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Reinventing Professionals Podcast

Reinventing Professionals Podcast

Summize
December 29, 2020

Reinventing Professionals Podcast: Supplementing Existing Legal Technology With New Tools

Transcript

Welcome to Reinventing Professionals, a podcast hosted by industry analyst Ari Kaplan, which shares ideas, guidance and perspectives from market leaders shaping the next generation of legal and professional services.

Ari Kaplan:
This is Ari Kaplan and I’m speaking today with Eimear McCann, a former practicing lawyer and the Head of Strategy at Summize, a contract automation platform. Hi Eimear, how are you?

Eimear McCann:
Hi Ari, great to speak to you.

Ari Kaplan:
Oh it’s a privilege to speak with you! So, tell us about your background and your role at Summize.

Eimear McCann:
My background – I’ve always been very much drawn towards creativity and innovation. You know, my mum was an artist and a designer, and I was very lucky to grow up surrounded by books on design and the history of art. So, I was a bit of an accidental lawyer, whenever I think about it. Predictably, career advice at school led me down a more vocational and traditional path and I did study Law with Spanish, so it did allow me to pursue one of my passions. But I did actually start out as a writer after I graduated. But I think I was always really curious about the problem-solving aspect of law, and in the end, I returned to study the LPC and I began my training in London after that. So, I did start out in litigation but moved over to human rights and immigration law, which was ultimately where I felt most at home, just really finding creative solutions to really help people. But I could see that law was changing. There was a really growing momentum around legal tech in the UK, and I felt that it was very much at that intersection of creativity and law, and it just really felt like the right place to be. And I worked with a fantastic legal tech company called Flex – I set up their first hub outside of London before joining Summize last year. So, I’m Head of Strategy at Summize, which is a really multi-faceted role, encompassing business development, looking at client feedback, and obviously our strategy in terms of geography, product design, and client base really.

Ari Kaplan:
What inspired you to move from practice into legal tech?

Eimear McCann:
I think I was just… had reached a point where I personally had felt like I’d had enough I suppose of law, which was a decision that I think I came to after moving. I worked for a law centre essentially back in Ireland and I absolutely loved it because it was very much a creative role. There were strategic cases that we brought before the European courts; I was responsible for training. But there was a real feel that we were making a massive difference and I think that that just aligned very well with the idealism that I had about law and why I ultimately went back to law. But I felt that as I ended up doing more corporate work within immigration, which is obviously really important, but it just really wasn’t for me, and I thought given that law is changing, I wanted to be part of that creative change.

Ari Kaplan:
Speaking of the creative change, so in discussions around the productization of legal services, where does the client fit in to that process?

Eimear McCann:
There’s loads of change happening and we’re seeing this from different angles really. We’ve got legal services that are being packaged up to better suit the needs of clients. But then we’ve got more tangible tools that are being offered by vendors to lawyers, to obviously help better serve their clients, but also to work more efficiently. And when this is done properly, irrespective of the relationship, the client is very much at the heart of the process and if it isn’t done properly, in my view, then the client is totally overlooked, and the product or service isn’t really going to be fit for purpose. I think we’re very much about simplicity, and you know this as well as anyone, legal is a vast industry. And there are so many different sectors, cultures, traditions, and there’s a really rich history and there’s so much scope for change but I think sometimes, people don’t really know where to start. And there is a tendency to veer towards extremes, but I think we really need to start small. So, if we really break it down and we identify a specific problem, find out why is it a problem, what does the end user actually want to achieve, and what are the obstacles to achieving that? And then looking at removing those frictions really and I think all of these very pragmatic questions, once they’re answered, they’re the ones that lead to innovation that may lead to change. But we have to have a product or service which is designed around the client rather than a tool that looks great and sounds very exciting but doesn’t really do very much to assist somebody in their day-to-day workflow. And I think that legal design is still relatively new. I think some people see it as quite conceptual, but I do think there’s a lot of momentum around legal design at the moment and it has an important role to play. I’d love to see more diversity within legal because otherwise you just get lawyers advising and informing other lawyers and then you’re not really going to see, I think, substantial change.

Ari Kaplan:
Given your focus on simplicity and design, how does Summize supplement the technology that legal teams already have?

