Innovation and law firm digital transformation in Europe
Ari Kaplan. Photo by Lauren Hillary.
Ari Kaplan recently spoke with Freddie Hustler, the head of international sales at Litera, a software company that provides document lifecycle, deal management and firm intelligence solutions to the legal profession.
Ari Kaplan: Tell us about your background and your role at Litera.
Freddie Hustler: I joined Litera in September 2021 through the acquisition of Concep, a marketing automation platform focused on content automation, event management integration and internal communication. It allows law firms to leverage their intelligence for more advanced marketing applications. I serve as Litera’s head of international sales, and I am responsible for all of its drafting, intelligence and workflow products.
Ari Kaplan: Litera recently co-sponsored the keynote I delivered at the Legal Management Forum in Madrid. What is driving the focus on innovation and law firm transformation in Europe?
Freddie Hustler: We see the European innovation journey in three core phases. Phase one was viewing technology as a back-office function that was part of the organization’s IT infrastructure and from which lawyers did not realize direct value. Phase two treated legal tech as more of a point solution addressing a specific problem, but that innovation did not always solve a unique business problem. Phase three brings those points solutions together and makes them work efficiently between each other, resulting in a cohesive ecosystem of tools. At Litera, we understand the challenge of addressing all of a law firm’s needs in a single platform. Ultimately, a suite of products that creates connectivity between platforms is the future of legal and will bring more effectiveness, efficiency and accuracy to firms in Europe and around the world.
Ari Kaplan: What are some of the common challenges that law firms in the U.S. and in the EU share?
Freddie Hustler: There are two core challenges that law firms in the U.S. and in the EU share: efficiency and collaboration. The goal is to empower individuals to become more effective in their jobs and talent retention is a critical objective today. We create technology that enables firms to retain talent, drive job satisfaction, create efficiency and fuel collaboration between departments, which ultimately results in growth and higher levels of satisfaction in those firms. At Litera, we look to develop products that help our users overcome significant challenges, such as for reviewing due diligence for an M&A transaction timely and efficiently. We have evaluated manual review to determine ways to make it quicker whilst also enabling the user to assess 100% of the necessary documents. Kira, for example, is a machine-learning-based document-review platform that brings machines and humans together to complete the due-diligence process in a fraction of the time, giving our clients greater coverage, effectiveness and accuracy. We also look at how firms access their data to overcome data silos owned by different individuals and create connectivity, so that they effectively leverage actionable data. Our firm intelligence platform, Foundation Software, brings all of that information together to provide easy search engine access that enables collaboration.
Ari Kaplan: How are global law firms aligning the way their teams around the world, leverage technology uniformly?
Freddie Hustler: It has been a common experience that law firms with global locations have struggled to collaborate due to access to and awareness of people, so they are implementing central data initiatives that offer a single, unified view of their information. Whilst it doesn’t resolve the access challenges in all instances, it sits in one place, and bringing it together enables greater collaboration because now professionals in a large law firm can immediately understand what experience exists in any part of the world.
Ari Kaplan: What is the connection between fueling collaboration and driving change?
Freddie Hustler: We view the implementation of technology and the adaptability of the people using it as complementary. It is easy for the market to see technology as a solution for everything, but if a firm does not promote the corresponding behavioral drive that results in the right process to utilize a new technology application, there will be no change. Instead, you will see increased challenges associated with the technology you are using. Firms that have been most successful in managing change ensure that people and tech receive equal investment because that combination drives adoption and awareness.
Ari Kaplan: How do you see culture impacting the way legal teams approach innovation around the world?
Freddie Hustler: Litera has grown through the acquisition of point solutions in the market. Culture typically is impacted by the pace and priority of product adoption. In the U.K., we adopted the role of knowledge management early on, so practicing lawyers were able to tap into the talent of nonpracticing knowledge lawyers to help them access the right information when they need it and create more efficiency in their work. U.S. firms now see the value of having knowledge management as a specific role and recognize that technology can solve significant problems. In fact, products are being adopted in certain jurisdictions and in various parts of the world faster because they are already convinced of the value of technology. In Europe, we are probably still in our infancy of looking at how experience management technologies, AI or machine learning can help drive change within our firms, but differences in maturity and experience generally remain a barrier to overall adoption.
Ari Kaplan: How is digital transformation evolving in the European legal community?
Freddie Hustler: I see an increased awareness of digital transformation in Europe, but the challenges for many firms are nuanced and unique. They also adopt technology in order to address an array of needs. There is a huge difference in how U.S. law firms operate from those in other regions. In the U.K., for instance, I see a distinction in how law firms think about adopting technology. As vendors, we play a role in raising awareness of what technology can do and creating more of a partnership on the journey with technology. Firms need to view digitization as a long-term investment in change, including the promotion of new behaviors and perceptions associated with innovative applications.
Editor’s Note: Litera and BriefCatch, a legal editing software tool, co-sponsored a keynote presentation that Ari Kaplan delivered at the Legal Management Forum in Madrid on Oct. 19.
Listen to the complete interview at Reinventing Professionals.
Ari Kaplan regularly interviews leaders in the legal industry and in the broader professional services community to share perspective, highlight transformative change and introduce new technology at his blog and on iTunes.
This column reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Association.