Going digital has always been a top priority of Olga Rodstein but finding the right tools has been more difficult. Now, she says, legal tech is finally ready to enter the mainstream
have always been an early adopter of legal tech and have
embraced new technology from very early in my career.
Before joining BrightSign, I was a litigator in a commercial
disputes and property team. I would often move between
New York and Silicon Valley, the global centre for tech
and innovation. It is no surprise that when I decided to
shift my career to in-house, I was destined for the tech
I now lead legal operations at BrightSign, a global company
that specialises in digital signage media players. Like many
companies, BrightSign was hit hard by the pandemic.
Fortunately, as an organisation we were very innovative
and were able to pivot our business operations and create
solutions. For example, many of our applications became
touchless. We implemented QR codes and voice recognition
technology to make our tech Covid safe. Although business has
picked up again and we are able to revert to working with more
traditional digital signage, touchless solutions will remain the
way of the future.
In the last few years, I have seen an explosion of new legal
tech apps that have made a positive impact on in-house legal
departments. New technology has enabled general counsel to
maximise efficiency whilst minimising costs, enabling general
counsel to keep legal teams lean.
At BrightSign, we use a range of legal technology to improve
our own legal operations. We have embraced applications such
as DocuSign, Box and other contract management tools. Before
lockdown, I had made it a priority to digitalise and organise all
contracts by storing them in the cloud. This made the transition
to home working very smooth for everyone.
Legal tech has come a long way. In just two years, it has
undergone a transformation in utility.
It is amazing how efficient our legal operations have become
with the introduction of the right type of technology. For
instance, by storing documents in the cloud team members
are no longer bogged down in finding or filing legal
documents. If you need to share a document, you do
not even need to email it. You can just send a link and if
you no longer want them to have that contract, you can
disable the link. This has made sharing confidential
documents even more secure.
Technology has also made collaboration more efficient.
Documents in the cloud can be edited by different departments
easily. People from different areas of the business, such as
finance, can share their comments on a particular contract
effortlessly. This collaborative approach has transformed legal
Going digital has also been great for the environment.
Technology today has made legal documents more easily
stored and accessible. By embracing electronic filing, titles and
images of documents can be scanned by a simple search. This
is particularly useful if you are looking for a clause or sentence
in a large contract. Legal tech eliminates cutter and the need to
organise physical files.
Electronic signature technology has been incredible.
Documents no longer need to be printed and can be signed
from your phone. Within our legal team we try not to print
documents to reduce our paper usage.
Although I am a big believer in legal tech applications, GCs need
to be honest with themselves that not all tech is useful. As
general counsel, you have to be smart about which application
you choose to use. You should never blindly rely on technology,
as applications are designed by humans, and humans are prone
to error. For example, we use a HR compliance tool and even
though it is great we have to ensure that its functions comply
with California law. The application could be designed to meet
the legal requirements of another state or jurisdiction, so
blindingly trusting an application can be problematic.
That means the human oversight piece will never vanish
from the picture, but the likely trend is that legal teams will
continue to become leaner. It is a major cost saving benefit for
companies to auto-mate labour intensive tasks such as filing or
locating contracts. As a result, corporate lawyers will be able
to spend their time focusing on more sophisticated legal work.
For the future I am exploring tech applications such as Ironclad,
Parley Pro and other existing contract software. The future
is digital and the potential for legal tech to move business
operations forward are limitless.