LegalBusinessWorld Posts

If “Software Is Eating the World,”* Is Legal Service on the Menu?

October 31, 2017

* “Why Software Is Eating the World”, Marc Andreessen, The Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2011; see also “Software Is Still Eating the World”, Jeetu Patel, TechCrunch.com, June 7, 2016.

 

The media is buzzing with disruptions and changes in the legal service industry & profession. Most of the talk is about clients demanding more for less, a buyer’s market that shifts toward alternative fee arrangements, the emergence of alternative legal service providers, e.g., an early one being Axiom. 

 

 

Also, there are more and more discussions of legal technology, or Legal Tech, often reported in the same breath as artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. Legal Tech has been taking increasingly center stage. Illustrations of topics such as AI & robot lawyers may refer to a number of offerings, such as: Extracting data from volume of documents for analysis - IBM Watson/ROSS, RAVN System, Kira Systems, more common e-discovery tools; Predicting legal judgments, grounding legal advice more to outcome – LexPredict, LexMachina, perhaps ROSS;   

 

  • External legal spend management programs like Brightflag or risk management systems like Intraspexion that have as their core some level of natural language processing technologies. 

It goes without saying that legal practice management such as Clio and iManage (which acquired RAVN in May 2017) have been proliferating.  

 

Benefits of Legal Tech in the longer term would include: capturing institutional knowledge and enabling user interface with it, improved workflow across functions, processes and activities to optimize values of the collective resources, standardized reports and other interactions that operationalize an organization’s approach to analyses and decision making (such as RASIC1), automation of routine tasks, enhanced control over expenses and budgeting. For now, unfortunately, tech companies and start-ups perceive demands from lawyers mostly to improve the practice experience and to meet cost pressure.  

 

Legal Tech has its roots in research – recall the Lexis/Nexis and Westlaw terminals in the law library [what do people do in a law library today?], and it seems that today’s tools continue to serve more lawyers than their clients’ purposes. Yet compared to other industries, the legal profession has not yet embraced and leveraged technology to serve itself, and even less, its clients. 

 

The legal profession remains an illustration of the saying that innovation has arrived, but it is just not evenly distributed2.  The stereotype that many lawyers having gone to law schools to avoid math, sciences, tech and engineering does not explain this pace of  Legal Tech adoption. So far, the market has not offered sufficient help. A walk through a Legal Tech show and browsing through some marketing communication content will surface major challenges in this space, such as dialogues between salespeople who have little to no legal practice background and less-than-informed lawyers (and not so empowered IT and BD managers supporting lawyers); products that coders have written for some customers3 that has foregone needed, fresh design thinking due to budget restrictions.   

 

In other words, many gaps remain to be filled in the space among law, business and technology, as people with sufficient background to traverse all three domains continue to be rare.   

 

An apology is in order to readers who expect an update on the latest Legal Tech products and intelligence, but first thing first: we need to acknowledge the problem and put a mirror to the profession to understand and convince ourselves and those we work with what we need to solve at the root cause level. As it is often the case, technology is not the principal solution to a problem, but Legal Tech will help drive the legal profession to reinvent itself to be a part of the transformed legal service industry.  

 

The Cart Before the Horse 

When we pause and take note of other fields that are impacted by turbulence and disruption, it will reveal that the mere pursuit of technology is like putting the cart before the horse. This is because: 

  • As in the legal service sector, adoption of technology has been unsatisfactory at best; 

  • Design & implementation of technology often did not pay enough attention to  

  • alignment with people-process-system, i.e., the “culture” in organizations; 

  • Many organizations that are investing in data analytics resources are still at a stage of justifying the return from these efforts. 

 

We know that “culture eats strategy for breakfast4,” but in this case it’s technology that is on the menu. So, is the culture of the legal profession on software’s menu or is Legal Tech on legal culture’s menu?  Regardless a reflection on the legal profession’s culture is in order.  

