Andrew King is one of the core connectors of the legal tech industry in New Zealand. The founder of LegalTechHub (a portal for legal tech in NZ), the founder of e-discovery and legal innovation consultancies, and the organizing force behind LawFest NZ. In this interview with Asia Law Portal, King details the current state of legal innovation in New Zealand.
You’re the founder of LegalTechHub, a portal for legaltech in NZ. Tell us more about it
The Legaltech Hub is the go-to resource for legal tech in New Zealand.
It is all free resource that provides both resources and legal tech solutions to help legal professionals to innovate and improve the way they deliver legal services now and into the future.
Recently we have strengthened the LegalTech Hub’s position, largely to bring the legal and technology community together in New Zealand at this challenging time with COVID-19. I believe legal tech is now in the spotlight more than ever, and there is a real interest in what technologies are available that can help the legal community at this time. The dedicated Legaltech Hub helps to meet this renewed interest.
One of the key features is the directory of fantastic technology firms providing products and services to the New Zealand legal market. Very simply, it is proving to be a valuable resource for those seeking more information about the legal tech solutions available, together with contact details and more information about ‘what they do’ and how they may help. Needless to say the Legaltech Hub is the place for all legal tech providers in New Zealand to be present – if you provide legal tech products or services in New Zealand (or may want to), being listed on the Legaltech Hub is a must.
The Legaltech Hub is not solely the website but more a combination of multiple channels including social media and communicating with subscribers to keep the New Zealand legal and technology community informed of everything they need to know about legal tech in New Zealand. Much of the exposure is through the multiple social media channels and reach for the legal tech companies and the legal industry seeking more information to help their delivery of legal services in this changing market.
You’re the founder of e-discovery and legal innovation consultancies. What are they and what is their focus?
E-Discovery Consulting provides independent advice on any aspect of the discovery process, helping clients meet their legal obligations and the practical discovery requirements – from the start to finish of the process. Unless undertaken effectively the costs and burden of the discovery process can easily (and quickly) spiral out of control. To address this, I help clients to work smarter and simplify their discovery process.
With Legal Innovate it is all about helping lawyers and their organisations successfully innovate to improve the way they deliver legal services now and into the future. I help organisations understand what’s going on, what’s available and find the right solutions. At the same time, I look to challenge their thinking and provide a fresh perspective to help them leverage technology.
You’re the organizing force behind LawFest. What is LawFest and what does it have planned for the future?
LawFest is a one-day event designed for all legal professionals with an interest in innovation and leveraging technology – attended by more than 250 attendees each year. In addition, it is the only legal event in New Zealand providing the opportunity to meet and see all the leading legal technology in the one place on the one day.
The event is all about challenging the thinking of legal professionals – helping them to adapt and thrive in a profession that’s facing considerable change and explore opportunities to deliver legal services for today and the future. Often this is about encouraging them to think differently, to what they may have been accustomed. LawFest is the event for all legal professionals, from those new to technology, through to the those at the forefront of legal innovation aiming to stay ahead of the game.
We stay away from fear and trying to tell people why to change, with having speakers focus more on the HOW they have innovated and made change, by providing practical examples of their journey of what they are doing, how they started and what comes next. This also includes their stories of success, but also failures they have experienced and then what came next. The whole embracing and learning from failure is key to innovating, something that can far too often discourage people from taking that next step.
Like many other events we had to take the necessary step of postponing our 2020 event due to COVID-19. However, we are currently working through how LawFest will be back bigger and better in 2021, at a time where there will be considerable interest from having experienced the need to adapt and embrace change.
We are currently working on plans for a virtual event potentially in August, so stay tuned on this front.
I firmly believe the legal community now more than ever needs to be embracing legal tech and innovation to help their businesses survive and maybe even thrive in this environment. As such I think there is strong demand for an event delivers this type of content virtually – as it seems unlikely that restrictions of business conferences seem unlikely to lift this year, even if other restrictions are eased.
What is the current state of legal innovation in New Zealand?
If you asked me a few years back I would have said that legal innovation in New Zealand was definitely behind the eight ball compared to globally, but over recent times we have seen a continual shift from why we need to innovate to actually how we go about it. This comes at a time that most legal organisations are facing increasing pressures to provide faster, cheaper and better legal services.
An increasing number of lawyers and their firms are opening up to the opportunities to innovate through leveraging technology. This includes a greater focus on building the right culture inside organisations to enable innovation – a culture that is curious and open to change. At the same time being a lot more client centric in how legal services are delivered – as client’s expectations are changing.
In practice routine and repetitive administrative tasks are being automated, freeing up lawyers to spend more time working with their clients to create better outcomes. Many of these tasks are now being performed quicker, cheaper and more accurately through the assistance of technology.
Even then, people are at different points along the innovation journey, some do get too caught up in that innovation means just embracing technology, believing it would solve the problem when the role of technology is the enabler to innovate. For me it has always been people, process and then comes the technology.
As a result of COVID-19, the legal industry like so many others have been thrown in at the deep end to adapt how they work.
What has been heartening has been to see so many that have been able to adapt, embrace and lead the changes that we now face, whilst also reaching out to others. Many of those that have been able to quickly adapt, whilst embracing and leading change have been both speakers & regular attendees at LawFest over recent years – where they have shared or learnt from others on their innovation journeys. These stories will continue to inspire and challenge us going forward.
Unsurprisingly those that have struggled are ones that have continued with traditional ways of working and how they have delivered legal services – all of a sudden this is largely not been viable unless you can be agile and adapt to the changing situation.
The COVID-19 situation is providing considerable opportunities for the legal industry to re-evaluate how they deliver legal services for now and the future. Even though these are challenging times, they will definitely bring new opportunities, especially if we can be agile, adapt and embrace change – changes that should pay considerable dividends in helping shape the delivery of legal services for a long time to come.
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