Home / BlogWhy I left a global investment bank for a New Zealand legaltech startup

LawHawk Blog

Why I left a global investment bank for a New Zealand legaltech startup

Posted by Allen Li on 11-Jan-2017 08:00:00

Standing on Pier - Web.jpg


“With LawHawk, I see an opportunity to provide the tools to close the gap between what the client expects from its lawyers and what the lawyers can deliver.  Even better, there is an opportunity to allow lawyers to exceed expectations.”  

I had a role I enjoyed with a global investment bank in London, one of the financial centres of the world.  I gave it up to take a position with a little known legaltech startup on the other side of the world, trying to solve complex problems that others haven't been able to.  Here's why.  

I love problem solving and the value of stewardship.  I love the idea of leaving things better than when I found it.  

In my most recent role at a global investment bank in London, I gained the most satisfaction from putting in place usable processes to save time and reduce risk across the bank.  I also particularly enjoyed collaborating with, and learning from, team members.  It was incredibly rewarding helping other employees across the bank on matters that I had particular expertise in.  On the other hand, I gained diminishing satisfaction from negotiating and explaining the same points over and over from transaction to transaction.  

In private practice in New Zealand, I particularly enjoyed preparing highly customised agreements to reflect the commercial intentions of the relevant parties.  I saw real value and skill in that.  On the other hand, I didn’t particularly enjoy the monotony of preparing cookie-cutter transactional documents.  In many cases, I felt these jobs were like data entry roles, but with greater risk. 

With LawHawk, I see an opportunity to change the way organisations work in a positive and meaningful way.  I see an opportunity to help employees concentrate on the parts of their roles that are most enjoyable and skilled to do, while streamlining and (potentially) removing the parts that are not.  I’ve seen first hand how successful document automation can be in London, and I know it will help organisations in New Zealand, too. 

At the moment, there’s something not quite right about how lawyers work (whether that be in private practice or in-house).  Having been on both sides of the lawyer/client relationship, there is often a mismatch between what the client expects and what the lawyer can deliver.  From a client’s perspective, lawyers should be able to turn something around quickly and at a cost relative to the complexity and value added.  Clients expect that their lawyers have the tools and processes in place to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.  In reality, lawyers are working more hours than ever.  They are forced to do this, as their templates and processes are all over the show and knowledge isn’t freely shared between colleagues.  Sadly, this daily pain is rarely enough incentive to do something to change this.  When it comes to year-end, private practice lawyers are rewarded for hours worked, not hours saved.   In-house lawyers are rewarded for fires fought, not fires prevented.  Lawyers simply can’t work as fast as they are expected to. 

Another mismatch between client expectations and lawyer reality is what constitutes quality.  From experience, internal clients (in front office, especially) will have speed as their number one requirement.  It’s as if they assume that every lawyer will eventually get to the same result, so the distinguishing benchmark for quality is speed.  For the in-house lawyers out there, how many times have you been praised for doing the most simple task quickly?  On the other hand, how many times has there been a noticeable lack of appreciation for completing a very difficult task (in your mind) very well?  I’m guessing the answer to both questions may be more often than you think is deserved.  

With LawHawk, I see an opportunity to provide the tools to close the gap between what the client expects from its lawyers and what the lawyers can deliver.  Even better, there is an opportunity to allow lawyers to exceed expectations.    

Of course, lawyers aren’t the only people within organisations generating documents.  In fact, some of the most significant document generators are probably those in an organisation’s procurement or project management teams.  While it’s a part of their job, it’s not necessarily the part they enjoy or are good at.  Perhaps their real skill and passion is in human interaction and /or understanding of commerce - yet, they are required to spend hours per day preparing documents.  With LawHawk, I see a huge opportunity to help these individuals spend more time on the parts they add most value.  It makes social and economic sense.  Specialisation and division of labour are concepts introduced in ECON101.  Document generation is not everyone’s speciality, so the economic basis for requiring these people to spend so much of their time doing so is weak.  It’s a time and money wasting exercise. 

And this is the point:  two of the biggest problems we all face is a lack of time and money.  I love to problem solve and I love to leave things better than when I found it.  Technology is giving me and LawHawk the opportunity to do that in an appreciable way.  At LawHawk, I hope to work with organisations who want to improve both their bottom line and the happiness of their employees. 

We’d love to discuss your organisation’s plans for 2017 - please get in touch and allow us to help you prepare documents faster 



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

Subscribe to the Blog