 

Ben Heinemann, Jr., a former GC at GE has observed: if lawyers are generally naysayers, we risk being excluded from decision making; but if we are only yea-sayers, we risk being indicted5.   

 

Once again it comes down to finding the critical balance. However, unlike the scale of blind justice, this balancing act requires engagement with eyes wide open, and with a focus on:  

  • being connected with the vital interest of the organization and the value proposition to its customers so that lawyers can optimize risks commensurate with opportunities.  

  • It may seem ironic, but it is precisely during times of turbulence when we tack into a different direction that organizations need more granularity in managing risk.

     

A prerequisite to achieving this is to be truly a part of the team - getting into and staying in gear with the rest of the organization, value net and ecosystem. However, many observe that lawyers are more individual contributors than team players. This is in part due to the selection process in law schools, with a view to train experts in law and generally in isolation from other fields or disciplines, thus severely hampering the ability to practice law as a “T-shaped”6 professional. The resulting challenge in accessing information relevant for problem solving, asking the bigger picture question and designing more effective solutions usually end up in a retreat to the safety of risk-adverse solutions, reinforcing a negative cycle in the lawyer-client relationship. This aggravates the perception of a profession based much on precedents by creating a backward looking stereotype. Ever more removed from practicing preventive law and mired in low impact remedial tasks, harried lawyers drown in daily work and do not have the time to look up and focus on efforts that yield higher impact. In todays’ environment of doing more with less, and a general client revolt against paying professional rates for informational and routine work, many lawyers would consider themselves successful if they can manage costs through a budget cycle.  

 

Some lawyers may take consolation in the profession seen as a bastion of ethics and a braking force that complements the engine of business. Of course, there are limits to the principle of managing risk to be commensurate with opportunities. But being an organization’s conscience, if indeed possible7, does not let lawyers off from being effective and efficient. At any rate, managing risk in isolation from opportunities is abstract and meaningless in practice, and futile to those who manage risk but do not have their fingers on necessary data. Just ask most chief compliance officers (and soccer goalkeepers who are not set up for robust communication with teammates up and down the field) what it means to defend against the downside outside the context of the entire game.  

 

In times between major changes, incumbents have much to lose and keep risks to a minimum. When we sail into major shifts in the wind, taking little to no chances basically ensures obsolescence, and balancing risks commensurate with opportunities becomes instrumental to transformation and thus survival. But is this too much to ask lawyers to do?  

 

Lawyers’ Raison d’être and Legal Tech 

A more relevant question may be whether most lawyers today can be deployed as T-shaped professionals. Applying knowledge of law to facts and asking the right questions can be learned on the job, especially for the increasing population of in-house counsel who live at the crossroads of law and business. To be sure, managing risk commensurate with opportunities requires one to be driven by data to seek actionable insight.  

 

Working with facts & evidence is not foreign to lawyers and starts with the first lesson in law schools. Together with legal expertise, an analytical mind to spot issues and creativity to design devices and solutions form the foundation of lawyering. However, unlike the heroic lawyers in Hollywood scripts, most lawyers end up working with only facts and data given to them, usually by people who are not legally savvy or more interested in covering one’s tracks when the problem has gone too far. 

Most lawyers have been operating on “anec-data” rather than more robust data, both in terms of what they receive from clients as well as a representation of legal risks in the field. While many still deliver helpful and responsive lawyering and insights to clients, “we don’t know what we don’t know,” leading to more risk-adverse bias in the approach to legal issues. While the era of “Big Data” has brought the equivalent of the microscope to many fields to open the eyes to aspects which had remained unknown before, its application in the legal profession remains to be developed.

