January 31, 2022
Our Head of Legal & Product, Jake Foster, explains how technology holds the key to restoring wellbeing in the legal industry.
January 31, 2022
The traditional answer from law firms has been blunt: more money and a couple of firm-sponsored mindfulness sessions. In practice, this is usually no more than a sticking plaster for the underlying issues: most lawyers (whether in-house or in private practice) face short deadlines, enormous volumes of documentation and demanding internal and external clients, all of which can have a deeply adverse impact on a lawyer’s general wellbeing. The vast majority of legal professionals enter their careers bright-eyed with an excellent academic record and a positive ‘can-do’ attitude, so this unfortunate and all-too-common outcome is a major problem for both the individual lawyer and their organisation.
The basics of a lawyer’s role are intrinsically stimulating, involving intellectually challenging issues and dealing with constantly shifting relationships and power dynamics. However, too often a lawyer’s original love of these aspects of their role can be overwhelmed by the need to do too much, with too little, in too short a period of time. Technology is often (rightly) cited as a major culprit in this; far from becoming a tool which has driven more enlightened ways of working, the ability to communicate instantly across the globe has increased pressures on employees across many industries, and none more so than law.
As with most forms of medicine, prevention is better than cure. All the yoga sessions in the world won’t turn a frazzled corporate lawyer into a happy, rested and creative member of the team unless the underlying issues are addressed. The surest way to enhance a lawyer’s life (at least professionally!) is to ensure that they have the tools needed to simplify and expedite the more repetitive aspects of their job, in order to help them focus on the strategic, operational and legal areas which are professionally interesting and value-accretive for their organisation. Since so much of a transactional lawyer’s job involves reviewing, revising and negotiating similar documents on a regular basis, there is a clear need for a solution that can help a lawyer process documentation at a faster rate while maintaining high levels of accuracy and consistency.
Traditional legal technology solutions have focused on creating platforms for gathering contracts, or searching within individual documents for pre-defined words and phrases. With recent advances in Artificial Intelligence, and in particular the development of sophisticated natural language processing models, technology is becoming increasingly capable of taking the burden of identifying issues within legal contracts and revising (or suggesting revisions) to relevant clauses. Robin AI’s unique core service offering for clients does just this, allowing them to rely on Robin’s proprietary systems and legal experts to process and deliver contracts which have been reviewed, revised and negotiated to the same high standard that a law firm or financial institution would expect of their legal team, and usually with a faster turnaround time!
Professionals of all descriptions are seeking greater flexibility in their working patterns, along with an increased focus on getting the most out of their careers. A brilliant lawyer can be (and often has been) used by organisations simply as an expensive risk-mitigation device, but by freeing that lawyer so that they can apply their energy to broader commercial and strategic issues, Robin’s solutions can help unlock real value for lawyers and their organisation.
With more effective tools at their disposal, lawyers will be empowered to break free of the more mundane aspects of their roles, applying creative solutions to decisions which are mission-critical to their organisations. In addition, Robin’s products enable legal and deal teams to work remotely in a way that chimes with the modern shift towards flexible working practices.
For example, Robin’s searchable library product, Queryable Contracts, provides organisations with a cloud-hosted facility to capture, organise and search vast quantities of documents which might have previously lived only in one team member’s email inbox or C: drive.
No longer will a junior lawyer be required to trawl through thousands of poorly-categorised emails or file folders to find a single contract – that time will be far better spent conducting crucial research, pursuing new client leads or training others in their organisation.
While Robin’s product offering aims to lead the way in promoting lawyer wellbeing through the use of technology, Robin is also putting into practice certain concepts which historically have been little embraced in the legal industry. Chief among these are flexible but well-defined working practices (being rigid enough to withstand the constant intrusion of electronic communication in lawyers’ lives, but flexible enough to permit lawyers to do their best work regardless of where or when they choose to work) and a focus on developing other skillsets seen historically as ‘non-traditional’, such as sales or tech development.
It is perhaps unsurprising that the mental and physical wellbeing of highly intelligent individuals is closely linked to the variety of work and experiences they are able to pursue regularly, so Robin encourages its lawyers to explore other interesting aspects of its business as frequently as possible. Of course, client care is paramount, and since lawyers tend to feel real satisfaction when their clients succeed with their help, broadening a lawyer’s skillset can be a shortcut to boosting their engagement with (and enjoyment of) their work.
Together, new technologies and a greater focus on working practices which are better attuned to individuals’ professional and social interests can help restore a focus on wellbeing in an industry which has somewhat lost its way. Robin AI is proud to be making great progress in both respects, and, as the company continues to grow and experience success with clients and its product development roadmap, is directly benefiting from a holistic investment in its lawyers’ wellbeing. A straw poll of the Legal and Product team suggests that few of our lawyers would turn down a free yoga class with colleagues, but happily it’s not the only trick in Robin’s repertoire!