The global pandemic has made mental health a forefront concern around the world. For Alex Tovitz, GC of global virtual behavioral healthcare company AbleTo, it has helped show the value of legal tech in a new light.

The intersection of technology and health is truly fascinating. AbleTo, a leading provider of virtual behavioral healthcare, proves there is a hugely important role for technology to play in providing healthcare, but working out the right blend of technology and in-person connection is an important aspect to the successful delivery of this care.

Our technology can be used to assist people in finding the right therapy and programmes, and when it comes to behavioural healthcare people’s reliance on technology is only going to increase. Our telehealth tools strengthen the relationship between our therapist and our patients in a safe digital space.

Our services consist of a number of licensed therapists that provide virtual behaviour therapy to individuals and businesses. During the pandemic our company grew significantly. The strain of lockdown caused many people to turn to online health services in a way we had never seen before.

Given the centrality of tech to our offering, it is no surprise that our work in the legal team is also heavily reliant on technology to deliver service to the business. For example, we have been working with a number of vendors to implement a new contract management platform. Making all contract work digital will be our next step as a growing organisation.

We also operate a very distributed legal team, with professionals based everywhere from Florida to Texas and upstate New York. To be efficient with that set-up you need to coordinate effectively, and tech tools – even fairly simple ones like Google Docs – are essential in allowing the team to share documents and stay connected.

However, it is the not so simple tools that offer the most exciting possibilities. When I first started practicing law over 20 years ago, I could not have predicted where we are today when it comes to legal technology. The legal tech space is growing and there is really a wealth of options on the market now.

For any lawyer that is midway through their career, getting comfortable with technology and change is very important. I started my career in litigation and a large part of the job was manually looking up case law. A lot of what I did was stamping, numbering and producing documents. Just last year I was handling some legal matters and I could see how much legal tech has made the practice of law more streamlined and efficient.

This pace of change will continue and it will have a transformational impact on in-house teams. While artificial intelligence has been hyped for a long time, it is clear that practical applications now exist. Certainly, algorithms are being created that not only assist with contract management, but also generate basic legal advice. It is inconceivable that such tools will not be used to help improve team efficiency over the coming years.

Another interesting emerging technology is blockchain, AI and smart contracts. How quickly these spaces develop are yet to be determined. Nevertheless, I believe legal technology is bound to change the practice of law within the next ten years. Attorneys – including myself – should continue to embrace the change that comes with legal tech.

This is a potential danger for the career stability of lawyers – after all, in an already crowded market the last thing a lawyer wants to hear is that technology will make large parts of the job redundant. However, for general counsel, and perhaps also for professional advisers of all kinds, it is an intriguing opportunity.

If tech can be used to reduce administrative work, and all the signs are that it can be used very effectively to do this, then more time can be spent on legal analysis and strategic legal work. Any form of technology that helps lawyers represent their clients more effectively and efficiently should be embraced. This is where I see legal technology making the biggest impact.

One of our top priorities at AbleTo when it comes to technology is privacy and protecting the health data of our users. Making sure we have the right privacy infrastructure is not only a legal imperative, but also a business one. Our participants share very personal data on our platform, and we work very hard to ensure it remains private and secure. I have a dedicated chief privacy officer who works to ensure this data remains secure. We also need to make sure we are compliant with all national and state laws when it comes to data protection.

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