 

In fact, the possibilities of data analytics surface three categories of lawyering styles8: 

  • Whack a mole lawyers - who constantly chase after problems, only to find more springing up, thus seeing legal problems everywhere 

    • Approach – Create “fear and friction within organizations and the impression that there is a legal disaster around the corner” and slant solutions toward minimum risks 

    • Often seen going to benchmark among like-minded lawyers and identify new legal issues and best practices 

  • Clever wordsmiths – who find solutions and compromises to issues for the moment 

    • Approach - Help clients shift (or distort) external perception of risks through legal devices and “kick the can down the road” 

    • Often seen creating paper trails and “memos to file” on complex or inchoate issues to cover for any liability in case of accusation or claims should the unexpected transpires 

  • Legal strategists and engineers – who “design systems that balance risks (with opportunities) and improve transparency” 

    • Approach - Help clients correctly price risks internally 

    • Often seen working with clients to collect/fine-tune data, design analytics and experiments to test opportunities/risks sets, build predictability and a portfolio approach to tradeoffs of risks & opportunities.

Of these three categories, only the last group will truly pursue data analytics as an integral part of their work and reason for existence.   

 

The day will arrive when lawyers define and quantify risks and cooperate meaningfully with other stakeholders to make decisions to assess and capture opportunities that advance the organization’s strategy. This will be enabled by filling lawyers’ ranks with more T-shape professionals, cracking the cocoons of legal complexity and integrating it into enterprise value, and with lawyers speaking the language of the enterprise owners. 

 

At the same time, business and functional stakeholders, the “clients” of the lawyers, will also upgrade themselves to be more legally savvy. This will reverse the current downward dynamics toward a virtuous cycle, and enable the T-shaped lawyers to ask the right questions and access pivotal data to generate and deliver legal insight that matters more to their clients.  

 

To keep Legal Tech from the menu of legal culture, the legal profession needs to overcome one more common obstacle: our notion that most legal services is bespoke, a conceit imbued from law school to retirement.  

 

The Spectrum of Lawyering 

Richard Susskind had shown us that not all legal work product is bespoke. In fact, increasingly sophisticated and data driven clients are reshaping the perception of how much legal work delivered justifies the bespoke price. Usually legal tasks are distributed over a spectrum of services, categorized as bespoke, standardized, systematized, packaged and commoditized work products9. In other words, legal solutions are far from unique to each client, due consideration is given to some customization and facts assessments. In ways that are reminiscent of the magic of the calculator in 1960s10, legal analyses, reasoning and solutions also come to pass after being tested out on sufficient clients and circumstances.  

 

In the access to justice (A2J) sector, often in environments where necessity begets innovation, Legal Tech is based on redistribution of legal tasks across the spectrum in legal processes. Take, for example, the in-take of applicants and screening their case background in immigration deportation hearings, and helping indigents to fill in forms and to tell their stories as part of running the gauntlet of applying for benefits. In healthcare, particularly in developing countries where medical resources and doctors are scarce, remote diagnosis and treatments that may be the only solutions logistically and/or economically would not be possible if all tasks remain part of doctors’ bespoke domain11.  

 

Yet when lawyers talk about the legal function12, the odds are high that one of the first topics is the size of the legal team or the size of the law firm. This illustrates the history of lawyers in throwing people at problems and the perception of the value lawyers create as proportional to the labor committed. While this may have been a viable business case for some law firms that can defend their business volume, price and market share, some in-house counsel has discovered that the more lawyers they hire, the more work there seems to be. 

This may raise a question of whether the number of lawyers or hours may serve as a valid proxy for value created.

 

Until lawyers start to build basic effort/impact calculus into the way we work, we will continue find ourselves running inside (or spinning) wheels. Common sense will tell us that instead of relying on expensive professionals, i.e., labor, people should manage the legal processes and start investing in software, i.e., capital, to handle certain tasks. The way big banks prepare for resolution and recovery plans, AKA “living wills,” may illustrate this point.   

 

AI As Das Neu Kapital? 

As part of the exercise to tackle the “too big to fail” problem, banks have been put to stress tests and required to plan for crises like the those in 2008. These plans involve initially extracting data from tens of thousands of contracts and other documents to inform regulators on a bank’s balance sheet. Lawyers certainly are part of the process of parsing relevant terms in these contracts, disaggregating, organizing, classifying millions of pieces of information for coding, storage and reconstructing them into something useful when needed and to meet regulatory standards13. Paul Lippe, a lawyer and a leader in Legal Tech, told the story of how after the human review of the first ten percent of the contracts, IBM’s Watson system took over to perform similar review and processing of the rest.  