Eimear McCann:
Going back to that point about identifying a problem, looking at what exists to solve that problem and breaking it down into these smaller chunks, we realised that there are already some really great tools and processes that can just simply be enhanced or expanded by either new ways of working or putting another layer of tech on top of that essentially. I speak to lawyers every day from all over the world really, and they find the world of legal tech overwhelming, and they just really don’t know where to start. There’s obviously a really big education piece there but if we really want to ensure that lawyers are on board with new tools, we really need to examine how they work already. What does their day-today actually look like? What tools do they love and why do they love those tools? I mean, I’m a former lawyer, our founder Tom is a former in-house lawyer– we know that lawyers love working in Microsoft Word. For example, it’s a really good application, we’re all familiar with it and it’s just really easy. So, we created a Word Add-In so that basically our clients don’t need to leave Word, they can redline and edit within Word in real-time. And it’s funny actually because to date it’s been the most popular feature that we’ve rolled out. We are definitely starting to do that within legal – layering tech on top of existing processes and applications, and looking at what exists already and I think definitely in the next couple of years when we start to see more integrations into Microsoft Teams, Slack and other applications, I think that’s when we will see a complete shift in thinking, because at the moment, I suppose legal tech is still quite anew market and therefore deemed to be fragmented. But when you’ve got all these  different applications that essentially will be talking to each other and there is that interoperability that will remove the bulk of decision making and then that will ultimately increase adoption of new tech.

Ari Kaplan:
What are the challenges of making sure that legal tech solutions solve practical problems?

Eimear McCann:
I actually think that’s more problematic than people realise. It’s important to consider who is the end user and also who’s the decision maker because ultimately, these aren’t always necessarily going to be the same person or the same people. It’s different for us as consumers because when we select an app for example, we do so based on our personal preferences, our personal pain points if they exist but if you think about it, when a law firm or a legal team selects a new tech tool, particularly in the larger firms or businesses, the end user may not get much, if any say in the selection. And that selection process is even more important within a sector like legal to make sure that you’ve got feedback –what is a real pain point, what would make chunks of your work easier, not what would just make your job easier? Because that’s a massive question that I’m sure people could write a thesis on that. So, our Founder Tom created Summize out of pure frustration – he was an in-house lawyer, he was a Legal Director, and it was after a particularly arduous contract review that he thought “well, there has to be a better way to do this”. That’s a real trigger - if you’re thinking “there has to be a better way to do this”, it’s interesting to think if there’s a way to automate. And he found that he actually really struggled to find a realistic solution. And when I say a realistic solution, I don’t just mean in terms of functionality, but also in terms of pricing. If you look at in-house legal teams for example, they’ve got their own unique set of issues, whether that is budgetary constraints or otherwise. And within that, every legal team is unique in itself. That’s a really important point, that understanding real-life problems is going to be key to creating a real-life solution. Otherwise, we’ve just got tech for tech’s sake, which doesn’t really resolve anything.

Ari Kaplan:
What geographic regions does Summize serve?

Eimear McCann:
We are UK-based at the minute, but we are already expanding into Australia and Ireland. Ultimately, it’s a tool that can be used in any English-speaking country or jurisdiction. We are also looking at the US. I suppose from an external perspective, you know, us looking at the US from the UK, we had thought well maybe it’s a saturated market and we had to obviously think about our strategy. But, first of all, there’s enough room for all of us – legal is vast. I also hope that we are starting to focus more on knowledge-sharing, building up a global community within the world of legal tech and I know you can see that that’s already happening. But the US is really interesting for us. There’s loads of growth within the alternative legal services space, which is really interesting. There’s just such a strong push towards innovation, and from the feedback that we’ve had to date, a lot of the mid-sized firms and the SME market for example, has been overlooked to a degree in that context. Summize is different in the sense that it’s just really easy to use, easy to implement and it’s differently priced by comparison to other tools. And I get the sense that there is an actual real need for a simpler message within the contract automation landscape. And there’s just a lot of noise out there within legal tech and I think that there’s a need to cut through all of that with a really clear message on a platform that solves real problems.

Ari Kaplan:
How does your pricing structure compare to others in this space?

Eimear McCann:
We keep everything very simple. What we’ve said is that you can use our tool for… it costs less than a cup of coffee per day essentially – which is a really simple way of explaining it! We are living in a very client-centric subscription economy. We don’t have any kind of implementation costs or anything like that. You pay a set fee per month and that’s it. For us it’s really important to be really transparent and to keep it simple.

Ari Kaplan:
Where do you see contract automation headed?

Eimear McCann:
We are going to see a lot of integration. There’ll be probably more consolidation and cohesion in the market as well.

Ari Kaplan:
This is Ari Kaplan speaking with Eimear McCann, a former practicing lawyer the Head of Strategy at Summize, a contract automation platform. Eimear, thanks so very much!

Eimear McCann:
Thanks Ari!

Thank you for listening to the Reinventing Professionals podcast. Visit reinventingprofessionals.com or arikaplanadvisors.com to learn more.

