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What’s on the minds of New Zealand in-house lawyers?

Posted by Allen Li on 01-Jun-2017 09:46:50


In my last blog, I discussed how suppliers to in-house lawyers must understand the needs of in-house lawyers, before being able to effectively help them.  Over two days and three evenings at ILANZ 2017, I realised that this requirement to understand is ongoing.  New Zealand in-house lawyers are an evolving bunch who continue to learn themselves.  So what did I take away?

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Topics: Practise of Law, Future of Law, Document Automation, In-House Legal

Help!  I’m in-house! Legal tech needs for in-house lawyers

Posted by Allen Li on 21-May-2017 20:35:46

At the conclusion of New Zealand legal technology conference LawFest, one attendee said to me that a lot of the legal tech offerings seem to be targeted at private practice lawyers and there is a lack of understanding of the different needs of in-house lawyers.  Does he have a point? 

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Topics: Document Automation, Legal Technology, In-House Legal, Document Assembly

What does a great outcome with legaltech look like?

Posted by Allen Li on 14-May-2017 15:52:47

You may have seen me talk about using legaltech to achieve great outcomes.  You may have nodded your head in agreement. After all, who wouldn’t agree that getting a great result is, well, great?  But what does this actually mean?  

There are a lot of legaltech options out there.  If you’ve tried one piece of legaltech, and been left feeling like the guy on the right, you’re not alone.  This happens all too often.  With so many providers (sometimes appearing to offer the same solution), you have to find one that can solve problems you have, in the way that suits you, in the way they said they would.  Don’t part with your money or your time, until you know this will be the case.

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Topics: Practise of Law, Legal Guides, Future of Law, Document Automation, Procurement, Legal Technology, In-House Legal, Document Assembly, Law Firm Management

Legal document automation is really a thing

Posted by Gene Turner on 11-May-2017 15:35:36


Just under a year ago when I launched LawHawk, in an interview with LawTalk I said that “Document automation will be the way lawyers work – the key is how you will do it.” 

I also said “I know people have been saying ‘change is coming’ for years without it happening, but this time it really is.”

“Yeah right!” a lot of lawyers would have said. 

But things really are changing quickly in this space, and you can see this in the exhibitors at LawFest, New Zealand’s leading legal technology conference. This year there will be three specialist document automation solutions that I am aware of, none of which were available in New Zealand this time last year.  Automation of legal documents is becoming mainstream. It is happening, even if you cannot see it, as this example demonstrates. 

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Topics: Practise of Law, Future of Law, Document Automation, Document Assembly, legal practice, Law Firm Management

How do your lawyers price their work?

Posted by Gene Turner on 09-May-2017 09:26:58

A lot of my recent blogs have suggested clients should look at how their lawyers work and ask questions, like what systems do they have? What training do they do to ensure they provide the best levels of service? 

This week I want to look at the related topic of pricing.  I say related topic, because the pricing options a law firm can offer will depend heavily on the systems they have.  A firm that has not invested in good systems is unlikely to be able to offer transparent and certain pricing. 

Perhaps reflecting this lack of investment in systems, many lawyers still use hourly rate billing and loose estimates of cost based on time that will be spent (e.g. $3,000 to $5,000...), which is inherently unsatisfactory for clients as it contains little incentive to be efficient and can often lead to nasty bill shocks (e.g. $7,000) at the end of the matter when the lawyer advises that it took longer than they thought it would.

To try and get good value, clients often focus on discounts to the hourly rate, which does not solve the problem if the number of hours is open ended. The firm could just throw 5 people onto a simple job, as in this example

Pricing in this way can be a complete finger in the air, where not only would different lawyers within a firm be likely to charge different amounts for the same piece of work, but the same lawyer could charge different amounts on a different day.  Isn't that bizarre? 

Firms that can give greater clarity and certainty on pricing - while still giving good outcomes and not taking shortcuts - should be rewarded by clients. But, for that to happen, clients have to look beyond hourly rates and ask the right questions.  

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Topics: Document Automation, In-House Legal, Document Assembly, legal practice

Let the Free New Zealand Will Continue!

Posted by Gene Turner on 01-May-2017 10:56:36



A month ago LawHawk and Succeed Legal released a free will that anyone in New Zealand can use.  You can read more about this in this earlier post: Half of Kiwis over 18 don't have a will - what are we going to do about it?

We decided we would run the free will as a trial through to 30 April to begin with, as we wanted to be sure that it would work well in practice, and there weren’t any issues we hadn’t foreseen.  Well, a month in we are very happy with how it has gone and have decided to keep it going.

In this blog, I look at what our objectives were and the extent to which they were achieved.  In particular, I look at the current and future role of lawyers in relation to drafting and advising on wills and how that could change when the drafting has been automated.

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Topics: Document Automation, Document Assembly, legal practice, Online Will, Wills

What can we learn from emerging legal best practices from London?

Posted by Allen Li on 26-Apr-2017 08:59:41

“Not surprisingly (in hindsight, at least), his first initiative was to implement document automation.  This was almost eight years ago!”

Over half a year on from leaving London, I ask myself:  what did I learn from my time in London?  Perhaps I can best answer this question by first asking myself: what did I expect?  Global market-leading bank, hundreds of years old, based in London - everything must go faster and run more efficiently than in little New Zealand, right?  Well, sort of.

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Topics: Document Automation, Procurement, Legal Technology, Document Assembly

Do I need a will?

Posted by Gene Turner on 15-Apr-2017 15:16:16

As I noted in my earlier blog (Half of Kiwis over 18 don’t have a will – what are we going to do about it?), a lot of New Zealanders don't have wills.  It's not really clear why that is, but one reason is that a lot of people think they haven't got enough assets to make it worthwhile.

With the growth of KiwiSaver balances, that is often not the case.  Average KiwiSaver balances are now approaching $15,000, which is the threshold for administration of an estate without a will.  Above that figure, and the family has to go to court to have someone appointed as the administrator.  Stuff recently drew attention to this issue, and also to the free will that we recently launched with Matt Hay.

You see see the Stuff story here, or read it in full below. You can try the free will here.

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Topics: Document Automation, Document Assembly, Wills, Estates, KiwiSaver

Baby boomers and millennials – can’t we all just get along?

Posted by Allen Li on 11-Apr-2017 14:13:52

“It’s those with the most experience that can contribute the most knowledge to new technologies.”  

There’s been a lot of press in New Zealand recently about the growing division between the baby boomers and millennials/gen Y.  For example, Bill English has said the age of eligibility for superannuation will rise to 67 from 2037 (i.e. it won’t directly affect the baby boomers).  For a few years now, the house prices in the most popular areas of NZ have been out of reach of most millennials.  This blog isn’t intended to discuss the economic and social arguments behind these situations we find ourselves in.  I am, however, interested in how the stereotypical differences in mindsets between the generations can make innovation tricky within organisations.  How do we get the best outcomes, in light of these differences?

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Topics: Future of Law, Document Automation, Legal Technology, Document Assembly

Half of Kiwis over 18 don’t have a will – what are we going to do about it?

Posted by Gene Turner on 26-Mar-2017 16:02:18

In 2012 it was reported, based on a Public Trust survey, that over half of New Zealanders over the age of 18 don’t have a will! Since that time it appears little has changed, as Public Trust referred to the same statistic in its 2016 Annual Report. It’s even worse for younger people, where 66% of 25 to 39 year olds don’t have a will.

Given that wills are so important, how can this be?

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Topics: Practise of Law, Document Automation, Document Assembly, Online Will

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