 

Without going into whether this is an example of an expert system based on a lexicon or a deep learning system equipped with natural language processing capabilities, we can see that ultimately this is still automation of largely repetitive, albeit more complex, tasks, with lawyers working with process and data experts and coders to train a machine or algorithm to do. The takeaway is that lawyers can branch out into the truly bespoke part of deal making such as negotiating to address vital interests of human parties and influencers, armed with information and insight that even junior lawyers would find tedious to produce, and certainly not with the same productivity as AI.  

 

Does it follow that human legal practice is not yet to be eaten by software? It appears to be the case that so long as lawyers 1) accept and find ways to work across the bespoke-commodity tasks spectrum, and 2) work side by side to train the machines and to leverage unique comparative advantages of each side, we can actually wield AI and other tools to leverage the rich data available today to deliver value as never before. Think Ironman rather than Terminator.  

 

Another way to picture this augmented, not merely artificial, intelligence is another movie, Sully, which is based on the story of Captain Sullenberger's January 2009 emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River. While legal tasks and projects will be “flown” like most planes today, mostly by algorithm and occasionally by human pilots, economics (e.g., insurers) and society will still require lawyers to manage and audit these tasks albeit at an escalated level. However, rather than one plane at a time, lawyers can manage multiple activities, algorithms and systems.  

 

Ed Walters’s response to the question “will AI replace lawyers?” is “did electricity [or artificial power] replace engineers?” This leading question reminds us that the ranks of engineers multiplied rather than decreased, just as the advent of the ATMs increased the number of human bank tellers who now do other work that machines could not do. However, the   engineers today more than ever work withdesign thinking, unless hubris induces them, from time to time, to engineer for engineering’s sake, thus taking the eyes off the prime directive of value proposition to customers. Sounds familiar?  

 

In Search of Values for Customers 

Traditional auto companies are discovering, in the post-ICE (internal combustion engine) world, not everything is about the marvel of sophisticated engineering and complex system as the customer value proposition shifts from a physical product to mobility. Replacement of the powertrain (mainly ICE and transmission) by electric motors has launched a storm of design thinking regarding the purpose of the vehicle as well as its physical specs and functions. Changing business models from pipelines to platforms will blur the lines between traditional and new players as well as focus everyone on understanding, and integration into, the customers’ purpose and asks.  

Lawyers may also discover that Legal Tech’s focus today on serving the lawyers’ traditional business model of selling hours (input) may also give way to other propositions that better integrate legal services to the purpose of customers, such as throughput and output, i.e., solving the client’s problem rather than documenting legal intricacies in 50-page “briefs” and gauging hours worked and billed as value delivered.  

 

While efficiency may be the main subject of Legal Tech today, lawyers need to get into gear with efficacy - the strategy of the organizations that they serve, whether the organization is commercial, not-for-profit or public. The lead horse before the Legal Tech cart must be your customer’s strategy or reason to exist. This is in turn driven by your customer’s stakeholders and the stakeholders’ stakeholders, ending with the ultimate customers and stakeholders in the ecosystem.  

 

The lawyer’s domain has always been to manage relationship among parties. Going into the future, the design of legal devices, such as contracts and conflict resolutions, will require lawyers to get back into the game of designing and solving for relationships proactively and based on data that they have an equal part in mining and shaping.  

 

Legal Tech offerings today have started to populate the spheres intersected by Law and Tech, but they still land far from the Clients’ Ask (see diagram below). Technology that helps lawyers to keep track of hours worked and billed does not concern the client’s value proposition. While auditing time sheets, alternative fees arrangements and RFP platforms play a role on driving savings, they are of totally different concern than process improvement products and services that automate non-bespoke legal tasks and are accretive to decisions connected with the bigger picture. 