You can keep up to date with all things ‘Summize’ by following us on our social media channels:

LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Reinventing Professionals Podcast

By
Summize
December 29, 2020

Reinventing Professionals Podcast: Supplementing Existing Legal Technology With New Tools

Transcript

Welcome to Reinventing Professionals, a podcast hosted by industry analyst Ari Kaplan, which shares ideas, guidance and perspectives from market leaders shaping the next generation of legal and professional services.

Ari Kaplan:
This is Ari Kaplan and I’m speaking today with Eimear McCann, a former practicing lawyer and the Head of Strategy at Summize, a contract automation platform. Hi Eimear, how are you?

Eimear McCann:
Hi Ari, great to speak to you.

Ari Kaplan:
Oh it’s a privilege to speak with you! So, tell us about your background and your role at Summize.

Eimear McCann:
My background – I’ve always been very much drawn towards creativity and innovation. You know, my mum was an artist and a designer, and I was very lucky to grow up surrounded by books on design and the history of art. So, I was a bit of an accidental lawyer, whenever I think about it. Predictably, career advice at school led me down a more vocational and traditional path and I did study Law with Spanish, so it did allow me to pursue one of my passions. But I did actually start out as a writer after I graduated. But I think I was always really curious about the problem-solving aspect of law, and in the end, I returned to study the LPC and I began my training in London after that. So, I did start out in litigation but moved over to human rights and immigration law, which was ultimately where I felt most at home, just really finding creative solutions to really help people. But I could see that law was changing. There was a really growing momentum around legal tech in the UK, and I felt that it was very much at that intersection of creativity and law, and it just really felt like the right place to be. And I worked with a fantastic legal tech company called Flex – I set up their first hub outside of London before joining Summize last year. So, I’m Head of Strategy at Summize, which is a really multi-faceted role, encompassing business development, looking at client feedback, and obviously our strategy in terms of geography, product design, and client base really.

Ari Kaplan:
What inspired you to move from practice into legal tech?

Eimear McCann:
I think I was just… had reached a point where I personally had felt like I’d had enough I suppose of law, which was a decision that I think I came to after moving. I worked for a law centre essentially back in Ireland and I absolutely loved it because it was very much a creative role. There were strategic cases that we brought before the European courts; I was responsible for training. But there was a real feel that we were making a massive difference and I think that that just aligned very well with the idealism that I had about law and why I ultimately went back to law. But I felt that as I ended up doing more corporate work within immigration, which is obviously really important, but it just really wasn’t for me, and I thought given that law is changing, I wanted to be part of that creative change.

Ari Kaplan:
Speaking of the creative change, so in discussions around the productization of legal services, where does the client fit in to that process?

Eimear McCann:
There’s loads of change happening and we’re seeing this from different angles really. We’ve got legal services that are being packaged up to better suit the needs of clients. But then we’ve got more tangible tools that are being offered by vendors to lawyers, to obviously help better serve their clients, but also to work more efficiently. And when this is done properly, irrespective of the relationship, the client is very much at the heart of the process and if it isn’t done properly, in my view, then the client is totally overlooked, and the product or service isn’t really going to be fit for purpose. I think we’re very much about simplicity, and you know this as well as anyone, legal is a vast industry. And there are so many different sectors, cultures, traditions, and there’s a really rich history and there’s so much scope for change but I think sometimes, people don’t really know where to start. And there is a tendency to veer towards extremes, but I think we really need to start small. So, if we really break it down and we identify a specific problem, find out why is it a problem, what does the end user actually want to achieve, and what are the obstacles to achieving that? And then looking at removing those frictions really and I think all of these very pragmatic questions, once they’re answered, they’re the ones that lead to innovation that may lead to change. But we have to have a product or service which is designed around the client rather than a tool that looks great and sounds very exciting but doesn’t really do very much to assist somebody in their day-to-day workflow. And I think that legal design is still relatively new. I think some people see it as quite conceptual, but I do think there’s a lot of momentum around legal design at the moment and it has an important role to play. I’d love to see more diversity within legal because otherwise you just get lawyers advising and informing other lawyers and then you’re not really going to see, I think, substantial change.

Ari Kaplan:
Given your focus on simplicity and design, how does Summize supplement the technology that legal teams already have?

