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Ask Aliya: How to Get Your Company on Board with Automation

“Ask Aliya” is a column for lawyers who are the first legal hire at their company and need advice from an in-house lawyer who has been there before. Aliya Ramji is the director of legal and business strategy for Figure 1 Inc., a network used by more than 1 million healthcare professionals to share cases and collaborate. To have your legal questions for startups answered, email aramji@figure1.com with "Ask Aliya" in the subject line.

 

Hi Aliya,

I work for a bank and I am not the first legal counsel at my organization. I lead a team of seven senior lawyers and I want them to start using new technologies, including services that automate contract review and legal research. One of the challenges I am facing is that the bank and, more specifically, the lawyers are very resistant to technology. How do I get them to use new tools?
 
Signed,
 
Living in the 60s
 

Dear Living in the 60s,

 
Adopting technology into the workplace is a challenge, not just for lawyers, but also for most professionals. A lot of people find change difficult and what you are trying to do is fundamental change the way your team practices law. This can result in many fears of being replaced by technology or that the technology could fail. In addition, lawyers have particular security and privacy concerns. All of these issues are valid but, with the right messaging and precautionary steps, they are navigable.
 
While automated contract review and legal research will allow lawyers to be more productive and efficient, there is the possibility that automation will result in job elimination and research skills becoming obsolete. This is a legitimate fear in the legal industry. There is a sense of unease because people don't know if technology is going to replace them. To combat this fear, it is important to explain that new tools are there to augment their legal practice, not replace them. Someone will still need to think through the draft clauses or the results of the research.  
 
Lawyers may also fear that automation could result in missing pieces. Automation is great for legal research but a lawyer will always be required to determine the search terms, to change the parameters, or to identify alternative search terms. Even if a search tool can identify the relevant cases and predict opposing counsel’s arguments, a lawyer will always be required to ensure that the research is thorough. Again, the technology tools are just that — tools that enable lawyers to work faster and more efficiently.
 
Some lawyers may be concerned about the privacy and security concerns associated with technology tools. When choosing practice management, contract drafting, or legal research software, you should look at the security and privacy features of the software. Legal software developers know the importance of privacy and security and some apps and software have bank grade security. It is important that you and your department understand the security features of whatever technology you choose and supplement those security features by using secure servers, backing up data, and creating appropriate policies when supplying and accessing confidential information to software.
 
Technology doesn’t have to be scary when lawyers are well informed and understand the features. Moreover, while technology will enable lawyers to work faster and more efficiently, it will not take away the requirement for human judgment. The use of technology is inevitable and your colleagues should find ways of using technology to free up time for strategic initiatives. As legal research and drafting becomes automated, remind your colleagues that these tools will augment their practice in only positive ways. Good luck!
 
Best,
 
Aliya 

The above is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and cannot be used as such. For additional resources and support, please ensure proper legal advice is obtained.

About the Author

Ramji, AliyaAliya Ramji is the director of legal and business strategy for Figure 1 Inc. She also was a 2016 recipient of ACC’s Top 10 30-Somethings.


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