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The Wired Wig Podcast: Smooth Integrations and Creative Lawyers

The Wired Wig Podcast: Smooth Integrations and Creative Lawyers

Summize
February 2, 2021

Transcript

Tom Dunlop:

... and I think what's missed a lot of the time is ... and obviously, lawyers are perceived as this rigid, academic, maybe a little dry in terms of their personality, but if lawyers can channel that creativity that they use when they're applying the law, but be more around process, around how they can be more visible. One of them that I used to do is, how can I get away from the narrative of, "I'm Tom from legal"? Because if you asked anyone in the business, my personal brand was Tom from legal.

Annabel Pemberton:

Welcome to The Wired Wig, demystifying tech law trends and educating about law in tomorrow's society. Hello, my name is Annabel Pemberton and welcome back to The Wired Wig. Today, I'm joined by Tom Dunlop, who is the CEO and founder of legal technology tool Summize. Summize is a contract management and review product, and today we're going to be talking a bit more about the use cases and its USP.

Tom, after qualifying as a solicitor in the UK, has led several legal teams including UserZoom, Zuto and AppSense. So, Tom, welcome to The Wired Wig.

Tom Dunlop:

Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Annabel Pemberton:

It's a pleasure. So why don't we first start off with, what attracted you to legal technology and how did you get into the law and technology space?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah. I mean, I guess I had quite a unique combination of working as a general counsel, but within generally fast-growth technology or software businesses. So I could see firsthand, I guess, the impact of good software in the workplace and when it was rolled out successfully. And I felt there was probably a distinct lack, I guess, of relevant technology in the legal sector, certainly helping my day-to-day.

And so I also had access to developers, and I could bounce ideas off developers that worked in the business. So I think, yeah, it was definitely my first, I guess, foray into legal technology was the combination of my day-to-day job as a lawyer, as a GC, but combining that with actually working within and around the entrepreneurs of fast-growth software businesses in other sectors, which was, yeah, I guess what led to where I am today.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes, absolutely. I suppose the opportunity to work multidisciplinary and work across different teams who'd come from different backgrounds and other entrepreneurs was really fascinating. So what would you say was the main problem that you're trying to solve at Summize, and how did you come across this problem to really think, "Okay, we need to create a tool to solve it"?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah. I mean, I guess in my role as GC, there's a few different areas. So contract is obviously the core of what Summize is involved with, and I was responsible for day-to-day management of contracts. I went through numerous funding rounds as well as two exits. So I had that to deal with in terms of the project reviews. I also obviously went through the change in regulations, so GDPR was quite a huge piece of regulations to roll out across different businesses. So the combination of all those different use cases.

And what I kind of did was, I guess, looked at what tools are out there, what products are out there, how could I do them more effectively? Because ultimately I was literally opening a PDF, reading through line by line, creating a spreadsheet of key terms in the project-based work, and then day-to-day would be the same thing. I'm working within Microsoft Word. I'm doing markups, reading every line. It's just a huge manual process.

I guess dealing with all those different day-to-day issues and the variety of them, although there were some tools, they felt quite big, heavy, enterprise products that went quite deep into certain areas, like bulk project review. There's very little that spanned all those different use cases. It felt cost-effective. It felt easy to use because I was under time pressure. So the combination of all of those led me to creating Summize or speaking to the developers, bouncing some ideas around and suggesting that, "Why don't we have a go at doing it?" That was kind of where the problem came from and what I was setting out to achieve.

Annabel Pemberton:

So perhaps you could tell me a bit about some of the use cases of what Summize could do to go into those different areas as well?

Tom Dunlop:

To give you a flavour of a typical Summize journey and how we've got, I guess, the product that goes to where the lawyer works, we have a mobile app, we have a web application, we have a Microsoft Word add-in as well as Teams integration.

Annabel Pemberton:

Fantastic.

Tom Dunlop:

The flow, depending on what you're trying to do, you can upload and get quick summaries on an app, you can do red flag contract reviews. So if your either client or your business user wants a quick, "What are my three biggest risks?" You can create a very quick summary of a contract and just highlight those risks through the web application.

And then we produced this kind of add-in which was almost the kind of supercharged Microsoft Word, so that if you're doing that type of day-to-day redline review, Track Change review, we can help with incorporating your playbook, sense-checking definitions, understanding what defined terms are. And then finally all of that can integrate into Microsoft Teams as well very seamlessly. So we almost have a chatbot where you can ask questions of your contracts. So that might be your signed contracts.

So there's a load of different use cases, basically, and we've tried to make the product as flexible as possible, kind of coming from my problem which was doing a one-off review is great, but actually then if I never touch that tool again until I had another project, it wouldn't be that valuable to me. We're trying to create a tool that can be valuable at each stage of, I guess, a lifecycle of a GC, an in-house team, or what a client might instruct a law firm on.

Annabel Pemberton:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely. Because I heard that you also have a Slack integration. Is that right?

Tom Dunlop:

Yes.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes.

Tom Dunlop:

Yes. We have a Slack integration. It's an interesting ... I mean, that is a topic in itself. I mean, we are kind of making a bet that something like Teams, for me, has completely changed my view as to what the workspace of the future's going to look like. And I think, looking at how Teams has incorporated video conferencing, a SharePoint drive, chat as well as just the ability to set your calendar and tasks and day-to-day management, it doesn't feel like you need to go anywhere else.

