Today we interviewed Mat Jakubowski , CEO and Co-Founder of Silvertown Legal who shares with us his vision of legaltech solutions and tells us how Silvertown Legal aims to forge future-ready lawyers.
Tell us something about yourself and about Silvertown Legal.
I am Mat Jakubowski. More than a year ago, I have decided to leave the traditional legal path, and pursue my passion in Legal Tech. A world of knowledge gained at Thomson Reuters, legal service companies, and Dentons (world’s largest law firm), has given me a unique blend of legal tech skills needed to understand the bread and butter of the lawyer’s work. My vision is to provide an accessible education of Legal Tech to all lawyers. At Silvertown Legal, we are focusing purely on delivering world-class Legal Tech training and mentoring to inspiring lawyers and legal professionals. Our mission is to educate them and make them realize how powerful Legal Tech is – not only when it comes to leveraging our client’s internal work processes, but also as a standout factor that will attract more clients, and strengthen their reputation.
What does legaltech mean for you?
Legal Tech can be presented as a threat, a necessity, or as an exciting opportunity. I opt for the latter option. The true spirit of Legal Tech is innovation – creating value through delivering new ways of working. That value sits at the core of Innovation and Legal Tech. By bringing value to our clients we can change the landscape of the legal industry, both internally and by adding more meaningful deliverables to clients. That’s the end goal, right?
What are the limits of legaltech solutions today? In other terms, what can be done thanks to a legaltech tool? And what cannot?
I personally believe that the limits are not posed on the technical side, but rather on the lawyers’ site, who are still somehow skeptical about adopting legal tech in their own practice (the standard response is “I believe that Legal Tech is the future, but I can’t see how it can address MY specific pain points”). If not for that, we would be where FinTech is now – a place of rapid development and recognition. I would also say that sky is the limit when it comes to what can be done thanks to Legal Tech, however, I can see a significant market gap when considering available negotiation tools. In the ideal world, lawyers would not use e-mails to negotiate terms with their counter-parties, however, this is still a reality, and as there is no appealing negotiation solution on the market, the lack of it hinders that vision. I am not a huge fan of using e-mails in general – they are just really difficult to filter and to assign long-term cases/clients unless you are very careful about that from the get-go. I would love to say bye to old-fashioned e-mails and use modern collaboration platforms, however, this is still a work in progress.
In your opinion, why should a law firm or a legal department adopt legaltech solutions?
Legal tech will stay with us – we want it or not. We can either try not to see the elephant in the room, however, this is not a very sustainable strategy for firms. Also, clients of law firms are more demanding than ever. They know that certain highly repeatable tasks can be easily automated and analyzed by AI, therefore, at some point sooner than later, they will ask their lawyers to use those instead of doing the highly standardized manual tasks themselves. I believe that clients expect more from their attorneys – legal advice is a given. Clients want a closer relationship with their commercially aware lawyer.
From your perspective, is there a legal field that will not be touched by legaltech?
While core and commodity work will be fully automated at some point, I doubt the AI will be able to solve uniques and expert legal advice and out-of-ordinary matters for clients. They will need an attorney only for those high value / high risk / high complexity matters, but would be happy (or happier) to delegate the low risk / low value / low complexity matters to the machine. A “human” legal advice will therefore be focussed more on cases and transactions that are highly bespoke, and Legal Tech is unlikely to disrupt that market, at least in the near future. Therefore, to answer your question, I do not believe there will be a field that will be immune to Legal Tech, however, the scope in which Legal Tech will affect certain areas of law will vary on the expertise level needed to produce deliverables for clients.
In your opinion, do you think that legal education is aligned with the needs of the legal professions and with the expectations and real needs of the clients?
This is a great question! Silvertown Legal is providing something new – an express, well-rounded, and tech jargon-free education to lawyers who want to know how they can use Legal Tech in practice. I founded this company because I noticed there is no other provider of Legal Tech education catering their services to lawyers, not to law firms in general. With that in mind, Legal Tech education is sadly not taught at Law School, but has become one other element clients are looking for in their attorneys. That is why it is so important that lawyers are aware of what is possible with help of legal tech. We are not teaching them advanced coding, or anything only tech experts can do. Instead, our mission is to provide accessible Legal Tech education to all lawyers, putting the practicality of such knowledge first. We want our lawyers to have those “aha!” moments after learning with us. We want them to help us change the legal industry by introducing change.
Could you briefly picture the status of legaltech in Italy and UK, two markets you know well?
