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 Larissa Vaughan, Head of Legal Wealth and Digital Legal Lead, Kiwibank and Kiwi Wealth
What has been your experience or interaction with legal innovation and technology?
I’ve been working with our business teams to develop new financial services products and platforms. Many of our teams use agile work practices which challenges the way we’ve traditionally practiced law. I have also been involved with the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator Programme, which takes agile to a new level and ups the challenge for lawyers.
What changes have you seen in your firm, team or organisation recently?
I think innovation is about more than pure technology, it’s also about adaptive ways of working. We’ve had to change the way we practice law to keep up with our the needs of our (internal) clients. Agile teams means we’re going to stand ups, monitoring beta tests and delivering advice via customer journey maps. We’ve had to get familiar with work management tools like Trello and Kanban boards, and switched email for Slack.
What challenges or barriers do you face when innovating or looking to use new tech?
It can be hard to know what’s out there, without getting inundated with sales pitches. In particular it can be difficult to understand what will work in a NZ environment and which technology can best add value and fit with your particular business. It’s also easy to get bogged down in the day to day and default to the usual way of doing things. Sometimes you need a nudge (or even a well-executed push) to re-evaluate how you work.
What opportunities do you see with legal innovation?
The right innovation gives lawyers the chance to work more closely with their business and be part of the overall delivery. It also offers opportunities to automate repetitive work and focus on the more strategic value add work. For example I’d much rather focus on crafting court submissions than spend hours trawling through documents in discovery.
With greater adoption of tech and more innovation, how do you see your role evolving in the future?
The concept of being a T-shaped lawyer really makes sense and appeals to me (a term first used in 1991 which has gained popularity recently see: https://www.americanbar.org/publications/law_practice_magazine/2014/july-august/the-21st-century-t-shaped-lawyer.html. That is having depth and expertise specialist legal knowledge and also general breadth in legal and non legal skills (such as tech know how) so you can work more collaboratively and holistically. It can be challenging to leave the comfort zone of pure law, but very rewarding.
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?
It’s good to get out of the office and see what else is out there – new technology, new approaches to lawyering and new connections. It’s great to have that plated up in a legally focused way that’s relevant for a NZ audience.