One thing we've made a decision on very early on was we don't want to become, I guess, a very big, heavy enterprise product that you have to change your behaviour and go to our product to be productive, or to get the value out of it. So we will try and come to where the user is, whether that's in Microsoft Office, whether that's Teams, whether that's Slack, whether that's on your mobile, and we'll help make that process much smarter and better than, I guess, the other way around.

Annabel Pemberton:

That's great. And also, because you're integrated in tools like Slack, what size of legal teams are you typically directing the product at? Because I think legal tech sometimes gets a bit of a reputation for being for quite large companies and not really suitable for even startups. But would you say Summize is suitable for even smaller legal teams?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah, definitely. I mean, our typical target market is probably between one to 20 people in the in-house legal team. I mean, also in addition to that, we have sold directly to SMEs, so we've sold to ... whether it be a CFO or a finance director that has no in-house legal. So the combination of those, yeah, that's our sweet spot. But similarly, we have dealt with teams that have, say, 300 users but what we actually do is maybe start with 10 who are quite a confined group or location and roll out that way rather than trying to do it with some huge change program and implementation across those larger teams.

Annabel Pemberton:

Absolutely. That's great. And then, do you have any plans for the future months in terms of product development and new features that you could share?

Tom Dunlop:

I guess we go into the really deep product roadmaps. There's a lot to go at and my development team are constantly pushing back against me with the amount of ideas that we have. But I think a lot of the stuff we're looking to do ... I mean, Teams is a big area where we've started that integration, but I think we're going to look to go a bit deeper into that world. We also don't at the moment do the kind of create aspect of contracts, so we're very much around the review, project reviews and then more the kind of lightweight management.

We've got playbooks incorporated into our product. You can have multiple different precedent clauses for a clause. So the ability to actually quickly generate a contract either through Teams, through a mobile or through a web app is one of the next big features on the roadmap that should hopefully complete that picture, really, in terms of what our product can do day-to-day. And then a lot of it is client-dictated, so if we have a client with a particular issue or particular use case, we weigh them up and that generally drives the roadmap as we go forward.

Annabel Pemberton:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Definitely. And I suppose we've already touched upon it as well because you're integrated into Teams and Slack, but some legal teams struggle with actually adopting and starting to use legal technology. So do you have any advice for those legal teams to actually start a tool such as Summize?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah. It is an interesting one. I mean, our core culture as a business, and it's slightly off-topic, but it does answer the question, is we believe in the Kaizen philosophy. So very much continuous improvement, one percent better kind of mentality. So everything that we do as a business revolves around that, and our culture is hugely based around that. But then that actually goes into the product as well.

So a lot of the onboarding that we do with customers starts with, "What's the first piece of value you can get from the product?" Which is usually the Microsoft Word add-in. Because no matter what document you open up next, it's probably going to be valuable. So our onboarding basically takes you down those smaller steps of automation. Look for something which won't change behaviour, doesn't involve customization and gets you that immediate time to value. And we start with the Word add-in. We then look to extract some clauses to start to populate the playbook from Microsoft Word. And then we start to get a bit more where we upload a subset of agreements into the web application to produce those summaries. And then from there, you can roll that information out through something like a Teams or a Slack.

That kind of process allows I guess, the incremental change to be not overwhelming and not some kind of large change management, I guess, process, that we have to drive when we're onboarding teams. So that usually works quite well in terms of getting started with automation.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes, incremental improvement and taking it step-by-step.

Tom Dunlop:

Definitely. Definitely.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes. So as CEO of the tool and the company, how would you define success for the tool?

Tom Dunlop:

I mean, I guess there's a number of different factors. For me personally, I guess one of the things from when I started, I'm almost the worst person for the development team because I'm the customer as well as the CEO in many ways. Every time we roll out a feature, I'm kind of saying, "Well, I wouldn't use this." Or, if I am going to use it day-to-day, then it's hopefully a good thing.

A lot of the things that drives my, I guess, definition of whether the tool has been successful is, are people using it day-to-day? Is there feedback that we're assisting them to do their job rather than them feeling as though we've just developed a piece of tech to replace them? And I'm quite passionate about that as a concept. And so I think, one of the things that ... and it's a regular feedback we get from the tool. But I definitely want that to continue is they can tell it's been designed by a lawyer. They can tell it's been designed by someone who has had the use case. And who also gets, I guess, the nuances of how tech, yes, it can do so much but ultimately legal is an advisory service. It is something which involves an element of subjectivity and is an element that involves opinions.

So I think, trying to get a piece of tech that goes all that way, I mean, it's a long way off. We can get so far but I think that's one thing that I'm really passionate about in terms of how the tool could be successful. And then ultimately it'd be global adoption, I think. That sounds like almost world domination, but I think what I mean by that is we've got some clients in the US and Australia, mainly English-speaking countries, but I do think our product translates well across geographical boundaries as well. And I think having the tool being used daily to assist lawyers across those different regions is definitely the ultimate of where we want to get to.

Annabel Pemberton:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Definitely. And I know you've been talking about technology assisting lawyers, but what do you see to be the biggest benefit of legal teams using legal technology?

Tom Dunlop:

I think the biggest benefit is just all about assisting lawyers to be more efficient. I think lawyers as a ... I mean, I've said it before about the advisory service, but a lot of the concepts you talk about when you're a lawyer is your time, how valuable your time is. If you're in-house counsel, it's all about being ... I have the phrase of visible value, so it's all about, how can you be more visible? How can you be proving that you're proving more value? A lot of that comes down with how you're managing your time.

