Innovation Series – Craig Columbus

The following is a part of a series of interviews with legal professionals and their experiences and interaction with innovation and technology in the legal sector. We hope you’ll get value from what others have learnt along the way and their recommendations.

An interview with Craig Columbus, Chief Information Officer, Russell McVeagh


What has been your experience or interaction with legal innovation and technology?

As CIO at Russell McVeagh, it is one of my responsibilities to ensure we invest in technologies that allow us to better serve our clients.

What changes have you seen in your firm, team or organisation recently?

Within the last year, we’ve updated or replaced nearly all of our technology (laptops, servers, networks, applications… the whole stack) with leading edge offerings; the modernization of our technical capability is continual.  We have a standing Innovation Committee and our mandate is to ensure we’re regularly looking at emerging technologies that allow us to better serve our clients.

What challenges or barriers do you face when innovating or looking to use new tech?

There are a few challenges.  Many new technology offerings fail to live up to the hype, so we must thoroughly test offerings before deployment.  Being in New Zealand, it can be hard to gain access to bleeding edge tech, as many start-ups want to focus on major markets first and don’t have either the desire or infrastructure to support a geographically remote client.  Integrating new technology with legacy technology can be challenging and often requires a redesign of work processes.  Finally, it’s imperative to bring people along the journey.  We must ensure that the pace of change is reasonable and that people are able to adapt to new ways of working.

What opportunities do you see with legal innovation?

The technology available today is amazing and is improving daily.  I can foresee a time in the not so distant future when legal professionals spend little time doing tedious work, like document review, and spend most of their time working with clients to create great outcomes.

With greater adoption of tech and more innovation, how do you see your role evolving in the future?

My role will continue to evolve, with a special emphasis on creating greater business value through the selection and application of emerging technologies.

LawFest is focused on innovation and tech in the legal profession, why do you think it’s important for legal professionals to attend an event like LawFest?

LawFest pulls together a fantastic blend of expert technologists and top legal professionals, all with a focus on building the future of law.  LawFest attendees network, share knowledge and learn from one another in ways that would be hard to replicate outside of the event.  If you’re serious about the future of your legal practice, you attend LawFest.

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