Innovation allows lawyers to focus on lawyering, said Head of Innovation, Komal Gupta
27 August 2020

Innovation allows lawyers to focus on lawyering, said Head of Innovation, Komal Gupta

Published on 27 August 2020

Komal Gupta has always been committed to embracing change. An Alternative Legal Service Provider (ALSP) veteran, Komal heads innovation for law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas (CAM), India’s largest full-service law firm.


“It is important to improve continuously to stay relevant,” said Komal. “My firm has always been ahead of the curve, driving change, and leading by example.  We believe that innovation is not limited to technology and that the best innovations come from within the firm.”


Innovation is about delivering value for clients


In her law firm, Komal takes a pragmatic approach to legal innovation.


“Innovation for us means bringing value to our clients by delivering quality legal services through a combination of people, process, and technology,” said Komal. “We use various technologies in the business and practice of law that make us efficient, improves productivity and accuracy and allows us to do more with less.  We are designing solutions for our clients with the help of both legaltech and process improvements.”


For Komal, this has given her the opportunity to explore her creative side and challenge herself to do things in different and better ways.


Chief among her predictions of coming innovations: new product-based solutions that segregate work based on expertise and involvement with a fixed fee, technologies that will help in better, cheaper, and faster access to justice, digitization and standardization.


“Fixed fees will become the new normal,” explained Komal. “By segregating work based on the level of expertise and involvement, lawyers can focus on lawyering. The rest of the work can be taken care of by technology, ALSPs and multi-disciplinary professionals.”


“Technology will thus help us expand globally, both in terms of talent and clients,” predicted Komal. “Our uptake of technology has encouraged greater cross border collaboration.”


“In addition, delays incumbent to the long-drawn cycle of receiving justice are likely to shorten.”


Failure to innovate biggest threat to legal professionals


For organisations that fail to innovate, Komal’s forecast was bleak.


“If the legal profession does not innovate, there is cause to worry,” said Komal. “In India, the adoption of tech is slower in the legal profession than other nations. We’ve seen an improvement in the last two years but not enough. Domestic talent needs to be encouraged to develop tech that is relevant to Indian lawyers and the lawyers themselves need to understand that technology is an enabler and not a threat.”


The lockdown necessitated by COVID-19 has encouraged some openness to change as lawyers embraced virtual meetings and virtual court hearings. There is a surge in contract management software and electronic signatures as well.


“Clients are requesting virtual meetings and interns are looking forward to a virtual internship program. For India, one big disruption will come with the complete digitization of courts and an increased selling of legal products, which will involve a combination of tech and legal services. 


“Clients are becoming more sophisticated and demanding, which will encourage innovative ways of creating value-based legal products,” said Komal.


“If you are doing all the right things - making advance preparations, being proactive in providing solutions to your clients, and empowering your talent with all the tools they need to perform their roles well, you are sure to grow and succeed.”


Innovation is likely to create new career paths.


“Alongside an increased acceptance of specialised talent - including data scientists, engineers, and pricing experts - new career opportunities will arise for lawyers in legaltech, data analytics, design thinking, innovation, and transformation,” predicted Komal. “This will lead to an increase in legaltech developers as consumption of legaltech services rise.”


Empowering new lawyers from Day 1


Lawyers need to closely consider the ‘why, what and how’ of legal innovation as they seek to embrace it.


“New lawyers are very smart and aware of the transformation in the legal profession,” said Komal. “My advice for them is to be independent from day one – they must not get carried away by the traditional ways of practicing law and should have an element of legaltech, design thinking, process mapping, creative pricing, teamwork, and collaboration in their approach.”


Komal praised the Centre for Legal Innovation (CLI) for bringing together the legal fraternity so lawyers can learn from each other, discuss and review innovation case studies, and upskill through further education.


“The CLI is a great platform that brings like-minded professionals together, across the globe,” said Komal. “I think CLI plays a significant role in cross border collaboration and knowledge sharing.  This is very important because we all need to learn from each other and share best practices.”


P.S. If you would like to see some of the amazing legaltech being developed in India through the CAM Incubator – Prarambh, please join CLI’s Legal Techy Tuesday virtual legaltech demo series - Showcase on India with Leegality on 1 September (register here) and LegalMind on 15 September (register here).