So I think the one thing is it makes to lawyers to be more efficient. But I think there's a lot of, I guess, sub-benefits, which, things like mental health. We actually have quite a big thing about we don't want junior lawyers to come into the legal industry and be disillusioned by some of these tasks. I went through it. Sometimes we've heard feedback, and it wasn't intentional, but almost using our platform gamified a contract review exercise.

And actually, even though, junior lawyer, you might not associate that with the benefit of using legal technology, it actually felt like it was a bit of a retention tool to retain talent or attract talent, and also potentially just improve the lives day-to-day of people who don't want to sit there and ... Back when I was doing it, I guess, sifting through boxes of paper. But even in today, it's just reading volumes and volumes or PDFs and putting it into a spreadsheet. I think if you gamify it, make it a bit more interesting, it just improves that day-to-day life, I guess, of the lawyers as well. So I guess they're the main ones for me.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes, that's really interesting. Because, of course, well, the perception when I first came into legal technology was we should learn how to use it because it's going to take away the role of the trainee. But the more we look into it, it's more actually we can use legal technology to assist and improve our role. And I think the role of the future trainee is going to be different. And I'd actually love to hear your opinion and your thoughts on this as well. Just because, if we are going to be using legal technology to do these tasks then they might be tasks that a trainee would've probably done in the past. So what do you think? How do you think legal technology can work alongside with actually training future lawyers?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah. I mean, what's interesting is the dynamic of, I guess, how lawyers provide their service is changing at the same pace or maybe even quicker than the adoption of legal tech. What I mean by that is, I guess, everyone talks about the hourly rate and how that needs to change first before, I guess, the traditional trainee model and in terms of the work that they do, I guess, dramatically changes.

But I think they're both merging into one, which is, well, if fees are going to be billed out on either fixed retainers, fixed costs for a specific work, and that more ingrained partnership with lawyers, they need to find productivity gains and they need to make sure that everyone is being as productive as they possibly can. So it's not in the interests of law firms to have trainees spending hours and hours recording time or doing things like document reviews that clients will ultimately not be particularly happy that they're paying for. And I think that type of work if we can automate it, I think it's great for trainees because ultimately you're learning the ropes of being a bit more of a commercial advisor, a bit more of a business advisor.

Like I said at the beginning, legal services is an advisory service. It's a subjective opinion about a set of facts or a set of documents. And I think a lot of people when you're in trainees, they get disillusioned because actually, that's not what you're doing. You're doing sometimes a lot of administrative tasks or process-driven tasks. Whereas if you can actually just learn the trade of being a subjective advisor and dealing with clients early in your career, it's only going to just fast-track the trainee's progress but also how productive and how valuable the firm will be perceived by clients as well.

I think it's good all round. I think the business models need to change from law firms to really take effect because that pressure will mean that they have to introduce tech to automate those processes. But if we can get trainees who ultimately are probably the most valuable resource of a lot of firms in terms of how you should be dealing with clients and how you can relate to clients. So yeah, I think it's overall a positive thing for trainees in the future, not a replacement of.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes. And I think this evolution of the legal services is really important for law firms as well as legal tech tools to consider. And I noticed your article on creative lawyers and the series around that. So I suppose, in addition for lawyers to be legal advisors and really having that business savvy, how do you see creativity also being an important element of a lawyer's role?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah. I mean, I do find it an interesting one because part of me think, lawyers, by their nature, are obviously creative because they are problem-solvers. I mean, their day-to-day job ... I mean, I used to love doing a lot of the commercial negotiations for the businesses that I worked for because you're constantly trying to analyze, I guess, the bargaining power, how important a particular clause is based on the certain factors that you knew at that particular time, and then get an outcome that everyone wants.

So you're constantly problem-solving. You're trying to find creative answers to problems. But I guess a lot of that is all focused around the law or the contract or what you're currently working on. And I think what's missed a lot of the time, and obviously, lawyers are perceived as this rigid, academic, maybe a little dry in terms of their personality. But if lawyers can channel that creativity that they use when they're applying the law, but be more around, I guess, the process, around how they can be more visible. One of them that I used to do is how I can get away from the narrative of, "I'm Tom from legal"? Because if you asked anyone in the business, my personal brand was Tom from legal.

And so, I was being creative in how could I communicate my personal brand better to the rest of the business? And that isn't necessarily a hugely creative thing, but actually, in terms of the perception of me to the rest of the business, just doing, I guess, reiterating what I did day-to-day so the narrative became, "Oh, that's Tom. He negotiates all our big contracts. He's responsible for making sure that we don't trip ourselves up on this risk. He monitors all our risk and compliance." That narrative is far more powerful than Tom from legal. That's just a creative way to change the perception within a business and change, I guess, the visible value that you have as an individual.

And so there's a lot of areas like that that I used to look at. Another example of creativity that hopefully, I tried to do when I was an in-house lawyer was I went on the Sales Navigator of LinkedIn. So those who haven't used it before, it obviously allows you as to find prospects. But there's a section on there called PointDrive. I think it's called Smart Links now. And what we used to do was, before, when we used to send our standard contract to customers, we used to send a video and I would talk the other side through the contract-

Annabel Pemberton:

Fantastic.

