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What factors are preventing innovation in-house?

Australia is a country the world should be keeping its eyes on for legal tech in 2020, despite adoption not being at the levels it should, writes Matthew Kay.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 21 January 2020 Corporate Counsel
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The new year saw Australia named as one of the top countries to watch in 2020 for legal tech. Key reasons cited for this were the impressive growth seen across the sector and the plethora of exciting new start-ups which caught the eye of, and investment from, global companies.

However, despite these exciting new developments in the country, legal technology isn’t being adopted as much as it could be. A survey last year found that Australia is below the global average in legal in-house teams using new technology.

Now that we’ve reached the next decade, will advancements in areas such as e-discovery, collaboration applications and chatbots help Australian corporate counsel? Not without tackling why in-house legal departments aren’t already using the existing technology that could help them.


Despite these exciting new gadgets, software and devices – stumbling blocks still persist which are preventing legal departments from adopting technologies, which have prevented innovation. Yet what are these challenges and how can they be overcome?

Knowledge and skills

Despite a willingness to adopt more technology solutions, Thomson Reuters found that legal departments were not fully confident working with technologies, such as AI. A lack of awareness around technology options, how it can assist and the necessary skill sets can all be barriers to adopting technology that will drive efficiency.

Holding talks, educational workshops and attending legal technology events can be a great way for GCs to understand what may work for their departments, and learn from others that implemented it.


Fear around change isn’t a new concept but, it can negatively impact the efficiency of an in-house legal department. Clearly communicating the direct benefits of implementing a new technology is crucial in helping teams adopt it.

Understanding why people may be resistant and the concerns they have means that they can be addressed early on and involves the team in the long-term vision for the use of legal technology.


At a time when the in-house legal team’s budget has shrunk the spend on legal technology can be difficult to justify. An expensive product, even if it could save money and drive efficiency in the long term, can be tricky for smaller companies to afford.

GCs should do their research and collect information – anecdotal and the empirical evidence as to why it’s a good investment for the legal department to have and how it can positively impact the rest of the company.

With big deals and innovative new players in the legal technology sphere now headline-grabbing stories, it will be exciting to see how Australia’s scene will grow in 2020. The key takeaways for GCs? Watch closely, engage with the scene, and communicate the benefits, to help overcome the stumbling blocks.

Matthew Kay is managing director of Vario from Pinsent Masons.


Interested in the issues shaping the roles of in-house lawyers? Don’t miss your chance to hear from local and global in-house legal powerhouses at the Corporate Counsel Summit 2020!

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