Eimear McCann:
Going back to that point about identifying a problem, looking at what exists to solve that problem and breaking it down into these smaller chunks, we realised that there are already some really great tools and processes that can just simply be enhanced or expanded by either new ways of working or putting another layer of tech on top of that essentially. I speak to lawyers every day from all over the world really, and they find the world of legal tech overwhelming, and they just really don’t know where to start. There’s obviously a really big education piece there but if we really want to ensure that lawyers are on board with new tools, we really need to examine how they work already. What does their day-today actually look like? What tools do they love and why do they love those tools? I mean, I’m a former lawyer, our founder Tom is a former in-house lawyer– we know that lawyers love working in Microsoft Word. For example, it’s a really good application, we’re all familiar with it and it’s just really easy. So, we created a Word Add-In so that basically our clients don’t need to leave Word, they can redline and edit within Word in real-time. And it’s funny actually because to date it’s been the most popular feature that we’ve rolled out. We are definitely starting to do that within legal – layering tech on top of existing processes and applications, and looking at what exists already and I think definitely in the next couple of years when we start to see more integrations into Microsoft Teams, Slack and other applications, I think that’s when we will see a complete shift in thinking, because at the moment, I suppose legal tech is still quite anew market and therefore deemed to be fragmented. But when you’ve got all these  different applications that essentially will be talking to each other and there is that interoperability that will remove the bulk of decision making and then that will ultimately increase adoption of new tech.

Ari Kaplan:
What are the challenges of making sure that legal tech solutions solve practical problems?

Eimear McCann:
I actually think that’s more problematic than people realise. It’s important to consider who is the end user and also who’s the decision maker because ultimately, these aren’t always necessarily going to be the same person or the same people. It’s different for us as consumers because when we select an app for example, we do so based on our personal preferences, our personal pain points if they exist but if you think about it, when a law firm or a legal team selects a new tech tool, particularly in the larger firms or businesses, the end user may not get much, if any say in the selection. And that selection process is even more important within a sector like legal to make sure that you’ve got feedback –what is a real pain point, what would make chunks of your work easier, not what would just make your job easier? Because that’s a massive question that I’m sure people could write a thesis on that. So, our Founder Tom created Summize out of pure frustration – he was an in-house lawyer, he was a Legal Director, and it was after a particularly arduous contract review that he thought “well, there has to be a better way to do this”. That’s a real trigger - if you’re thinking “there has to be a better way to do this”, it’s interesting to think if there’s a way to automate. And he found that he actually really struggled to find a realistic solution. And when I say a realistic solution, I don’t just mean in terms of functionality, but also in terms of pricing. If you look at in-house legal teams for example, they’ve got their own unique set of issues, whether that is budgetary constraints or otherwise. And within that, every legal team is unique in itself. That’s a really important point, that understanding real-life problems is going to be key to creating a real-life solution. Otherwise, we’ve just got tech for tech’s sake, which doesn’t really resolve anything.

Ari Kaplan:
What geographic regions does Summize serve?

Eimear McCann:
We are UK-based at the minute, but we are already expanding into Australia and Ireland. Ultimately, it’s a tool that can be used in any English-speaking country or jurisdiction. We are also looking at the US. I suppose from an external perspective, you know, us looking at the US from the UK, we had thought well maybe it’s a saturated market and we had to obviously think about our strategy. But, first of all, there’s enough room for all of us – legal is vast. I also hope that we are starting to focus more on knowledge-sharing, building up a global community within the world of legal tech and I know you can see that that’s already happening. But the US is really interesting for us. There’s loads of growth within the alternative legal services space, which is really interesting. There’s just such a strong push towards innovation, and from the feedback that we’ve had to date, a lot of the mid-sized firms and the SME market for example, has been overlooked to a degree in that context. Summize is different in the sense that it’s just really easy to use, easy to implement and it’s differently priced by comparison to other tools. And I get the sense that there is an actual real need for a simpler message within the contract automation landscape. And there’s just a lot of noise out there within legal tech and I think that there’s a need to cut through all of that with a really clear message on a platform that solves real problems.

Ari Kaplan:
How does your pricing structure compare to others in this space?

Eimear McCann:
We keep everything very simple. What we’ve said is that you can use our tool for… it costs less than a cup of coffee per day essentially – which is a really simple way of explaining it! We are living in a very client-centric subscription economy. We don’t have any kind of implementation costs or anything like that. You pay a set fee per month and that’s it. For us it’s really important to be really transparent and to keep it simple.

Ari Kaplan:
Where do you see contract automation headed?

Eimear McCann:
We are going to see a lot of integration. There’ll be probably more consolidation and cohesion in the market as well.

Ari Kaplan:
This is Ari Kaplan speaking with Eimear McCann, a former practicing lawyer the Head of Strategy at Summize, a contract automation platform. Eimear, thanks so very much!

Eimear McCann:
Thanks Ari!

Thank you for listening to the Reinventing Professionals podcast. Visit reinventingprofessionals.com or arikaplanadvisors.com to learn more.

You can keep up to date with all things ‘Summize’ by following us on our social media channels:

LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

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