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Law disrupted to the point of distraction

user iconMelissa Coade 20 October 2016 NewLaw
Law disrupted to the point of distraction

An important part of the next chapter of the disruption narrative in law is collaboration, the founder of Hive Legal has said.

Talk of the innovative groundswell disrupting the business of law may feel like it has reached a deafening pitch for private firms and in-house lawyers alike. While the conversation deserves serious merit, one lawyer believes more has to be done to stop lawyers being led down a rabbit hole filled with hollow buzzwords.

Jodie Baker (pictured) is the founder and former managing director of NewLaw firm Hive Legal. In her view, more must be done to empower business leaders to make sense of the different ways that the legal landscape and business of law are changing. Specifically, lawyers need clarity and space to understand how their business fits into the greater scheme of 'disruption'. 

“There’s a lot of noise in the industry around legal technology and innovation. There is so much going on,” Ms Baker said.

“The demands on [lawyers] are so significant that even finding the head space to understand the technologies available to them and then think about which ones are relevant, and get to the point where they pick up the phone and buy a service, is hard,” she said.

Now leading the charge at spin-off legal tech company Xakia (pronounced zah-kee-ah), Ms Baker believes more players in the innovation space should collaborate to help lawyers make sense of the changes taking place.

Xakia’s offering is a dashboard management system for corporate legal teams. Consolidating automation tools and services that drive better efficiencies will help lawyers see the forest rather than the trees when it comes to innovation, Ms Baker suggested.

“There’s so much commentary around needing to do more with less, demonstrate your value, run your legal team like a business, but there’s very few tools that are purpose-built for those clients to do those things.

“The idea is that the platform is a central portal for in-house legal teams to control their matters and their work from one [place], instead of relying on a whole bunch of extranets, which you have in different firms,” Ms Baker said.

Xakia has already attracted a number of existing clients from Hive Legal, where the prototype concept was extensively trialled. Its first product made its soft-launch debut this week. Xakia's new platform offers in-house teams the ability to centralise functions such as the direct briefing of barristers, document automation and other services that draw on artificial intelligence capabilities.

While it be a new entrant to the legal services innovation market, Ms Baker sees Xakia as part of a growing list of emerging start-ups that each began as a simple idea conceived within a law firm. As the group of legal innovation service businesses becomes more established, she said that companies are starting to recognise the value in collaboration and the benefits interfacing with one another can deliver for clients.

“We had a really good sense of where the appetite was but also where the development money needed to go,” Ms Baker said. 

“I don’t necessarily see other legal technology as competition; I see our product more as an interface for all those different technologies. It’s a very small industry and it’s very important to know what other people are doing and to work with it,” she said.

Next month Ms Baker will share her insights as part of an innovation spotlight panel for the inaugural Lawyers Weekly Future Forum. She will speak about the process of incubating innovations in a law firm environment and how they can become independent companies in their own right.

The Lawyers Weekly Future Forum will be a day-long event held in Sydney on Wednesday 9 November, and in Melbourne on Friday 11 November. For more information and to purchase tickets see here.