Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer at the start of the year created a centralised legal operations team led by Jamie Whalebone. Here he talks to editor Caroline Hill about his role, the role of the new team and their toolbox.
Jamie, tell us about you?
I run Freshfields’ Legal Technology Operations team. We work with a lot of different legal tech tools because Manchester is our natural home for the likes of Kira Systems, which works well on the large transactions that take place in the Legal Services Centre. We have started to raise the profile of legal tech within LSC matter delivery, over the last 18 months there’s been a more global understanding of what these tools can do.
What are the pros and cons of the Manchester office?
It’s a new office with a fresh mind-set and new thinking. We are not limited by the nature of a long- established office: there’s lots of flexibility to think about different models of working and collaboration between teams is key. It might seem tricky when you can’t just go to a 4pm client meeting, but the use of tools like Skype and planned workshops are a great way to establish that tangible link with clients.
Where do you fit in the firm?
The Legal Technology Operations team was created at the start of the year. The team sits within our Global Technology & Innovation group, working closely alongside our LSC team for client delivery work.
The idea is that Legal Technology Operations is a bridge that helps to connect fee-earners and our Global Technology and Innovation Team or the LSC delivery team. I work with all of them. Most of my team have a legal background as well as a good understanding of technology so they can interpret requirements and act as a gateway between the different teams, depending on the best way to service the requirements.
My team has a strong delivery mindset, so when a problem comes in we’ll look at the best way to deploy legal tech alongside the LSC. If a matter comes in and that will need people from LSC, my team would be
assigned alongside to advise on what legal tech is used. The idea of a centralised team is to make sure that discussion is being had in each case. We deliberately called it Legal Technology Operations so that clients
can relate to what we do.
It requires quite specialist knowledge to use these tools, and it can be hard for the relationship partner to know when to pick up the phone, but now we’re seeing matters using legal tech it’s easier.
Tell us about your toolkit
We have a toolbox of different technology we can turn to and at the moment we’re working quite hard to spread the knowledge internally so that the fee-earners are aware. We have machine learning contract analysis; expert logic and document automation tools. One key thing is that it shouldn’t matter what practice area we look at, we look in our toolkit for the best solution. Equally, we are always looking for new tools that can support our clients and our business.
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