Legal Innovation and Tech Fest 2021

Final day of the Legal Innovation and Tech Fest 2021, something for everybody today, including a live snake demo.

Isabel Parker Executive Director, The Digital Legal Exchange
The Customer is Always Right: Why Clients Should Shape Your Digital Transformation Strategy

Focus on your clients, not revenue.

Learn from their responses and when communicating with them through the matter, make sure there is an active two way communication.

Don’t assume you know what the customer wants, ask them.

Get your regular clients into a room and ask them what they expect from your firm, and where they think you could improve and change the way you work with them.

Systems and strategy
These days there are so many systems to choose from it creates a panic, don’t just choose a system and hope it will turn out ok.

Does your investment in the system support your business strategy?

Is there a convergence of systems, can the new system integrate with existing systems – can the new system help other parts in the firm?

Digital transformation is an ongoing commitment, continually evolving, improving and adapting.
Make very sure you have the commitment from management.

Hire, develop and keep the right people in the team.

Create a culture in your firm, that illustrates to the market, that your firm embraces and thrives of innovation – not only for clients, but future hires. Nobody want to work for a firm that is stuck in the dark ages.

Chris Martinus Systems Development Manager, Bowmans Law
Building a LawyerBot – Is it Easy? Is it Useful?

The live snake demo I told you about….

Chris very boldly did a live demo, of creating a chatbot….FROM SCRATCH, in a live presentation and it WORKED. Kudos Chris.

He used Python as a development platform, which is a very popular platform and very good for data science.

A lot of use of If…Then…Else statements called nesting.

Good examples of chatbots working in South Africa are Discovery Health and Vodacom.

In simple terms a chatbot is a dialogue between a human and a computer.

Human to human conversation is sequential and has open ended flow.

A true lawyer chatbot would be more like human to human conversations (sequential), have lots of variations and a very complicated chatbot. But with time these very complex tasks will become easier with tools that are already “wrapped” and ready to be plugged into systems to handle certain bot tasks.

Neural Networks and Machine Learning
These are self-learning bots, they learn based on the output.

He then did the Python demo from scratch.

Chatbots in the legal profession
They will never replace lawyers
• Too many grey areas
• Various interpretations
• Nuances.

But they can be used in law firms to add value for:
• Repetitive tasks
• Processes
• Information recall.

Charlene Vorster Product Manager: Legal, Sabinet
When you Can’t Change the Direction of the Wind, Adjust your Sales

“I wish it wasn’t called artificial intelligence, augmented intelligence that is going to propel the world forward. We have to prepare because everyone’s job will change and how it’s done,” – Ginni Rometty – IBM

We have had to adjust to the new normal – Zoom, Teams, virtual everything, instead of the face2face of the past.

Systems need to adjust to the new social and technology needs:

  • Available on any device
  • Simple and easy to use systems
  • Address globalization
  • Customisable user consoles
  • Cloud based
    • Reliable
    • Always available
  • Access Large Data
  • Must be agile.

Sabinet have listened and created a new system that encompasses the above and combines their previous two systems into a single solution to their customers. It searches 250 000 records in a single search.

The legal records produced in book format are quickly coming to an end.

Transforming Modern African Law Firms Through Embracing the Potential of Legal Technology
James Leach – Chief Learning Officer, Africa Legal
Kevin Van Tonder – Director, Corporate and Commercial, Cognia Law
Warren Hero – CIO Webber Wentzel

WH – Make use of generic systems where possible, it makes for easy collaboration with partners and clients.

KvT – Implement systems that everyone can use with ease, both internally and with collaboration.

When planning firm innovation projects, look first at the people for input, then look at the process and lastly look to find technology that will fit in with both.

Try to get the processes happening without the technology if you can, so you can perfect the process before implementing the tech, otherwise you end up developing a system based on a process that did not work in the first place.

If possible, look at systems that integrate with the existing systems, as the users are used to those systems – for example, Outlook and Word.

Engage with all stakeholders, IT, users, execs and your clients.

WH – Inge Thulin, President and CEO of 3M, projected that 40 percent of 3M’s revenue in 2017 would come from products that did not exist five years ago.

Innovation must be adopted in all firms, and large firms must have an innovation team. Innovation should never stop.

When in brainstorming or punting the project type meeting, make sure people get out of the emotional state and into the educational state of mind.

Leave the egos at the door!

JL – No system can be bought off the shelf and dropped into the firm’s network, without being adapted to work properly in every firm, for both the business and for the clients.

Wellness & Wellbeing in the Legal Profession – Panel Discussion
Pavel Matthews – Corporate & Investment Banking, Absa
Thomas Pearson Chief Commercial Officer, Africa Legal
Frieda Levycky – Founder & Director, Braving Boundaries & Levycky Consulting | Coaching Advocates
Lynette Etemesi – Regional Leader: Africa, The Stability Network
Gregory Nott – Director & Head of Africa Practice, Norton Rose Fulbright
Lynn Roux – Head of HR, Norton Rose SA

One liners on mental health:

LE – No health without mental health
PM – Health is wealth
FL – Be productive
LR – Whole people come to work, and whole people must go home.

TP – IBA report says that African attorneys are at the top of the scale when it comes to being overly stressed – compared to the rest of the world. Rather alarming!

LE – one in four ¼ of attorneys have mental health issues and a large percentage of attorneys turn to substance abuse to handle this stress.

PM – Pick your stresses – like choose your battles. Every $1 spent on addressing mental health in a firm returns $2 to $4. So invest in the mental health of your staff.

TP – Audit your own mental health and choose what you take on, take control of your own wellbeing.

FL – Communication is key to removing stress. We all see the world in different ways, accept that everyone has their own opinion and respect them for that.

GN – It’s OK to not be OK – lawyers need to break the mindset that they have to put on a brave face and pretend everything is fine.

LR – Build an environment where it is OK to not be OK. A safe environment to speak to superiors about your mental state.

A wrap on the Legal Innovation and Tech Fest 2021.

Innovation is not a start stop project, see it as ever evolving and improving in your firm.
Get out of the engine room for a short breather and have a look at your processes, small iterations of change will have a large impact on your business.
Clients pay your salaries, speak to them, embrace their whining complaints, and work out how to make them happy.
Innovation does not have to be implementing new tech, it can be a change in the manual process – step back analyse and improve.

Thanks to the organisers Eventful People, see you next year.


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