Tom Dunlop:

... kind of explaining my key points and why I did what I did so that the first mark-up you got back wasn't a kind of butchered document. There was context there. So you could almost have that first call with the other side, but it was all automated so you just got this interactive link. You could download the document, but you got some context alongside. Again, it wasn't that, I guess, the content that I was putting in there was different than what I would've done on the first call, but actually trying to get ahead of that, automate it, put that first step in place, was just another way of being quite creative in how I delivered, I guess legal services.

So it's things like that that I think, if lawyers channelled a bit more energy in their problem-solving, clear problem-solving mentality, into those types of things, I think there's already creativity in law but I think there's a lot more that could be done.

Annabel Pemberton:

I really love that. And was that through LinkedIn, then? Sending the video attached to the contract?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah. It was at the time. It changed from being ... So PointDrive is part of LinkedIn. I think it is now called Smart Links. But the one that we use at Summize is something called Qwilr. And Qwilr's a similar thing. It's like an interactive PDF, almost, where you can upload videos, documents. The appearance of it and the usability of it is much more appealing and obviously a lot more informative than just receiving an email with a Word document attached, for example.

So yeah, there's a load of different options. It's a really interesting area that I think, particularly in legal, with the advisory element and the document element, could be a lot more done around that space.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes. I really love this topic. I think it's really important because I think especially when you're studying law if you don't study something else and then convert, or even when you're studying something like the LPC, it's very rules-based. It's still very practical at LPC level. But if you're creative before university or getting to that point, it can feel a bit like the creativity is draining out of you when you're studying law. But I don't think it has to be like that, especially when you're practising.

I've definitely been in a very fortunate situation when I've been able to be creative in my role and have that responsibility and flexibility. But those examples, I think, are really fantastic. They're really great for being creative as a lawyer and serving your clients and helping your team in a better way.

Tom Dunlop:

Hopefully. Hopefully. There's loads of different examples that people can do. One thing I really like about the social media and the kind of ... I guess, and obviously you've got your podcasts like this one. I mean, is you can share information much easier around what people are using as hacks. I've seen a lot on the Microsoft Word things that people can use. People using Google Docs in a more efficient way. And almost, that's what needs to happen and will happen more and more.

But even if you're not learning it within the course, if you can just look at these types of blogs and the podcasts that are talking about this type of thing, you can pick up a load of these tips. And suddenly, if you go into a firm with these types of things under your hat that you can suggest, "Why don't we do it this way or that way?" I mean, you'll soon find yourself heading up an innovation team, never mind being part of a project. So it's definitely worth doing, and I reckon there's a lot of content, really good content out there for these type of ideas.

Annabel Pemberton:

Do you have any other practical advice for students who would be looking for a role in legal technology?

Tom Dunlop:

I mean, I think the first step, and it comes back to that Kaizen approach, I guess, to anything, that I do or we do, is definitely just think of the one thing that you could be more creative on and start thinking about ... and it becomes a mindset then. And I think if you're either already in a firm, find a little process, something that could be improved on its own or quite a confined area that you could just suggest a one percent better.

Alternatively, one thing I like people to do if they ... and we look out for these people, is writing content, doing blogs. Either for yourself or potentially on behalf of approaching legal tech companies or departments. Share your expertise, share some hints and tips. Maybe volunteer to do some kind of training on how you can make Microsoft Word more intelligent, or how you can use Google Docs for a particular purpose. You can learn that off your own back on YouTube or on certain blogs. And then if you go and tie that together, put a bit of gloss over it, and just volunteer to do it.

You then start to be associated with being someone that, I guess, can add value to the technology implementation of these firms or these in-house teams. And from there, I mean, I'd be surprised if the jobs didn't find that person because that's generally how it works at the moment, particularly with the advent of things like TikTok and Instagram. I mean, my company keeps telling me I need to go on TikTok, but I don't even know what it is.

But they are just going to keep going bigger and bigger, and I think over the next few years, certainly if you have, I guess, exposure to that or your part of that environment, the jobs will find you and I think the legal technology will be looking to people like that. So definitely, that's a first step.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes. Good. Great advice. Absolutely. To really look for the opportunities or the gaps and figure out where you can provide value and fit in there. And do you have any book that you would recommend to listeners that you're currently reading or that you think would be inspiring or interesting for them?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah. I mean, I suppose I could recommend a load of different business books, but I think, certainly relevant to this conversation and that mentality, two of the ones that we have internally to drive this type of mentality is The Spirit of Kaizen, which is one of them, or Atomic Habits. They're two different books, but they're both quite similar in their approach. And I guess the other one as well I found quite engaging was one called The Goal by Eli Goldratt. So that was one where, again, it was looking at processes just generally. It was a bit more generic, but it was quite an interactive, immersive book.

Annabel Pemberton:

Thank you for the suggestions. I've heard of Atomic Habits, actually. Haven't read it. It's on my list though. Great.

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah.

Annabel Pemberton:

Tom, thank you for coming onto The Wired Wig podcast and talking to me today. It's been really interesting hearing more about creativity in the legal world as well and hearing more about Summize and what you're doing with the tool.

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me.

Annabel Pemberton:

I'm Annabel Pemberton and you have just listened to The Wired Wig podcast, available on Spotify, iTunes and Apple Podcasts. As always, if you liked what you just heard, be sure to follow this account on Spotify and follow The Wired Wig on Instagram for the latest tech law news and updates.

