a highly regarded law school that prides itself on offering real-world experiences to its students.

Who is behind Disrupting Law?

Disrupting Law was created and co-hosted by a group of students and young professionals in 2016 who were then either involved in The Legal Forecast or student society QUT Starters.  The originators are from multiple universities (including UQ, QUT, USQ and Griffith) and/ or work in various places.

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The Disrupting Law events in both 2016 and 2017 were jointly co-hosted by The Legal Forecast and QUT Starters and many fresh faces were involved this year (as well as a few “old” hands).  

This is of course is an immense logistical undertaking and the people involved, none of whom are professional or even quasi-professional event organisers, should be particularly proud of what they have achieved while juggling onerous uni and work commitments.  

Warwick Walsh (CEO & Founder of Lawcadia) said of the 2016 event:

The best example of entrepreneurship and innovation during the Disrupting Law weekend was the event itself. It is one thing to have a good idea and start to develop that (as the contestants were required to do), it is a much harder thing to start to implement that and do all the hard work to get it to market, which is what The Legal Forecast and QUT Starters achieved over the past 6 months to be able to put on the event. So congratulations to you for that.

The Legal Forecast is a not-for-profit run by early career legal professionals and law students who aim to advance legal practice through technology and innovation.

QUT Starters is a student society building a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation at Queensland University of Technology.

The Journey!

Friday evening

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On Friday evening, attendees gathered under an impressive artwork by designer Aaron Patel which successfully sought to capture the tone of Disrupting Law: a blend of law, creativity, and excitement with a dash of the unknown.

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After Professor John Flood’s inspiring keynote speech, thirteen teams of students –from law, tech and other backgrounds– were assigned to thirteen law firms by a process that involved a law firm representative jumping on stage and drawing a number from a hat.

You’d be forgiven for expecting the hat to shout “Gryffindor!” though this never actually occurred.

In huddles on Friday night, team members and their lawyer–mentors made introductions, broke the ice, reflected on Professor Flood’s inspiring speech and commenced formulating their ideas to disrupt law.

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Saturday

Bright and early on Saturday morning the teams spread out in the wonderful working space at J Block, (QUT Gardens Point) and, determined to crack the difficult task at hand, rehashed and revised their ideas.

The ambitious efforts of the students and their lawyer–mentors were met by surges of inspiration and unique perspectives from an unbelievable team of non–lawyer mentors brought in from all over the country.

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These individuals, many of whom flew to Brisbane to participate, roamed the working space, adding development insights, assisting with business models, and advising on design, startup methodology and niche technologies like blockchain and biometrics.

One roaming mentor from the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal remarked:

This was my first experience participating in a hackathon. The Disrupting Law 2017 hackathon was one of the most wonderful and memorable law focused events that I have been a part of in a long time. It was a fantastic creative space to learn and also enjoy the company of other mentors and legal people.  It was  very encouraging to witness the enthusiasm of the intelligent and highly engaged students.  Well done !!

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The legal and non-legal mentors worked together to encourage and empower the students, and lift their spirits at every inevitable twist, turn, and pivot.

Sunday

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As we moved into Sunday teams were much more prepared this year and, having soaked in the wisdom of their mentors, focused in on their incredible, and varied, solutions, all of which, as you will read shortly, are aimed at advancing legal practice through innovation.

 

The Sunday showcase: what was pitched?

DLA Piper (Team 1): Crypt-It

Crypt-it is software designed for artists to protect the originality of their work in a copy and paste world. Using Crypt-it, artists can upload their work to the blockchain, where they will receive an undisputable certificate of authenticity as evidence of the originality of the work.  Furthermore, by submitting artistic work to the blockchain, artists are protected from those asserting false copyright claims, as there is a permanent record linking back to the author of the original work.Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 1.19.42 pm

Helix Legal (Team 2):  Lawvelop

Lawvelop assists lawyers to meet continuing professional development requirements through an intuitive online platform which provides content, reminders, reports and automatic law society auditing (among other features). 

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ClarkeKann (Team 3): Mynd

Mynd is a data driven wellness coach and business productivity tool that aims to improve mental health by assisting individuals to build positive habits through providing them with information about their own behaviour and mental state.

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Clayton Utz (Team 4): Pivot

Pivot allows law firms to measure, analyse and better value lawyers’ “soft” skills to evaluate client retention, trust, and to enable personal development and feedback for lawyers.  

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Minter Ellison (Team 5): Tim

Tim uses eye-tracking technology, automated narrative function, a cognitive computer system and long-term data collection to automate time-keeping for lawyers.

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Herbert Smith Freehills (Team 6): InsideOut

InsideOut is a client relationship management tool for firms that brings firms and clients together. It’s a one stop shop that seamlessly contains bespoke legal matters with different firms and presents them in a practical and user-friendly format, allowing clients to stay abreast of the progression of a matter, legal costs, next steps and keep in contact with their lawyers.

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Piper Alderman (Team 7): BioSign

Electronic signatures are a natural progression in paperless technology, especially in the legal profession, but there are still doubts about security, efficiency and convenience. With BioSign, electronic signatures are taken to another level – with biometrics. BioSign is a new way to instantly and remotely sign documents more securely than current electronic signing programs using smartphone fingerprint scanning technology.

