Legal technology business Clarilis recently opened an office in Singapore, appointing industry veteran Malik Anwar as Director of Asia operations. In this interview with Asia Law Portal, Anwar outlines the value proposition of document automation platforms to law firms and the general counsel, Clarilis’ future plans for the region in general, and in Singapore’s forward-looking legal market in particular.
You’ve recently been named Director of Asia operations for Clarilis, which has recently launched in the Asia-Pacific region. As a legal document automation platform based in the UK, what is Clarilis’ unique value proposition to law firms and general counsel in Asia?
Manual drafting of contracts is time consuming and inefficient and so the business case for document automation is straightforward and compelling. Law firms need to reduce costs and respond to client instruction faster. Lawyers need to add value to their clients to differentiate their firm. GCs need to delegate work to junior lawyers or let business users self-serve – businesses want faster contracting and legal teams don’t want to be seen as a bottleneck.
Our unique proposition lies with our proprietary platform and managed service approach. As an automation partner, with the largest team of Professional Support Lawyers (PSLs), developers, automation experts and analysts in the UK, Clarilis takes on the implementation challenges on behalf of client firms and businesses.
Our core architecture is designed to achieve economies of scale in every aspect of its design. From intelligent dynamic questionnaires through to extensive boiler plating at a level never previously achieved, our architecture is a class above all other technologies currently in the market. This architecture brings beneﬁts to Clarilis’ customers in terms of signiﬁcant economies of scale in the automation process, which translates into large reductions in terms of both time to deliver and cost. The architecture also allows rapid amendments to be made to multiple suites of precedents simultaneously, and to provide extensive management reporting.
Traditional technologies have, on the whole, approached the subject of automation one document at a time. For example, one change in a ﬁrm’s house style can create an enormous workload for the automation team. A single change in the cover sheet requires every single automated document to be updated, which can take a number of days. For Clarilis, any changes of this nature would take a matter of minutes. Another example is the reuse of automated boilerplates, which can substantially reduce the amount of work required to automate subsequent precedents.
The CLARILIS™ platform captures best practice drafting methodologies from the experienced in-house PSL team. With this rules-based approach the platform continually evolves so that the automation process becomes ever more efficient. Using the platform doesn’t require you to adapt your precedents or adopt new ones. CLARILIS™ allows firms and businesses to automate their precedents or templates without amendment which encourages high levels of adoption.
Clarilis’ Asia operations are based in Singapore. What do you have planned for Singapore and do you anticipate regional expansion?
Clarilis has quickly established itself as the market leading platform and managed service within the UK and the platform is already used by a number of firms in multiple jurisdictions worldwide. We’re looking to build on our success in the UK and, for us, Singapore was the clear choice for our first overseas office. We’re experiencing increased demand from law firms and organisations across the region which is testament to the strength of the platform and managed service proposition. With the Singapore government’s commitment to creating a first-class Smart Nation and active promotion of the adoption of legal tech that adds value to the legal industry, it makes sense from a business perspective and we are anticipating further regional expansion across SEA and India. Singapore will continue to be our regional hub.
How has legal document automation changed in recent years and how will it change going forward?
Legal document automation technology, in one form or another, has been around for more than 25 years. Unfortunately, legacy technologies have left a graveyard of late, failed or over budget projects
Before launching to the UK market in 2015, Clarilis undertook extensive market research to understand why, given the potential of legal document automation, there had been insufficient progress made by these legacy technologies. Our research highlighted that many law firms had tried document automation projects with automation toolkits to varying degrees of success; many of the projects were delivered late, some significantly over budget and others were perpetually in the implementation phase. Often those that were launched were shelved as soon as significant changes were needed to the underlying documents. It became clear to us that the legacy technologies in the market were complicated and time consuming to use for all but the simplest of documents – logic exponentially increases with document complexity. Firms and businesses were struggling to make the significant investment required to build an automation team and design the processes needed, lawyers don’t write code – coders don’t understand law – neither speak the same language.
The Clarilis technology and approach has been developed specially to tackle these issues and take away the headaches usually associated with these legacy document automation technologies. Our PSL-led managed service approach includes the implementation, delivery and maintenance of all automation projects and ensures all communication is lawyer-to-lawyer.
The CLARILIS™ platform is totally attuned to the speciﬁc needs of the legal profession, and ensures that ﬁrms and in-house legal departments draft consistently high-quality documentation and thereby create time for solicitors to focus on what they do best – providing bespoke advice to clients and handling non-standard aspects of transactions.
Going forward, I think we will see will see wider adoption of legal document automation (but there is still work to do here) and new opportunities arising out of more mature implementations and wider data sets being available as a result of use of this technology. At Clarilis, we are looking at some strategic technology partnerships and integrations to further enhance our customer’s workflows and overall efficiency.
You have extensive experience in operating and marketing law firms in Asia. How do you feel about making the transition to legal document automation?
My extensive experience in managing law firms has given me a deep understanding of the issues law firms in Singapore and Asia face. The need to increase productivity and be more profitable has increased over the years as legal markets across Asia are liberalised. The Singapore government’s push for legal services to be a pillar of the Singapore economy has also educated legal professionals on the need to automate processes. I feel that my law firm experience will prove useful as I will have an intimate knowledge of how law firms work and will be in a great position to suggest productivity gains and cost savings through the introduction of Clarilis in their firms. Personally, I am a firm believer in the technology and what Clarilis offers law firms. This made the move a lot easier.
Singapore’s Government is committed to transforming its’ legal services market to one of greater efficiency and consumer relevancy. How does Clarilis plan to play a role in this effort?
It’s great that the Singapore Government is committed to transforming its legal services market and supporting the fast evolving Legal tech market. Legal Tech and specifically legal document automation is increasingly in the spotlight as GCs and law firms are focussing on proven technologies that are driving efficiencies.
We will be working with a number of organisations we met last November on the UK’s first ever DIT Legal Tech Trade Mission. These include SAL’s Future Law Innovation Programme (FLIP), ALITA and the Law Society of Singapore who are all doing a great job in leading an industry-wide effort to encourage the adoption of technology, drive innovation, and create a vibrant ecosystem for legal technology.
For more information, please see the CLARILIS website: https://www.clarilis.info/