There are few who have seen the evolution of legal technology from all corners of the legal industry. But those who worked with and deployed such technology in law firms, legal departments and service providers have come to understand that the opportunities legal technology brings and the challenges it creates are universal, no matter where one works.
Chase D’Agostino knows this first hand. A former associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, D’Agostino next served as commercial counsel at Colgate-Palmolive Co., where he was responsible for procuring legal tech solutions, building vendor relations and designing and implementing contract solutions.
Recently, D’Agostino left the corporate legal world to become executive director of corporate solutions at legal service provider QuisLex. Legaltech News caught up with D’Agostino to discuss insights he gained over his long career managing, designing and promoting legal technology, and why he thinks legal’s unavoidable tech-centric future shouldn’t keep attorneys up at night:
LTN: You have worked at a law firm, in corporate legal, and are now working in the third-party legal services industry. Why make the move from practicing legal to supporting legal technology?
CD: I would characterize it more as enabling and supporting the practice of law in a more efficient and effective way. Spelling out the factors a lawyer is using to make a decision and building a technology-driven process to support that decision can free up the lawyer’s time for more strategic initiatives and reduce costs of legal services to the company. A dollar saved on legal is a dollar that can be redeployed back into the business and that is exciting to me. Seeing how legal can go from a cost center to a business driver. Pushing the envelope and asking, “But why, and why not that instead?”
Do you believe the legal industry’s tech future is set in stone?
I think it is set in stone at this point. However, you can’t solve all your problems with technology. The trick is to find the technologies that make sense for your business and legal department. In terms of challenges for the industry to adjust … regardless of what legal technology is out there, I think a good lawyer will always have a place, whether at a law firm, in a corporate setting or at an alternative legal service provider. Lawyers are going to have to take on new challenges, fill new and different roles in the overall delivery of legal services and learn some new tricks, but there will always be a need.
What challenges does one face designing, implementing and managing contract management systems?
The first challenge may be making the internal business case to move away from a legacy provider. This can take time, but picking the right technology that aligns with your requirements is critical. Keeping up with timelines, watching out for scope creep, getting ahead of change management and innovating around technology limitations are critical.
Managing competing interests and ensuring that everyone feels like their ideas and concerns were considered will pay dividends when it comes to user adoption. You also need to find folks that have experience and knowledge of both the technology and the legal substance. Often lawyers are afraid of technology—saying, “I am just the lawyer in the room, I don’t have to know how it works”—and technology vendors are afraid of legalese.