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The Wired Wig Podcast: Smooth Integrations and Creative Lawyers

By
Summize
February 2, 2021

Transcript

Tom Dunlop:

... and I think what's missed a lot of the time is ... and obviously, lawyers are perceived as this rigid, academic, maybe a little dry in terms of their personality, but if lawyers can channel that creativity that they use when they're applying the law, but be more around process, around how they can be more visible. One of them that I used to do is, how can I get away from the narrative of, "I'm Tom from legal"? Because if you asked anyone in the business, my personal brand was Tom from legal.

Annabel Pemberton:

Welcome to The Wired Wig, demystifying tech law trends and educating about law in tomorrow's society. Hello, my name is Annabel Pemberton and welcome back to The Wired Wig. Today, I'm joined by Tom Dunlop, who is the CEO and founder of legal technology tool Summize. Summize is a contract management and review product, and today we're going to be talking a bit more about the use cases and its USP.

Tom, after qualifying as a solicitor in the UK, has led several legal teams including UserZoom, Zuto and AppSense. So, Tom, welcome to The Wired Wig.

Tom Dunlop:

Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Annabel Pemberton:

It's a pleasure. So why don't we first start off with, what attracted you to legal technology and how did you get into the law and technology space?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah. I mean, I guess I had quite a unique combination of working as a general counsel, but within generally fast-growth technology or software businesses. So I could see firsthand, I guess, the impact of good software in the workplace and when it was rolled out successfully. And I felt there was probably a distinct lack, I guess, of relevant technology in the legal sector, certainly helping my day-to-day.

And so I also had access to developers, and I could bounce ideas off developers that worked in the business. So I think, yeah, it was definitely my first, I guess, foray into legal technology was the combination of my day-to-day job as a lawyer, as a GC, but combining that with actually working within and around the entrepreneurs of fast-growth software businesses in other sectors, which was, yeah, I guess what led to where I am today.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes, absolutely. I suppose the opportunity to work multidisciplinary and work across different teams who'd come from different backgrounds and other entrepreneurs was really fascinating. So what would you say was the main problem that you're trying to solve at Summize, and how did you come across this problem to really think, "Okay, we need to create a tool to solve it"?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah. I mean, I guess in my role as GC, there's a few different areas. So contract is obviously the core of what Summize is involved with, and I was responsible for day-to-day management of contracts. I went through numerous funding rounds as well as two exits. So I had that to deal with in terms of the project reviews. I also obviously went through the change in regulations, so GDPR was quite a huge piece of regulations to roll out across different businesses. So the combination of all those different use cases.

And what I kind of did was, I guess, looked at what tools are out there, what products are out there, how could I do them more effectively? Because ultimately I was literally opening a PDF, reading through line by line, creating a spreadsheet of key terms in the project-based work, and then day-to-day would be the same thing. I'm working within Microsoft Word. I'm doing markups, reading every line. It's just a huge manual process.

I guess dealing with all those different day-to-day issues and the variety of them, although there were some tools, they felt quite big, heavy, enterprise products that went quite deep into certain areas, like bulk project review. There's very little that spanned all those different use cases. It felt cost-effective. It felt easy to use because I was under time pressure. So the combination of all of those led me to creating Summize or speaking to the developers, bouncing some ideas around and suggesting that, "Why don't we have a go at doing it?" That was kind of where the problem came from and what I was setting out to achieve.

Annabel Pemberton:

So perhaps you could tell me a bit about some of the use cases of what Summize could do to go into those different areas as well?

Tom Dunlop:

To give you a flavour of a typical Summize journey and how we've got, I guess, the product that goes to where the lawyer works, we have a mobile app, we have a web application, we have a Microsoft Word add-in as well as Teams integration.

Annabel Pemberton:

Fantastic.

Tom Dunlop:

The flow, depending on what you're trying to do, you can upload and get quick summaries on an app, you can do red flag contract reviews. So if your either client or your business user wants a quick, "What are my three biggest risks?" You can create a very quick summary of a contract and just highlight those risks through the web application.

And then we produced this kind of add-in which was almost the kind of supercharged Microsoft Word, so that if you're doing that type of day-to-day redline review, Track Change review, we can help with incorporating your playbook, sense-checking definitions, understanding what defined terms are. And then finally all of that can integrate into Microsoft Teams as well very seamlessly. So we almost have a chatbot where you can ask questions of your contracts. So that might be your signed contracts.

So there's a load of different use cases, basically, and we've tried to make the product as flexible as possible, kind of coming from my problem which was doing a one-off review is great, but actually then if I never touch that tool again until I had another project, it wouldn't be that valuable to me. We're trying to create a tool that can be valuable at each stage of, I guess, a lifecycle of a GC, an in-house team, or what a client might instruct a law firm on.

Annabel Pemberton:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely. Because I heard that you also have a Slack integration. Is that right?

Tom Dunlop:

Yes.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes.

Tom Dunlop:

Yes. We have a Slack integration. It's an interesting ... I mean, that is a topic in itself. I mean, we are kind of making a bet that something like Teams, for me, has completely changed my view as to what the workspace of the future's going to look like. And I think, looking at how Teams has incorporated video conferencing, a SharePoint drive, chat as well as just the ability to set your calendar and tasks and day-to-day management, it doesn't feel like you need to go anywhere else.

