LawFest organiser Andrew King continues a series of interviews with key legal professionals with their innovation and technology stories.
Tell us about yourself?
I am Murali Baddula, Innovation Lead at Law In Order.
I have worked for more than 20 years in litigation support services and now head up Law In Order’s Innovation Labs with a group of our internal consulting and development experts who are enthusiastic and think outside the box about innovation. In this role, I collaborate with our inhouse teams and external clients to design and implement workflows and new tools to achieve winning outcomes.
Prior to this role, I worked as Vice President of eDiscovery and Head of eDiscovery at Law In Order, assisting legal departments by offering technical solutions and workflows.
With more than two decades of experience in litigation support, eDiscovery, consulting, project management, forensic investigations and software development, I understand the complexities of unstructured data and can offer solutions to make electronically stored information available for search, retrieval and review in a legally defensible manner.
Before joining Law In Order, I worked as Head of Analytics in one of Australia’s leading legal technology firms. I have seen the industry change drastically in the past 10 years and it is changing more than ever in the current market. I have experienced most of the pain points the industry has gone through in the early stages and now in my current role, I am focused on resolving these issues.
What challenges are organisations facing in how they deliver legal services?
In my view, most firms globally are facing various challenges. It can be competition from firms investing more into innovation, behavioural dilemmas with staff, the complexities of delivering fixed pricing models, the question of how to be more efficient using the highest quality product, automating day-to-day workflows and reducing human resources for manual work.
Virtual and Cloud based law firm models are emerging faster than ever, introducing increased competition across jurisdictions, and it is a big challenge to keep up with these new models. There is huge demand to focus on key things and leave the rest to low-cost resourcing structures. Apart from these conundrums, keeping good and experienced talent within the firm is the main and most significant problem for all firms across the globe.
How have you adapted how you work?
The only inevitable thing is change; new competitors enter the global market, the economy fluctuates and our own environment is always shifting. We need to re-innovate ourselves again and again to stay on top of the game as well as keep the job fun for others and the outcome efficient for clients.
I have been working from home for close to two years now and everything became more virtual and more productive in my view. Most of my duties include working with every part of the business as well as our clients and meetings became easier with advanced video conferences, particularly with our international clients. The COVID-19 situation worked in my favour as other businesses adapted to the changes and called on my expertise to help drive the transformation.
In terms of our service lines, our digital forensics experts can perform data collection working remotely across jurisdictions in many circumstances. They are experienced with the issues related to data protection laws in various locations. Our Managed Document Review team provides legal teams around the world with scalable support, 24/7, all year round. They utilise legal support professionals in India and a Project Management team in Australia. During COVID-19, the eHearings team was rolling out virtual hearing rooms across the globe to support legal firms and arbitration centres.
With this significant international scope and experience, we have worked on matters across Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Europe, UK, the Americas and Africa.
Is there anything you would do differently if you were starting over?
I wish I had the opportunity to be in this innovation space much earlier. Committing to innovation is brave and my leadership could have helped inspire others in the team. I definitely would have eliminated things I had done earlier in my career like worrying about my initial ideas being diluted. Those failures could have become the foundation for new concepts on how to do the ‘same old things’ better.
Are there any opportunities that you have found in how you have changed how you work out of the chaos of COVID-19?
We saw significant opportunities internationally as part of the COVID-19 period. As previously mentioned, Law In Order’s Virtual Hearings took off, taking full advantage of the sudden new demand in the market and having to increase capacity.
I upskilled myself and so have most of the company. I can now use those skills to our clients’ advantage and to benefit Law In Order.
In my experience, lawyers embrace self-sufficiency, keeping on top of the technology and going towards advanced digital solutions. Rather than focusing on trying to sell our services, we used the time to start working closely with our internal and external clients on their needs including triple checking our processes.
Our goal has been to provide an end-to-end solution which is available globally including privacy, compliances, forensics, breach management and eDiscovery to help control cost and manage risk. More importantly, it means clients don’t have to manage multiple suppliers, perhaps in different jurisdictions.
How can legal tech help you innovate?
AI is big part of Law In Order’s offerings and we build solutions by working closely with our clients. Innovation has become a bit of a buzzword in legal circles and research suggests there is very real investment. Working in the legal tech space myself for over 20 years, I have seen a lot of solutions that deploy great technology but are not fully adapted to the legal work they are meant to support. In response, we developed our own tools and workflows to deliver better value, outcomes and services for clients.
The benefits of legal tech to Law In Order are the ability to include greater automation, improved security, fewer risks, more transparency, better resource management, an up to date level of customer experience and, of course, an edge over competitors in the market.
What are some of your practical tips to start innovating or developing an innovative mindset?
Innovation can be challenging. The philosophy I follow includes being comfortable with being uncomfortable, getting your hands dirty and being curious. There is no need to be tied to the technical side of things. Collaborate with people, bring persistence and embrace failure as it will be part of the innovation journey.
Also, I believe that innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. Even the smallest thing can add value and create innovation for the company. I work closely with young lawyers and listen to how they are working. They have many ideas and talents, and the future of legal tech is in their hands.
What changes do you see in how legal services are delivered in the future?
The way that legal services are delivered is changing quickly due to advances in technology and business model innovation. Taking steps now to understand the landscape and think creatively about legal service delivery is vital.
We are now seeing a gradual shift towards affordable, standardised services and efficiencies in how law firms and service providers deliver services. We have seen new types of AI emerge to help address the pain points for lawyers within legal processes.
While many of the newer AI products are still in their early stages, there is potential for AI to help lawyers deliver more efficient and timely services to clients in the future. Rapid developments in AI over the coming years will lead the next stage of transformation within legal service delivery.
Why is it important for legal professionals to continue to learn about legal innovation and leveraging technology?
I believe all players in the legal profession need to re-innovate again and again. If we don’t, we will be left behind.
Technology facilitates and takes care of data accuracy and matter management so that lawyers can focus on advisory and leave their admin, low-cost review and document management to third parties. Our objective is to support this by continually improving our legal tech and working closely with our clients.
Andrew King is the founder of Legal Innovate (https://legalinnovate.nz/). He helps lawyers and organisations successfully innovate through leveraging technology to help improve the way they deliver legal services Legal Innovate includes LawFest (https://www.lawfest.nz/), LegalTech Hub (https://legaltech.nz/) and E-Discovery Consulting (https://www.e-discovery.co.nz/).