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LawHawk's Major Themes for 2024

Posted by Gene Turner on 14-Jan-2024 10:40:00

Crystal Ball in Fortune Tellers

Looking ahead to the coming year, I think (maybe with a bit of hope thrown in) several themes will be key. This is what we will be focussing on helping our customers with, and in our own business.

Cost savings

Particularly in the New Zealand Government context, we will see a greater emphasis on finding cost savings than has been the case for the past several years.

It was already evident in 2023 when it became clear the Government was changing that savings would need to be found. At a World Commerce & Contracting event I attended in late November, many Government procurement participants discussed the need to find 6.5% savings (a number the new Government has targeted).

All I would say is that in the areas we operate in, 6.5% is nowhere near what is possible for time and cost savings, so I hope it's seen as a minimum, not a target or a cap, because there's a lot more that can be done to enable better outcomes.

Focus on outcomes

Rather than start with inputs, we must focus more on the desired outcomes and how to get them.

Existing technology shouldn't be the answer to every question if it can't deliver the outcomes that a lower-cost alternative could.

We should stop throwing money and people at problems and wondering why things are not improving.

Let's start by identifying ambitious targets we want to achieve and then work out how to achieve them.

The speed of change will only increase further

While 2023 was the year people became familiar with the concept of generative AI, in 2024, we'll see many more use cases emerge as it becomes widely available and built into solutions that people use to do their work.

This will be accelerated further by the rapid rise of no-code and low-code technology like Workato and Outsystems across organisations.

As more and more solutions are using no-code/low-code platforms with AI and integrating with each other, the speed of change, the impact on how we work, and the outcomes we can produce will only increase further.

Changing is coming, and organisations will need to lean into it, not resist it.

Shared Services and Collaboration

This has been a big goal of mine for years, as we've seen how often an individual organisation thinks they have unique problems, but actually, they've got the same problem that everyone else in the same industry does.

Because they don't compete on how they carry out industry-standard processes, there's no obvious reason why they shouldn't collaborate, most likely through industry bodies, on finding better ways to carry out those activities.

A big one we are progressing for 2024 is in the construction space, where the new NZS:3910 construction contract was published in November 2023. There's already been a lot of industry collaboration to reach this point, but it can go to a new level. We've already automated a version of it alongside one of New Zealand's leading construction law firms and an IT company with expertise in broader business process automation and integration. We can integrate and configure it (including special conditions) for individual customers. Existing NZS3910 users are going to have to change their contracts and processes anyway – the question is whether they want to go it alone and incur all the costs of designing (and maybe automating) their own solution or leverage a solution that has the best legal, the best automation, and the best ongoing support for a much lower overall cost.

If you are interested in finding out more about what we are doing in relation to NZS:3910, and construction more generally, please get in touch. Now is the time to talk about what options might be available. 

There are many other opportunities for collaborative approaches – particularly involving local and central Government and industry bodies. We have to stop reinventing the wheel every time.


We have a productivity crisis in New Zealand, working longer hours but producing less.

Productivity Image 1


Our economy has gone from one of the most productive in the OECD to one of the least productive.

While the Productivity Commission highlights innovation as the engine of growth, it focuses too much on research and development.

We don't need to invent new things; we need to use the already available and well-proven technology to make frequent, small and effective improvements.

The first 50% of savings will be the most impactful and easiest to gather. We need to start taking the easy wins (see earlier comment about 6.5% being too small a goal).


We need to stop seeking silver bullets and massive transformations that take years to design and never get going.

If everyone is clear on the direction of travel (strategy), there can be many small things that individuals and teams can work on to get there. Not everything will work, and that's to be expected. Learning along the way will help to focus efforts on things that do work.

Regulations are going to change – again – and businesses will need to be able to adjust their business processes more rapidly to ensure they are compliant but also that they are taking advantage of opportunities to grow their businesses, hire more people, pay more taxes, and help lift our economy. This will require investigating low-code technologies designed with this agility in mind. Expensive legacy systems, which are slow to modify and challenging to integrate, will need to be looked at in terms of whether they add value or are a handbrake on the organisation, locking in yesterday's practices.

When evaluating new solutions, we must be more thoughtful about how we do it. Rather than single huge procurements, put more work upfront into investigating options and doing smaller, low-risk trials. Use discovery workshops and "sprint zeros" to define and refine requirements and prove what works before going all-in. For those not required to use formal procurement, develop ongoing and mutually rewarding relationships with suppliers you trust who are incentivised to bring you ongoing innovation.

For those required to use formal procurement, investigate lean-agile procurement as an option. https://esby.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/Guide-to-Lean-Agile-Procurement-by-Esby-and-Co-and-Nomad8.pdf


There will likely be more tension between those wanting to work from home and those employers who want to see people back in the office more. I always work from home and love it, so I'll stay out of that debate.

What I am interested in, though, is that customers don't want to have to visit their suppliers in person anymore. They want options to do it online. We see it in our business, whether through people using our will and enduring power of attorney solutions to prepare their own documents from the comfort of their homes or using an online intake form to give a law firm all the information the firm needs to do it for them. In-house teams are using online intake forms and self-service to make it easy for business clients to give them all the information required or do the whole thing themselves within the safety of a system legal have designed.

Law firms can embed their knowledge and best practices directly into their client's business systems and processes, creating massive value for clients and revenue for the law firm without requiring a single billable hour.

Businesses that make it easy for their clients to interact with them where and how best to meet the client's needs have considerable opportunities to grow their revenue at much greater rates than their costs.


All this automation will create a lot of data.

It will take a while for people to work out what they want to do with it, and only some will be relevant, but there will be a lot more structured data available to enable better and more timely decision-making for those who want to use it.

The need for humans to continuously re-enter the same information into emails, word documents and Excel spreadsheets will be significantly reduced.

It will help significantly ensure legal compliance and demonstrate compliance in real time if required.

A lot of the data that will add the most value to the business can come from legal teams and the processes they are associated with (e.g. contracting and regulatory compliance).

Legal's ability to add strategic value to the business and drive greater business outcomes and value has never been better.

Greater amounts of data will also necessitate even greater levels of security to ensure it is kept safe.

What are your thoughts about the year ahead?

Topics: Practise of Law, Future of Law, Document Automation, Legal Technology, Law Firm Management, Compliance, Legal Operations, Contract Management, Law Firm Strategy, Productivity

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