One thing we've made a decision on very early on was we don't want to become, I guess, a very big, heavy enterprise product that you have to change your behaviour and go to our product to be productive, or to get the value out of it. So we will try and come to where the user is, whether that's in Microsoft Office, whether that's Teams, whether that's Slack, whether that's on your mobile, and we'll help make that process much smarter and better than, I guess, the other way around.

Annabel Pemberton:

That's great. And also, because you're integrated in tools like Slack, what size of legal teams are you typically directing the product at? Because I think legal tech sometimes gets a bit of a reputation for being for quite large companies and not really suitable for even startups. But would you say Summize is suitable for even smaller legal teams?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah, definitely. I mean, our typical target market is probably between one to 20 people in the in-house legal team. I mean, also in addition to that, we have sold directly to SMEs, so we've sold to ... whether it be a CFO or a finance director that has no in-house legal. So the combination of those, yeah, that's our sweet spot. But similarly, we have dealt with teams that have, say, 300 users but what we actually do is maybe start with 10 who are quite a confined group or location and roll out that way rather than trying to do it with some huge change program and implementation across those larger teams.

Annabel Pemberton:

Absolutely. That's great. And then, do you have any plans for the future months in terms of product development and new features that you could share?

Tom Dunlop:

I guess we go into the really deep product roadmaps. There's a lot to go at and my development team are constantly pushing back against me with the amount of ideas that we have. But I think a lot of the stuff we're looking to do ... I mean, Teams is a big area where we've started that integration, but I think we're going to look to go a bit deeper into that world. We also don't at the moment do the kind of create aspect of contracts, so we're very much around the review, project reviews and then more the kind of lightweight management.

We've got playbooks incorporated into our product. You can have multiple different precedent clauses for a clause. So the ability to actually quickly generate a contract either through Teams, through a mobile or through a web app is one of the next big features on the roadmap that should hopefully complete that picture, really, in terms of what our product can do day-to-day. And then a lot of it is client-dictated, so if we have a client with a particular issue or particular use case, we weigh them up and that generally drives the roadmap as we go forward.

Annabel Pemberton:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Definitely. And I suppose we've already touched upon it as well because you're integrated into Teams and Slack, but some legal teams struggle with actually adopting and starting to use legal technology. So do you have any advice for those legal teams to actually start a tool such as Summize?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah. It is an interesting one. I mean, our core culture as a business, and it's slightly off-topic, but it does answer the question, is we believe in the Kaizen philosophy. So very much continuous improvement, one percent better kind of mentality. So everything that we do as a business revolves around that, and our culture is hugely based around that. But then that actually goes into the product as well.

So a lot of the onboarding that we do with customers starts with, "What's the first piece of value you can get from the product?" Which is usually the Microsoft Word add-in. Because no matter what document you open up next, it's probably going to be valuable. So our onboarding basically takes you down those smaller steps of automation. Look for something which won't change behaviour, doesn't involve customization and gets you that immediate time to value. And we start with the Word add-in. We then look to extract some clauses to start to populate the playbook from Microsoft Word. And then we start to get a bit more where we upload a subset of agreements into the web application to produce those summaries. And then from there, you can roll that information out through something like a Teams or a Slack.

That kind of process allows I guess, the incremental change to be not overwhelming and not some kind of large change management, I guess, process, that we have to drive when we're onboarding teams. So that usually works quite well in terms of getting started with automation.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes, incremental improvement and taking it step-by-step.

Tom Dunlop:

Definitely. Definitely.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes. So as CEO of the tool and the company, how would you define success for the tool?

Tom Dunlop:

I mean, I guess there's a number of different factors. For me personally, I guess one of the things from when I started, I'm almost the worst person for the development team because I'm the customer as well as the CEO in many ways. Every time we roll out a feature, I'm kind of saying, "Well, I wouldn't use this." Or, if I am going to use it day-to-day, then it's hopefully a good thing.

A lot of the things that drives my, I guess, definition of whether the tool has been successful is, are people using it day-to-day? Is there feedback that we're assisting them to do their job rather than them feeling as though we've just developed a piece of tech to replace them? And I'm quite passionate about that as a concept. And so I think, one of the things that ... and it's a regular feedback we get from the tool. But I definitely want that to continue is they can tell it's been designed by a lawyer. They can tell it's been designed by someone who has had the use case. And who also gets, I guess, the nuances of how tech, yes, it can do so much but ultimately legal is an advisory service. It is something which involves an element of subjectivity and is an element that involves opinions.

So I think, trying to get a piece of tech that goes all that way, I mean, it's a long way off. We can get so far but I think that's one thing that I'm really passionate about in terms of how the tool could be successful. And then ultimately it'd be global adoption, I think. That sounds like almost world domination, but I think what I mean by that is we've got some clients in the US and Australia, mainly English-speaking countries, but I do think our product translates well across geographical boundaries as well. And I think having the tool being used daily to assist lawyers across those different regions is definitely the ultimate of where we want to get to.

Annabel Pemberton:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Definitely. And I know you've been talking about technology assisting lawyers, but what do you see to be the biggest benefit of legal teams using legal technology?

Tom Dunlop:

I think the biggest benefit is just all about assisting lawyers to be more efficient. I think lawyers as a ... I mean, I've said it before about the advisory service, but a lot of the concepts you talk about when you're a lawyer is your time, how valuable your time is. If you're in-house counsel, it's all about being ... I have the phrase of visible value, so it's all about, how can you be more visible? How can you be proving that you're proving more value? A lot of that comes down with how you're managing your time.