The two markets are really different. There are a lot of tools that were invented in the UK (e.g. Luminance and Contract Express) that have a huge presence in the UK. Not only lawyers seem to be more aware that Legal Tech is essential, but also firms do not hesitate to invest in Legal Tech through various incentives or even offering Legal Tech start-up incubators. Legal Tech in Italy is definitely a rapidly growing market (the tech is there), however, I believe that the biggest obstacle is the approach of the majority of lawyers who are more skeptical about tech than in the U.K. This is of course just a generalization, and the landscape is gradually changing, however, we need to work harder to make Legal Tech more noticeable in the legal industry in Italy. In Italy, it is a work in progress, but I am super happy to be a part of it.
Can you tell us what does document automation consist of?
Legal document automation workflow usually consists of two main elements – the coded template which needs to be developed by a legal engineer or a lawyer (depending on whether it is a code/low-code/no-code solution). The second element is the ready template which can be accessed by anyone who needs to draft a contract – it is usually a questionnaire containing all relevant questions (logically coded in the previous step) that all make for the logic of all terms and conditions included with a document. From then on, the process is highly automated saving the user around 70% of the time versus manual drafting. It’s a win-win situation.
From your point of view, which types of legal documents are the most suitable to be automated?
I would always start with reasonably easy to draft templates with highly repeatable data – Non Disclosure Agreements and Power of Attorneys are great examples of those. The rule of thumb is that if your document contains at least 60% of repeatable elements (party details, boilerplates – so-called “low hanging fruits)” the can be automated, even if not fully but only to get a reliable first draft document. That is enough to learn how the process works and what is important when developing a template. From then on, you can scale up and automate more advanced documents, such as Share Purchase Agreements, Facility Agreements, M&A documents, and so on.
When drafting an automated legal document, how do the legal professionals, IT analysts and engineers collaborate?
It is usually a highly collaborative process. First, the legal team needs to agree on a precedent that is going to be automated. This is very important as making changes to the template’s legal content thought the process should be minimized, as it may affect the coding. Then legal engineers work with the legal to ensure the logic in the template is correct (questions link to correct outcomes in the document), the template goes through a number of testing stages, and once it is approved by the project manager (usually a partner), it goes live so other users can simply use the template and create documents, and even work collaboratively on document generation.
How do you think that document automation will boost the activities carried out in a law firm or in a legal department?
Legal document automation is one of the basic tools of Legal Tech but it is massively powerful. It allows lawyers to save about 70% time drafting their contracts versus manual drafting. It ensures the automated templates are always up to date, are compliant, and therefore risk-less. Furthermore, having automated templates in Italian is even more beneficial when you have to deal with the Italian articles (il, la, le, i, etc.) making it easy to introduce changes to your contract without going through it over and over again to spot any tiny grammatical error. Legal document automation marries the technology aspect and the legal aspect making contract drafting a pleasurable and time-efficient experience. That is why it is adopted by all major law firms and it keeps growing rapidly. I have heard a number of times lawyers saying that once you know how capable document automation is, you would not want to go back to manual drafting.
Forecasts: legaltech is in the mouth of a lot of people in the legal sector, right now. Do you see legal tech as a real thing that can have a real impact on clients and professionals, or it’s just hype? In other terms, will tech change, as an instrument, the job performed by lawyers or will create a new sector, new jobs in legal sectors?
In the past, there were two main legal career paths – an in-house lawyer and a private practice lawyer. These days, there is a plethora of alternative legal paths, including legal project managers, legal engineers, legal designers, and legal content creators, and I believe that is great. It goes to show that the legal industry is no longer focused purely on legal advice. While it is still the most important factor, there are so many other aspects of legal departments that need to be addressed, e.g. legal project management which allows for smarter case management keeping the client relationship in mind. This is also important from the strategic point of view – ensuring that firms deliver more value to the client, also means more revenue / higher profit margins, and in general – stronger relationships with clients. Legal service is no longer only about providing legal advice. Now clients want the full legal product delivery experience, and Legal Tech is a huge enabler of that.
Any hint you would like to share with us about legaltech?
Learn more about Legal Tech before your competitors will.
About Silvertown Legal
Silvertown Legal is focusing purely on delivering world-class Legal Tech Masterclass, training and mentoring to inspiring lawyers and legal professionals.
The start-up mission is to educate them and make them realize how powerful Legal Tech is – not only when it comes to leveraging our client’s internal work processes, but also as a standout factor that will attract more clients, and strengthen the lawyer’s reputation. For more information please go to: silvertownlegal.com
About Mat Jakubowski
Mat has decided to leave the traditional legal path, and pursue his passion in Legal Tech. In the past Mat used to work as a Legal Consultant for an international retail company in London, as well as, in Thomson Reuters, legal solution companies, and Dentons (world’s largest law firm) – these experiences have given Mat a unique blend of legal and technical skills needed to understand the bread and butter of the lawyer’s work (and how it can be simplified). On these foundations, Mat has established Silvertown Legal – to provide an accessible education of Legal Tech to all lawyers.
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