 

Offerings that provide integrated modules covering matter management, self-service, protocol for escalation, document management from creation to tickler and archiving, risk reporting, knowledge management and even visualizations and dash board tools will return value only when they are leveraged by transformed legal functions.  

 

The transformation journey from the perception of being a cost center in an organization to a strategic function in the C-suite is not paved by savings alone (although efficiency has become table stakes for funding initiatives). Even after processes have been mapped and analyzed, often the heart of the project in changing ways of working will require connections to core purposes to succeed.  

 

Efficiency is only the start of the transformation, and the real yield from Legal Tech will rest on delivering actionable insight and in turn efficacy to serve the client’s purpose. To do so, Legal Tech must plug into the strategy, operations and culture of the organization, its value chain through the end customer’s “job to be done”14 and user experience. 

 

While analytics of Big Data has re-focused us onto a bottom-up approach to customers’ value propositions and demand us to articulate the customers’ “jobs to be done,” they still need to be complemented by the top-down corporate business strategies, navigating the culture of the organization and the emotional intelligence to realize both15. This is where the human side solution, beyond expertise, brings to the table where AI still needs nurturing and may not surpass these human capabilities for a while.  

 

A Roadmap of Legal Function Transformation 

At the outset, each organization must decide on a champion of the transformation. The track record tells us that thus far, the in-house counsel has not been the first to come out to lead this change. On the other hand, a few law firms have defied expectations and demonstrated experiments with harbingers of change. What we do know is: any strategic transformation must relate in some way to the strategy of the organization, and it must have the ownership and encouragement of senior leadership, starting from the CEO.

 

 

Given the continuing gap between the domains of business and law, both businesses and other functions in organizations, and hopefully their legal functions, will lead this change, starting with a) enhancing the legal function to be more commercial and strategic and b) inducing business and the rest of the organization to be more law savvy.  

 

Here an ideal start requires voluntary and interested participation of lawyers into the organization’s strategies and operations, equipped with more T-shaped talent. This should be coupled with invitations across businesses and corporate functions to immerse into the fabric and chemistry of strategies and operations. When the legal function starts to earn a shift in expectation of what lawyers can contribute beyond dispute resolution, papering transactions and consulting on compliance with legal requirements, it can truly partner with businesses with access to relevant data to build one or more corporate legal strategies (CLS) that springs from business strategies and are joined at the hip with the rest of the organization.  

 

Guided by a living CLS process, lawyers and the rest of the organization can prioritize, through ongoing legal process management (LPM), improvement of business processes that the legal function touches. As part of CLS, LPMs should focus on enabling business strategies, operational initiatives and even business model transformation. Improving legal service delivery will be the starting point to measure the impact of legal function transformation. Sometimes, this will mean freeing lawyers from certain erstwhile bespoke activities, now standardized and systematized, in order to reorient to seek and design legal services that deliver more impact on business strategies and operations.  

 

LPMs, in addition to driving for efficiency, will empower the legal function and its stakeholders to reengineer legal and adjacent tasks based on what make sense to the organization and its resources; re-focus on what lawyers do best; and update a historical and narrow expectation of a legal service provider. Some LPMs in the first phase in transformation may help to establish and ground the legal function as a true partner of businesses, but the bulk of value will come through later LPMs that will be guided by the evolving CLSs of the organization.  

 

To the extent the legal function of the organization includes external resources, in-house counsel will need to include outside counsel, and increasingly other providers of legal services, as part of the reengineering of the legal function into an integrated value chain. This is to generate common purposes and measures to explore business cases with clients to take the legal function to the next level. “Service productization” leveraging Legal Tech to automate less bespoke offerings will likely be a win-win strategy so long as it enables the legal function to serve the overall organization’s purpose and strategy (efficacy) in addition to bringing efficiency to processes involving external parties.  

