Welches Skillset muss der Anwalt/die Anwältin von morgen mitbringen und was können wir von LegalTech Start-Ups lernen? Antworten auf dies Fragen und noch vieles mehr in unserem Interview mit Attila K Csongrady von Allen&Overy. Er hat viel Erfahrung mit Internationalen Transaktionen, praktiziert English Welsh Law und ist qualifizierter Attorney-at-Law in New York.
Mr. Csongrady, working for Allen & Overy your work is embedded in an international law firm — what would you say are the differences in approaching Legal Tech from a European vs. an Anglo-American point of view?
I would say the big dividing line is actually between the US and the rest of the world. I see the key differences lie primarily in the size and depth of the legal markets and in where legaltech sits on the maturity curve in the US compared to the rest of the world, rather than in how legaltech is approached. US clients famously spend nearly three times more on legal services than their counterparts around the world. It is easy so see how this and a legal culture so focused on ‘lawyering up’ drives demand for sophisticated legaltech in the US. This is hugely helped by the start-up culture prevalent in the US, the wider availability of funding and a deeper ecosystem. Other legaltech hubs and “Valleys” of this or that description in Europe and Asia are, however, quickly catching up. London is an increasingly important legaltech hub outside of the US. One of the reasons for this of course is the popularity of English law and its role as the preferred governing law for cross-border commercial transactions. Another driver behind London’s role is that the largest non-US law firms are headquartered there (eight out of the top 30 by global revenue).
Which Legal tech tools and services does A&O offer their clients?
Innovation and legaltech are in A&O’s DNA. To give you a few examples, we were the first to develop a modular drafting solution and to pioneer the development and use of a virtual filing system, both in the early 2000s. We have since set up a Legal Technology Group made up of over 40 dedicated specialists including lawyers, data scientists and innovation experts. We have also set up Fuse, our tech innovation space, that brings together legaltech companies, clients, lawyers and technologists to collaborate to create and develop new solutions. We are targeting a range of key areas and are deploying technology to streamline and in many cases transform current processes for our clients. These include solutions in the areas of contract lifecycle management (e.g. Avvoka), document review and data extraction (e.g. Kira) and team and matter management (e.g. Legatics) – all of which are Fuse cohort products.
How do you develop these tools, how do you choose your projects in the partnership?
We hand pick the applicants for Fuse. For our most recent cohort we received 100 applications. We decide for applicants based on whether we think they are the right fit with A&O. On the selection day we have a panel which is partly made of clients, VC but also of the relevant A&O lawyers who would sponsor that particular product. What is really A&O specific is getting A&O people involved from the outset. We don’t have an innovation team making choices and then spending 6 months trying to sell something they have chosen into the business. Instead, we allow the decision making to be led by the relevant A&O fee earners from the outset.
AI is gaining more and more momentum — where do you see the biggest possibilities regarding these new technologies?
We already deploy a number of different AI-enabled technologies to meet different client needs and scenarios. Document review and analysis, data extraction, trend spotting, monitoring for regulatory change and misconduct prediction I think are some of the most interesting use cases at the moment. As AI engines become more sophisticated and better able to understand language and intent we will see the rise of solutions that will even more dramatically enable lawyers through greater efficiency, transparency and accuracy. This will let us, lawyers, focus increasingly on the ‘big picture’ instead of handling documents and data or playing ‘email ping-pong’.
What kind of skillset does a lawyer today need to bring to the table to shape the future of your firm?
An open mind, agility and, to borrow a term from the start-up world, the ability to pivot into new areas of law and, perhaps most importantly, into radically new ways of giving legal advice.
What insight did A&O gain from working with Start-Ups in your incubator FUSE regarding these future challenges as well as opportunities?
We have learned that it takes a lot to be a good applicant beyond having a good team, a solid product and a thorough understanding of the pain points. It is also important to be easy to work with, to know how to have a good collaborative relationship, to have a good product fit with A&O and a good understanding of the work we do at A&O.
Thank you so much Mr. Csongrady for sharing your knowledge and giving us insight into the global span of Legal Tech and the advances it has made and will be making in the future.