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LawSquared (Team 8): Rent Aware

Rent Aware is an end to end platform that facilitates the tenant to landlord relationship, with a focus on empowering parties to positively manage their relationship by educating them about their rights and obligations by leveraging the power of AI and Natural Language Processing.

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Hall & Willcox (Team 9): CrossCheck

Currently, when law firms seek to determine if a potential conflict of interest exists, they only consider the firm’s own internal data, which does not consider the growing movement of the “new lawyer”. CrossCheck proposes a solution of a centralised conflict flagging system that queries a combination of publicly available information, law society records and records maintained by firms to provide more efficient, effective and accurate conflict checks.

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Jones Day (Team 10): ConnectLaw

ConnectLaw is a lawyer-to-lawyer platform that disrupts the traditional legal model by connecting sole and small firm practitioners from diverse legal backgrounds so that they can join together for legal work they might otherwise be unprepared to tackle.

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Allens (Team 11): CPD Express

CPD express is an app that allows for all CPD information to be recorded in the one location as well as the ability to host video content from CPD providers. This regulates the CPD process, making it easier for lawyers to stay up to date with their CPD.

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McCullough Robertson (Team 12): Insight

Insight is a client portal that displays work in progress updates, billing information, and task management tools for clients to access on demand. Insight aggregates information from separate law firms, allowing a client who interacts with multiple firms at once a single platform to access all of their information.

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King & Wood Mallesons (Team 13): Torque

Torque helps law firms streamline the due diligence process by combining project management, machine learning and web crawling.

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Who won what!?

All the teams did a brilliant job and should be commended.  A few took home special honours:

Overall winner i.e. the Legal Innovation Award presented by TLF and QUTS: RentAware (LawSquared)

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As discussed above, based on Veriluma’s predictive algorithm and the analysis conducted by Glenn Tighe, the RentAware team predicted that they would place fifth (though they ultimately placed first!)

RentAware takes home a cash prize and a shiny trophy (to be held in the mentoring firm’s lobby until Disrupting Law 2018).

The Janders Dean Prize: CryptIT (DLA Piper)

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This award was given in Janders Dean’s discretion to the team that had the best presentation on the Showcase night (irrespective of other criteria).

Representatives of the CryptIT team will be supported by Janders Dean to attend the #JDHorizons event in Sydney where they will have an opportunity to pitch their idea to the attendees.

Neota Logic: Crosscheck (Hall and Wilcox)

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This award was given in Neota Logic’s discretion to the team demonstrating the most preparedness to commercialise its idea/ take it to market.

The Crosscheck team will be supported by Neota Logic with free no-strings-attached access to the Neota platform for a period of 2 years and support, and mentorship from the Neota Logic team.

After witnessing the impressive pitches on Sunday, Julian Uebergang of Neota Logic generously extended opportunities to both the Mynd team and the Rentaware team as well .

GlobalX Award for Leadership in Innovation (individual): Sam Cleary (of the DLA Piper team)

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This award went to a contestant with a non-law background who demonstrated leadership in innovation and involves a paid internship at GlobalX.

Thomson Reuters Award (individual): Hannah Williams (of the Piper Alderman team)

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This award went to a contestant with a law or non-law background who demonstrated leadership and involves a paid internship at Thomson Reuters.

Don’t take it from us!

We have sought the feedback of attendees and are receiving heart-warming testimonials.

So far, contestants have said:

After six years of university, in which time I have aimed to participate in absolutely everything, Disrupting Law I can honestly say is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. You meet amazing people, undertake immense pressure, but just like rocks into diamonds, it is so, so worth it. If you like law, or tech, or business, or even just like meeting new people like I do, Disrupting Law is definitely worth your time.

Disrupting Law was an amazing weekend of highs and lows, which ultimately culminated in an enthralling expo of bright new ideas to revitalise the legal industry. The connections I made over the weekend will last long into the future, and I look forward to developing the next Big Thing that will disrupt the legal landscape.

Having taken part in the inaugural Disrupting Law in 2016, I was excited to take part again, and found that it had just gotten bigger and better

Thank you to all involved!

Many of our contestants and partners have done an excellent job of providing their own perspectives and we encourage you to take a look at their stories too:

See our awesome social media wall: https://walls.io/7DK9WGJMj

Charles Biddulph (an aspiring aerospace engineer) of the Law Squared Team via LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/2ftGg9i

Jaya Prasad (a UQ law student) of the Law Squared Team via LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/2vFWva0

A Storify story by Brydon of Allens, a mentoring law firm: https://storify.com/AllensComms/disrupting-law-hackathon

Another Storify story by Kate Galloway chronicling the showcase on Sunday: https://storify.com/katgallow/disruptinglaw-hackaton-qutstarters-aug-2017

A blog post by one of our event partners, Neota Logic: https://www.neotalogic.com/2017/08/03/neota-logic-sponsoring-australias-largest-legal-industry-hackathon/

By Milan Gandhi (TLF NATIONAL), Jessica Wat (TLF ACT) and Josephine Bird (QUT Starters)

Most photos taken by Shuwei Zhang.  Aaron Patel designed the artwork for our opening ceremony.