 

On the basis of CLS, LPM and a rationalized legal service value chain, business and legal function leaders can rethink the role of the legal function as beyond traditional remedial expectations, ready to include preventive, commercial and even strategic elements, and better to integrate into the people, process and operational platforms that track the organization’s business model.  

This is not the first time that strategy and data serve as the foundation for solutions involving the legal function. Examples of how strategy and process management can transform areas that have involved but befuddled lawyers include IPR protection, such as anti-counterfeit/anti-piracy strategies and operations, and strategic compliance16, an even more complex enterprise.  

 

Only when the legal function transformation is grounded in strategy, processes and resources management can it optimize and leverage Legal Tech to achieve results that mere human actors cannot deliver. Much of this will come in terms of lifting throughput and harnessing outputs such as insights to enable decisions and actions that many AI providers aspire to bring. At any rate, the foundation of value creation by the legal function will be a close collaboration of business and legal personnel, which will in turn generate the data to be analyzed for actionable insights to enhance corporate strategies and decisions. This will solve the greatest challenge to legal practice since the dawn of the profession – access to information and evidence that make a difference.  

 

Return of investment and other KPIs will still be part of the prerequisites for developing Legal Tech. However, when technology is associated with a function that is integral to an organization’s strategy and reason for existence, as opposed to just a cost center, the dialogue will be at a different level and certainly integrated with the digital journey that organizations are undertaking. While this will be the subject for another chapter, some Legal Tech will connect with the Internet of Things, create sensors where needed and build what we can call the Internet of Legal Things. We can look forward to situational self-help tools for non-lawyers, integrated with other tools and escalation protocol to facilitate decisions and complete tasks; designing cognitive check points to identify issues, such as use of inappropriate language in market communication or other media or questionable activities like frequent communication with industry competitors. The exploration of block chain technology to make computable contracts a reality is already on its way.  

 

To summarize, Legal Tech must be grounded on a successful legal function transformation prescribed by the four Cs across an organization: 

  • Command – From a top-down leadership to drive change based on interdisciplinary cooperation and a common purpose, not just a legal department project; 

  • Connection - With the strategy to shape and sustain a business model to satisfy customer needs - not technology for technology’s sake - and ultimately with the customer’s value proposition; 

  • Culture (& capability) - Especially toward collaboration and creativity in problem solving in a digital world, and more proactive thinking like an enterprise owner; 

  • Commitment - To stay the course as transformation requires alignment of disparate interests and keeping an eye on moving the needle over twists and turns.  

 

Change Management 

Although a discussion of change management is also beyond the scope of this article, this well-trodden field in business and technology requires a mention. While there is no shortage

 

of best practices and guidance, there is no substitute for leadership and determination, as conversion is achieved, one person at a time. Adoption of technology is very much an exercise in affecting change - changing the culture that is people-process-systems in which people have developed their own interest such as job security, convenience, power structure and vendor relationships.  

 

When driving into an unknown future, one may rely on the rearview mirror only if you are sure that the road will not make a turn, but the turning of the road is one thing we are certain about. A better way to put this is another quote attributable to Peter Drucker: “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.”  

 

Note: This article is based on a talk given at a class reunion at the Columbia Law School in June 2017.     

Notes 

1. RASIC is a tool to manage work flow and cooperation across functions, standing for who will be in roles such as be Responsible, Accountable, Supporting, Informed or Consulted.  

2. The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services, Richard Susskind, Oxford University Press, 2008 (referring to a quote from the author, William Gibson, in Section 1.5). 

3. For the purpose of this article, a customer of legal services or a client means either an individual or an organization. However, the reference to strategies and reasons for existence will generally be with respect to organizations and especially businesses although individuals may have similar albeit simpler purposes.  

4. A quote attributed to Peter Drucker.  

5. “The Inside Counsel Revolution,” Benjamin W. Heinemann, Jr., Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Finance Regulations, March 29, 2016 (based on an article that first appeared in Corporate Counsel magazine).