So I think the one thing is it makes to lawyers to be more efficient. But I think there's a lot of, I guess, sub-benefits, which, things like mental health. We actually have quite a big thing about we don't want junior lawyers to come into the legal industry and be disillusioned by some of these tasks. I went through it. Sometimes we've heard feedback, and it wasn't intentional, but almost using our platform gamified a contract review exercise.

And actually, even though, junior lawyer, you might not associate that with the benefit of using legal technology, it actually felt like it was a bit of a retention tool to retain talent or attract talent, and also potentially just improve the lives day-to-day of people who don't want to sit there and ... Back when I was doing it, I guess, sifting through boxes of paper. But even in today, it's just reading volumes and volumes or PDFs and putting it into a spreadsheet. I think if you gamify it, make it a bit more interesting, it just improves that day-to-day life, I guess, of the lawyers as well. So I guess they're the main ones for me.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes, that's really interesting. Because, of course, well, the perception when I first came into legal technology was we should learn how to use it because it's going to take away the role of the trainee. But the more we look into it, it's more actually we can use legal technology to assist and improve our role. And I think the role of the future trainee is going to be different. And I'd actually love to hear your opinion and your thoughts on this as well. Just because, if we are going to be using legal technology to do these tasks then they might be tasks that a trainee would've probably done in the past. So what do you think? How do you think legal technology can work alongside with actually training future lawyers?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah. I mean, what's interesting is the dynamic of, I guess, how lawyers provide their service is changing at the same pace or maybe even quicker than the adoption of legal tech. What I mean by that is, I guess, everyone talks about the hourly rate and how that needs to change first before, I guess, the traditional trainee model and in terms of the work that they do, I guess, dramatically changes.

But I think they're both merging into one, which is, well, if fees are going to be billed out on either fixed retainers, fixed costs for a specific work, and that more ingrained partnership with lawyers, they need to find productivity gains and they need to make sure that everyone is being as productive as they possibly can. So it's not in the interests of law firms to have trainees spending hours and hours recording time or doing things like document reviews that clients will ultimately not be particularly happy that they're paying for. And I think that type of work if we can automate it, I think it's great for trainees because ultimately you're learning the ropes of being a bit more of a commercial advisor, a bit more of a business advisor.

Like I said at the beginning, legal services is an advisory service. It's a subjective opinion about a set of facts or a set of documents. And I think a lot of people when you're in trainees, they get disillusioned because actually, that's not what you're doing. You're doing sometimes a lot of administrative tasks or process-driven tasks. Whereas if you can actually just learn the trade of being a subjective advisor and dealing with clients early in your career, it's only going to just fast-track the trainee's progress but also how productive and how valuable the firm will be perceived by clients as well.

I think it's good all round. I think the business models need to change from law firms to really take effect because that pressure will mean that they have to introduce tech to automate those processes. But if we can get trainees who ultimately are probably the most valuable resource of a lot of firms in terms of how you should be dealing with clients and how you can relate to clients. So yeah, I think it's overall a positive thing for trainees in the future, not a replacement of.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes. And I think this evolution of the legal services is really important for law firms as well as legal tech tools to consider. And I noticed your article on creative lawyers and the series around that. So I suppose, in addition for lawyers to be legal advisors and really having that business savvy, how do you see creativity also being an important element of a lawyer's role?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah. I mean, I do find it an interesting one because part of me think, lawyers, by their nature, are obviously creative because they are problem-solvers. I mean, their day-to-day job ... I mean, I used to love doing a lot of the commercial negotiations for the businesses that I worked for because you're constantly trying to analyze, I guess, the bargaining power, how important a particular clause is based on the certain factors that you knew at that particular time, and then get an outcome that everyone wants.

So you're constantly problem-solving. You're trying to find creative answers to problems. But I guess a lot of that is all focused around the law or the contract or what you're currently working on. And I think what's missed a lot of the time, and obviously, lawyers are perceived as this rigid, academic, maybe a little dry in terms of their personality. But if lawyers can channel that creativity that they use when they're applying the law, but be more around, I guess, the process, around how they can be more visible. One of them that I used to do is how I can get away from the narrative of, "I'm Tom from legal"? Because if you asked anyone in the business, my personal brand was Tom from legal.

And so, I was being creative in how could I communicate my personal brand better to the rest of the business? And that isn't necessarily a hugely creative thing, but actually, in terms of the perception of me to the rest of the business, just doing, I guess, reiterating what I did day-to-day so the narrative became, "Oh, that's Tom. He negotiates all our big contracts. He's responsible for making sure that we don't trip ourselves up on this risk. He monitors all our risk and compliance." That narrative is far more powerful than Tom from legal. That's just a creative way to change the perception within a business and change, I guess, the visible value that you have as an individual.

And so there's a lot of areas like that that I used to look at. Another example of creativity that hopefully, I tried to do when I was an in-house lawyer was I went on the Sales Navigator of LinkedIn. So those who haven't used it before, it obviously allows you as to find prospects. But there's a section on there called PointDrive. I think it's called Smart Links now. And what we used to do was, before, when we used to send our standard contract to customers, we used to send a video and I would talk the other side through the contract-

Annabel Pemberton:

Fantastic.

