María Jesús González-Espejo runs the Instituto de Innovación Legal, from where she helps in-house counsel, law firms, and other organisations in the legal sector to better understand the trends that are transforming their day-to-day work; to implement innovation and digital transformation processes, including the purchase and implementation of LegalTech, a subject in which she has been recognised, by the International Legal Technology Association, as one of the best experts in the world. She masters the Legal Design Thinking methodology is a certified DYL coach with almost 30 years of experience, some of which have been dedicated to corporate law, large law firms, and law firm management. She is one of the preferred consultants for law firms wishing to successfully embrace the 4.0 revolution.
As an expert in digital contexts and LegalTech tools, what do you think is Spain’s position in the European context?
Spain has played a relevant role in the LegalTech ecosystem from the beginning. Several professionals from our country have stood out for their academic contributions: with books, articles, conferences, and very interesting courses. In addition, there are relevant LegalTech solutions that have also been developed in our country.
Support for innovation, digital transformation, and LegalTech is already a priority on the agendas of all relevant organisations in our country, such as professional associations of lawyers, solicitors, social graduates, law firms, CGPJ, CGAE, Registrars, Notaries, Etc.
Publishers specialising in the legal sector have also included innovation and LegalTech in their strategies and organise events, publish very interesting works such as the latest from Thomson Reuters, “The governance of the legal function in organisations“, a compilation of the vision of experts on how the legal departments of companies should be managed to be truly innovative, or Wolters Kluwer: “LegalTech, the digital transformation of the legal profession” or this other work which is very useful to understand the very interesting field of Artificial Intelligence.
The role that Spain must play in Europe has to do with its capacity to serve as a bridge between Europe and Latin America. In fact, many Latin American organisations and professionals look to Spain for references, know-how, and LegalTech solutions to use in their countries. The similarities in culture and legal systems explain this reality.
In your opinion, which ten categories of LegalTech tools have been a “revolution” for the Legal sector and why?
Before talking about the LegalTech that has brought about a revolution, I think it is important to clarify what LegalTech is, as there is still no consensus on the meaning of this term. For me, LegalTech is a software solution that supports the work of legal professionals (lawyer, judge, notary, registrar, etc.) and helps them to be more efficient or even replace them. This work includes advice, the drafting of legal texts (appeals, submissions to administrations, etc.), the management of procedures before administrations, or the management of the organisation itself (sales, financial, marketing, cybersecurity, or data protection).
Having clarified the concept of LegalTech, in my opinion, the categories of solutions that have revolutionised the sector to a greater extent are those that allow different types of legal services to be offered online, facilitating data collection, appointments with professionals, access to basic information, templates, work environments that allow negotiations to be carried out, information storage or communications, etc. This category includes, for example, in the field of business law, two LegalTech tools that have transformed corporate secretarial work and have experienced enormous growth in the last two years, such as Afiens Collaborate and Councilbox.
Secondly, there are those that facilitate the automation of contracts and documents, among which I would highlight the Spanish companies Docxpresso, Bigle Legal, Bounsel, and foreign companies such as JuridDoc, Legito and ContractMill, to name but a few of the most successful.
Thirdly, the so-called expert systems that are being used above all by public administrations, such as city councils, to respond to citizens or support civil servants in their decision-making. Chatbots, or voice or text-based virtual assistants, have also transformed the sector. Through them, any organisation can provide information to its customers, guaranteeing consistency in responses, legal certainty and favouring significant cost savings.
Fourthly, we would mention solutions that are practical tools such as those that allow voice dictation, such as Google Docs Voice Typing; the digital signature of documents such as Logalty, Validated ID, Color Iuris or Signaturit or the certified sending of sms or e-mails, such as Lleida Net or Evicertia and, of course, the numerous and now so commonly used video conferencing solutions.
The marketing of law firms and professionals has also undergone a real revolution through platforms or marketplaces, such as UNAES, tuppabogado, elabogado, lexdir or lexgoapp.
Another revolution in the procedural field is being brought about by probabilistic judicial solutions such as Jurimetría, Tyrant Analytics or Vlex Analytics.
From your experience, in an average “typical” law firm, with a part of its leading team may be more reluctant to this type of change due to generation or culture, what should be the process for the implementation of a LegalTech tool, such as a CRM?
The first change that must precede the implementation of any technology is a cultural one. It is very common for lawyers to consider their clients as an asset of “their property” and not of the firm. This type of individualistic client management makes it difficult to design a unified client relationship management strategy, which is what a CRM is for. In order to take advantage of a CRM, it is, therefore, necessary to promote culture without silos, a culture of data sharing.
A CRM does not work if there is not a single, clear strategy for attracting and retaining customers, accompanied by policies for institutional relations, sales, marketing, follow-up, etc. CRM should be the pillar on which this strategy and policies are based.
When we at the Institute de Innovación Legal support a law firm to develop business, the implementation of CRM is a fundamental pillar and to carry it out we work on three axes: people (the real protagonists of client relations), platforms (we look for the most suitable software solutions for each case, as there is a wide range on offer and it is necessary to find those that meet the criteria of best usability, legality and efficiency for each office) and processes (we identify the workflows of key processes such as client onboarding, sales, billing and collection, communication, GDPR management, application of money laundering regulations or identification of conflicts of interest, etc. and we analyse them to propose the most suitable solutions for each case, as the offer is broad and it is necessary to find those that respond to the criteria of best usability, legality and most efficiency for each office). etc. and we also analyse them in order to propose improvements and identify the most suitable CRM solution for each organisation).
María Jesús González-Espejo is CEO at Instituto de Innovación Legal and president at the Innovation in Law Studies Alliance (ILSA)