6. The 21st-Century T-Shaped Lawyer, R. Amani Smathers, ABA Law Practice Magazine, Volume 40 Number 4, July/August 2014 (https://www.americanbar.org/publications/law_practice_magazine/2014/july-august/the-21st-century-t-shaped-lawyer.html); see also Why Everyone's Talking About 'T-shaped' Professionals, EAB Daily Briefing, August 15, 2016 (https://www.eab.com/daily-briefing/2016/08/15/why-everyones-talking-about-t-shaped-professionals).

7. At any rate, it would be “above anyone’s paygrade” to assign anyone to be the conscience of an organization. As GE and other exemplary practitioners have demonstrated, compliance is part of everyone’s job.

8. “Measure Twice, Cut Once: Solving the Legal Profession’s Biggest Problems Together”, V. Mary Abraham, aboveandbeyondkm.com, Aug 30, 2016 (noting the keynote speaker, Dan Katz’s, reference to Paul Lippe’s insight on the three types of lawyers).

9. Richard Susskind, Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction To Your Future, Oxford University Press, 2013. Essentially the same analysis appears in Susskind’s earlier book, The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services, referenced above.

10. The first solid state electronic calculator which is based on the abacus (circa 2000 BC), and the mechanical calculator (circa 17th century AD) might have been considered the AI back then. Similarly, IBM’s Deep Blue that defeated the world chess championship, almost AI like in 1996, today may be in the midst of packaged computer programs that accomplish essentially the same purpose and may be even freely downloaded. Google’s Alpha Go’s defeat of world champion of go, an even more complex game, in due time will also be considered another tool of common usage.

11. For an example of a journey from the bespoke, see Richard’s Susskind account of his work developing an expert system serving as a decision tree based on the Latent Damage Act 1986 in the U.K. (Section 1.3 in his The End of Lawyers? book). This article’s author also had the fortunate experience around the same time serving as the legal lead in developing a foreign tax credit software for the consulting business of a then Big Eight firm.

12. The term legal function may commonly mean legal department, but in this article, legal function also means the domain or vertical with the legal expertise and resource to deliver services involving law and regulations to a client. Today the legal functions are generally headed by a top lawyer/manager, commonly called general counsel, supported by in-house legal staff and outside counsel and “ancillary” services providers. Increasingly, we will see the legal function transform with participation with more non-lawyers, and it will be up to how lawyers elevate themselves as strategists and solution providers to remain at the center of the transforming legal function value chain.

13. “IBM Watson: It’s (Almost) Elementary,” Joe Calve, The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, May 24, 2017.

14. Know Your Customers’ “Jobs to Be Done”,Clayton M. Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David S. Duncan, Harvard Business Review, September 2016.

15. 3 Things Are Holding Back Your Analytics, and Technology Isn’t One of Them, by Todd Clark and Dan Wiesenfeld, Harvard Business Review, June 8 2017.

16.“Five Currents Pointing to Compliance As a Strategic Function,” Kenneth Tung, Linkedin Post, May 17, 2017.

 

 

 

About the Author 

Kenny Tung is General Counsel at Lex Sigma Ltd., where, in addition to facilitating strategic projects and transactions, he served as the China advisor to a top U.S. PE fund and currently as the Asia Pacific advisor to one of the world’s top auto components companies.   

 

Kenny also co-founded In-Gear Legalytics Ltd. to complement and serve providers, clients, developers and investors in the legal service value net. They do this by bringing efficacy and efficiency into the profession through data analytics of risks and opportunities, process management and retooling of  hard and soft skills.  Previously Mr Tung served as the Chief Legal Counsel of Geely Holding and before that as general counsel in the region at PepsiCo, Goodyear, Honeywell and Kodak where he fielded a vast variety of issues and projects and drove efficiency projects/practices. In 1994, he came to China as a lawyer with Coudert Brothers and led major projects such as the Shanghai GM JV negotiation. Born in Hong Kong to Shanghainese parents, Kenny received his bachelor and JD degrees from Columbia University and practiced in New York City before coming to China.   

 

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