Tom Dunlop:

... kind of explaining my key points and why I did what I did so that the first mark-up you got back wasn't a kind of butchered document. There was context there. So you could almost have that first call with the other side, but it was all automated so you just got this interactive link. You could download the document, but you got some context alongside. Again, it wasn't that, I guess, the content that I was putting in there was different than what I would've done on the first call, but actually trying to get ahead of that, automate it, put that first step in place, was just another way of being quite creative in how I delivered, I guess legal services.

So it's things like that that I think, if lawyers channelled a bit more energy in their problem-solving, clear problem-solving mentality, into those types of things, I think there's already creativity in law but I think there's a lot more that could be done.

Annabel Pemberton:

I really love that. And was that through LinkedIn, then? Sending the video attached to the contract?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah. It was at the time. It changed from being ... So PointDrive is part of LinkedIn. I think it is now called Smart Links. But the one that we use at Summize is something called Qwilr. And Qwilr's a similar thing. It's like an interactive PDF, almost, where you can upload videos, documents. The appearance of it and the usability of it is much more appealing and obviously a lot more informative than just receiving an email with a Word document attached, for example.

So yeah, there's a load of different options. It's a really interesting area that I think, particularly in legal, with the advisory element and the document element, could be a lot more done around that space.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes. I really love this topic. I think it's really important because I think especially when you're studying law if you don't study something else and then convert, or even when you're studying something like the LPC, it's very rules-based. It's still very practical at LPC level. But if you're creative before university or getting to that point, it can feel a bit like the creativity is draining out of you when you're studying law. But I don't think it has to be like that, especially when you're practising.

I've definitely been in a very fortunate situation when I've been able to be creative in my role and have that responsibility and flexibility. But those examples, I think, are really fantastic. They're really great for being creative as a lawyer and serving your clients and helping your team in a better way.

Tom Dunlop:

Hopefully. Hopefully. There's loads of different examples that people can do. One thing I really like about the social media and the kind of ... I guess, and obviously you've got your podcasts like this one. I mean, is you can share information much easier around what people are using as hacks. I've seen a lot on the Microsoft Word things that people can use. People using Google Docs in a more efficient way. And almost, that's what needs to happen and will happen more and more.

But even if you're not learning it within the course, if you can just look at these types of blogs and the podcasts that are talking about this type of thing, you can pick up a load of these tips. And suddenly, if you go into a firm with these types of things under your hat that you can suggest, "Why don't we do it this way or that way?" I mean, you'll soon find yourself heading up an innovation team, never mind being part of a project. So it's definitely worth doing, and I reckon there's a lot of content, really good content out there for these type of ideas.

Annabel Pemberton:

Do you have any other practical advice for students who would be looking for a role in legal technology?

Tom Dunlop:

I mean, I think the first step, and it comes back to that Kaizen approach, I guess, to anything, that I do or we do, is definitely just think of the one thing that you could be more creative on and start thinking about ... and it becomes a mindset then. And I think if you're either already in a firm, find a little process, something that could be improved on its own or quite a confined area that you could just suggest a one percent better.

Alternatively, one thing I like people to do if they ... and we look out for these people, is writing content, doing blogs. Either for yourself or potentially on behalf of approaching legal tech companies or departments. Share your expertise, share some hints and tips. Maybe volunteer to do some kind of training on how you can make Microsoft Word more intelligent, or how you can use Google Docs for a particular purpose. You can learn that off your own back on YouTube or on certain blogs. And then if you go and tie that together, put a bit of gloss over it, and just volunteer to do it.

You then start to be associated with being someone that, I guess, can add value to the technology implementation of these firms or these in-house teams. And from there, I mean, I'd be surprised if the jobs didn't find that person because that's generally how it works at the moment, particularly with the advent of things like TikTok and Instagram. I mean, my company keeps telling me I need to go on TikTok, but I don't even know what it is.

But they are just going to keep going bigger and bigger, and I think over the next few years, certainly if you have, I guess, exposure to that or your part of that environment, the jobs will find you and I think the legal technology will be looking to people like that. So definitely, that's a first step.

Annabel Pemberton:

Yes. Good. Great advice. Absolutely. To really look for the opportunities or the gaps and figure out where you can provide value and fit in there. And do you have any book that you would recommend to listeners that you're currently reading or that you think would be inspiring or interesting for them?

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah. I mean, I suppose I could recommend a load of different business books, but I think, certainly relevant to this conversation and that mentality, two of the ones that we have internally to drive this type of mentality is The Spirit of Kaizen, which is one of them, or Atomic Habits. They're two different books, but they're both quite similar in their approach. And I guess the other one as well I found quite engaging was one called The Goal by Eli Goldratt. So that was one where, again, it was looking at processes just generally. It was a bit more generic, but it was quite an interactive, immersive book.

Annabel Pemberton:

Thank you for the suggestions. I've heard of Atomic Habits, actually. Haven't read it. It's on my list though. Great.

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah.

Annabel Pemberton:

Tom, thank you for coming onto The Wired Wig podcast and talking to me today. It's been really interesting hearing more about creativity in the legal world as well and hearing more about Summize and what you're doing with the tool.

Tom Dunlop:

Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me.

Annabel Pemberton:

I'm Annabel Pemberton and you have just listened to The Wired Wig podcast, available on Spotify, iTunes and Apple Podcasts. As always, if you liked what you just heard, be sure to follow this account on Spotify and follow The Wired Wig on Instagram for the latest tech law news and updates.

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