The legal industry is notoriously slow in embracing new forms of technology. The industry’s collective insistence on tradition is arguably a facade for a fear of change. More specifically, it is an irrational fear of technology replacing lawyers and judges.
Algo Legal is a progressive team of lawyers and innovators in mind and in practice, who are illustrating the real benefits of using technology in law. They show how technology, in its many forms, can be used to improve efficiency, accuracy and productivity in a law firm – how technology can be an aid rather than a replacement. Such gains are and will be transformative; lawyers will be trained to develop their soft skills rather than manual and repetitive work, thereby increasing the value of legal work.
As Algo Legal spearheads this change, it is undoubtedly a firm to look out for.
About Algo Legal
Algo Legal is a Bangalore-based law firm founded by Mr. Sandeep Kapoor in August 2019. Despite being a new firm, Algo Legal has already been successful in advising on some of the region’s recent major deals. Most notably, they advised Sequoia Capital in their investments in Cardheko’s series D funding totalling $70m and Pristyn Care’s series B funding totalling $12m in December 2019.
Sandeep’s vision was to use technology to simplify solutions for complicated legal problems. This required technology to be a key part of the firm’s daily operations, rather than a single-use or occasional option for lawyers.
I had the opportunity to interview Ms Rasmeet Charya, Chief Innovation Officer at Algo Legal. Rasmeet gave greater insight into how the firm’s technology-driven solutions have differentiated it from the rest of the legal industry in India.
Rasmeet highlighted that the varied and somewhat unusual background of the firm’s founding members is what initially influenced Algo Legal’s vision..Sandeep founded the firm as former Sequoia India General Counsel with over 20 years of experience in venture capital. After working with some of the biggest and most well-established law firms, he experienced first-hand how traditional legal processes in the industry fall short from a client’s perspective.
Somewhat differently, Mr Dhruv Nagarkatti, the Chief Operating Officer, comes from a non-legal background. He was part of the Investment Banking division of HSBC, London, before he transitioned into a career in professional tennis coaching and sports management.
This was followed by bringing in the legal innovation team to lay the foundation of legal innovation and tech. Rasmeet, the firm’s Chief Innovation Officer continues to head the department with assistance from Trupteeranjan Padhi (Legal Process and Design Manager).
This mixture of legal and non-legal backgrounds has enabled Algo Legal to develop a strong team of professionals who share the common vision of tech-driven legal solutions in their daily operations. For them, this means using technology to maximise the value of legal services. In terms of Algo Legal’s internal processes, technology improves efficiency and productivity. In the client’s perspective, it brings them a better experience working with the firm.
Process matters more than technology
Algo Legal has been successful in making their vision a reality, mainly because the firm understands their practice inside out. Knowing their practice and their processes allows them to integrate and apply different tech tools in productive ways. In the interview, Charya said ‘ Lawyers should know the process behind their work. Once you know the process, you can use any technology’.
Algo Legal’s first step into doing so was by building a tech architecture that, roughly speaking, has three parts:
This looks at what processes and tasks ensure that client onboarding is achieved smoothly. Algo Legal uses, among other things, a unique virtual data room set-up and management, which simplifies client interaction and communication with their lawyers.
This involves project management, timesheets and data compliance. Algo Legal has adopted software automating corporate secretarial support and transaction management, which supports the firm’s compliance, fiduciary and regulatory obligations. This helps to reduce human error and delays without compromising the firm’s own legal duties.
This includes legal teams and lawyers developing systems of compliance management, practice management, contract management and transaction management. Algo Legal has software aiding: document management; deal management; due diligence management; regulatory compliance mapping; statutory management; legal and regulatory notice and incident management; and contract automation. These areas of innovation all ensure that the firm’s lawyers can produce work accurately and efficiently.
By breaking down the process of legal work, the firm has ensured that their technology is not a mere enabler for its lawyers, but instead a driver for efficiency.
It remains to be seen exactly how Algo Legal will continue to adopt technologies to enhance its internal and external experiences. Something that will be key to ensuring institutionalised change, though, is Algo Legal’s collective mindset and culture.
Rasmeet said that the legal innovation team at Algo Legal employs systematic change management to shape the organisation’s mindset to ensure long-term behaviour change. In doing so, they support the rest of Algo Legal, most importantly the practitioners, to become familiar with newer forms of technology. In future, the success of Algo Legal will hinge on this mindset. As Rasmeet noted, “innovation is not about technology. It’s about change.”