Since 2013, biotech and pharmaceutical company Eleusis has been working to transform psychedelics into modern medicines. For general counsel Paul Slattery, the rise of legal tech has been a mind enhancing experience.
At Eleusis, we are developing a care delivery platform
capable of enhancing the safety and tolerability of
psychedelic drug therapies and enabling their broad
accessibility. That is a big step in medicine and getting there
will involve a lot of complex work, including selecting the
patient population, ensuring safety and tolerability of therapies,
monitoring patients undergoing treatment and working out
what treatment optimization looks like for patients.
As general counsel I oversee a lot of translational challenges in
the clinical development of psychedelics, both in the context of
psychiatry and in the delivery of care. Making sure our delivery
of care is compliant with health care law is an important part of
As a legal team we are highly reliant on technology, it is key to
our business operations. For instance, our entire calendaring
system is digital so we can monitor our patent portfolio,
regulatory planning and submissions. We also use a tracking
system that both creates an audit trail, whilst tracking everything that needs to be done. By going digital we ensure that
nothing falls through the cracks and that all tasks are divided
and managed by our internal team.
Additionally, our legal team makes extensive use of DocuSign, a
popular eSignature platform. We work on a lot of non-disclosure
agreements (NDAs) that are sent to people across the world. By
using the DocuSign platform, we can do it with ease. Documents
are easily and efficiently reviewed and signed irrespective of
location. As e-signatures become more widely used, I hope that
we will see regulatory bodies start to embrace this technology.
For any GC working in the tech sector, networking with other
in-house leaders is hugely important. I am part of an invitation
only networking group called Tech GC. This is an independent
community of general counsel from emerging growth companies
that come together to discuss and share best practice. Members
of the group are able to access a library full of presentations
and other useful in-house legal documents. They can also
connect with other GCs who may be facing similar challenges.
Although the companies we represent are typically working
on highly experimental projects, you can almost always find
someone who is dealing with or has dealt with the issues you
It is evident that the pandemic has shifted the sands under
people’s feet and technological innovation has changed the way
people think and feel about their professions. Before, people
selected where they lived, got married, had children and set
up their homes based on where they work. As remote work
becomes more mainstream, this will change.
For in-house legal teams in particular, dispersion is a good
thing. It allows around the clock coverage for global companies
that need to communicate across time zones. Although I
joined Eleusis during the pandemic, I was stepping into an
environment that was already used to remote working and
dispersed teams. For instance, I am based in Los Angeles,
my deputy is based in New York, we have a paralegal in
Florida – this type of structure would have been unthinkable
a few years ago.
While technology is at the heart of such agile working, it can
have its downsides. Being so digitally connected means you
can work from anywhere in the world, but it also means the
line between home and work becomes blurred. It can be very
difficult to switch off or focus on other tasks, and there is a
real temptation to continue working.
Nevertheless, the advantages of tech are clear, and
technological innovation will further improve legal services
and boost efficiency within legal teams. Technology could
also be used to automate standardised contracts and NDAs.
I have reviewed thousands of NDAs and there is an immense
amount of arbitrary variation to get the same six terms. I
often wonder if AI could assist with assessing and creating
standardised NDA agreements. I am sure I won’t have to wait
long to find out that it can. And, in spite of all the advances
we’ve seen in legal tech, there is still a lot of headroom for
new tools to automate basic tasks and help make legal
departments more efficient.
These days, when people refer to a ‘technology company’
they are often referring to the application of tech to other
sectors. For example, take Lime, the scooter rental service.
Is this a transportation company or a tech company? Almost
every industry at this point has been touched by technology
in some way and the impact of new emerging technology
will continue to have an impact in the future.