‘An exciting time to be a lawyer’: Innovation consultant Anna Lozynski on in-house legaltech

A lawyer’s mindset is everything.

That’s what Anna Lozynski believes. She’s a former executive and General Counsel at a multinational FMCG company turned legal innovation consultant and influencer.

Anna’s the author of Legally Innovative and is a champion of ‘new age lawyering’.

She advocates for legal teams, particularly in-house teams, to embrace legaltech since “efficiency will never go out of fashion” and because it’s part of the job, especially in the 2020s.   

Why do you think digital transformation among in-house teams isn’t moving as fast as it could?

It’s actually a complex question, which I often ponder.

Transformation isn’t “quick”; a legal ops strategy takes time and ongoing attention to implement, but importantly to maintain adoption. 

It requires a cultural shift, a commitment to prioritise innovation, and being comfortable with being an expert and a beginner at the same time. 

Our legal grooming doesn’t necessarily prepare us to have  a progressive mindset, manage transformation, focus on return-on investment (ROI)  and run the function like a business. 

The modern General Counsel is not necessarily just doing the work, but is actually stepping back and looking at the operational function, and continuously improving and reiterating the perennial question: How is the team adding value?

One of the strategic drivers of legaltech innovation is efficiency and speed, which can lead to significant ROI – whether that’s saving the business and the legal team time, or saving dollars because you’re not having to outsource to outside counsel.

We’re also in a landscape where, according to the 2021 EY survey, 75% of General Counsels are having difficulty handling current workloads, and budget pressures are escalating. 

“Put technology behind a problem that is highly visible and … talked about as a problem.”
– Anna Lozynski, Legally Innovative Consultant

How can in-house teams do more with less?

Look at what the team is doing, why, and the risk. How can you manage all of it better? Differently? Or not at all?

What does the big picture look like, versus the tasks for the day, week or month ahead? There’s a fair bit of wastage occurring in legal teams, and little quantitative data to inform decisions and effort allocation. 

Be creative with funding too. IT has big budgets, as do certain business units. If you can demonstrate ROI in investing in technology to support a business process, and also enhance the external experience for the business’ stakeholders, then you might not have to ‘cut’ legal budgets, head count or outside counsel spend to fund a tech investment. 

Raise your IQ2.0 – your Innovation Intelligence. Some categories of legaltech are more affordable than legal teams assume. 

When I think of certain categories of legaltech, they are potentially cheaper than hiring a human and more efficient. To balance that, in my last role we increased the team headcount by 400% as we invested in legal technology. It allowed us to become more streamlined and organised in the way we solved more complex problems. 

Teams should also implement boundaries. Business stakeholders are making choices about priorities all the time. Legal teams can actually do the same by operating within an agreed risk framework that’s signed off by the executive team, in what IT service management company Gartner describes as truly carrying out one’s General Counsel title. 

There’s also an element of marketing and sales. At law school, you don’t get taught how to sell a product or service, but I think in-house teams, like law firms, are geared up to understand that to demonstrate value, you need to be able to sell these tools in order to get the adoption at the level the product deserves.

Business stakeholders have a sharp focus on revenue. Legal teams can emulate this mindset by being sharply focused on efficiency.

The word ‘hustle’ comes to mind! Don’t give up easily. 

How should in-house teams approach automation? 

My hot tip around this is to put technology behind a problem that is highly visible and highly talked about as a problem in the business, whether that’s a high volume of agreements, or because your external customers are expecting something digitised. 

When you read legal ops handbooks, they’ll say, ‘Automate your NDAs – that’s the first thing you should do’. The NDA is universal, but that may not be the biggest pain point for the business.

The secret to success is to choose a process, a pain point, that has the most business impact. From a legal perspective, the first encounter is the business. You have to try and mirror what’s being sold commercially, because you want those tools to ultimately be business tools that, to an extent, are driven and managed by the legal team. 

This is stating the obvious, but don’t automate clunky or inefficient workflows. They will come up worse in digital form. Think about how you can standardise processes as much as possible, and then standardise some more. 

Always have the end user and user adoption at the forefront of your mind, alongside the legal elements. 

“The modern General Counsel [must answer] the perennial question: How is the team adding value?”
– Anna Lozynski

What would you say to legal professionals exploring the world of legaltech and operations?

It’s a really exciting time to be a lawyer. Transformation can feel really daunting but there’s also a lot of good help out there. 

Once you tap into that game changer mindset, you automatically feel excited and filled with potential, rather than feeling heavy and drained, like it’s another thing on the to-do list.

My key tip here is to prioritise legaltech. Too many legal teams are putting transformation off. They call it a project, when it’s fundamentally a cultural shift for the legal team, and also in the way the businesses access legal services. 

It’s the unique, high risk, multidisciplinary and complex problems that companies are creating or encountering, where you want to put human effort.  Brain stretch is so much more rewarding for lawyers than brain fry. 

Everything else can be streamlined and done more efficiently and consistently with a suite of legaltech tools. 

$1.4 billion was invested into legaltech YTD2021. It’s here to stay, so stay curious with the same diligence as staying abreast of legislative changes that impact your company’s business. 

How have you found the shift from General Counsel to legal innovation influencer?

I’ve always been a change agent and curious about how to do things differently. In any business environment I’ve worked in, I see a process and think, ‘Why are we doing that?’ For almost a decade, I’ve extended that mindset to be ‘tech first’; that is, how can technology help to solve a problem and enhance legal service delivery? 

In 2018, I broke a corporate mould and launched a side hustle. I already had a platform and an audience from which to build my consulting business.

Social media is an under-utilised free tool, even by legal tech companies. In some ways, I’m carving out a new path as a legal influencer, and that’s both challenging and gratifying. 

I’m working as a legal operations consultant for in-house teams, coach, speaker and legal tech advisor – it’s wonderfully diverse, creative and global. 

It’s a privilege to use my brand to help raise awareness about trends and legaltech availability to hopefully inspire others, on a one to many basis, across the globe. 

What are you reading these days?

I run a future-focused book club called Book Me In. We’ve just started Round 3, running from September through to November. 

We’ve read a whole bunch of books about mindset, artificial intelligence, data bias, blockchain and more. That’s how I incorporate reading into my routine, by running a book club!

In addition, I’m an active user on LinkedIn, have a strong and global network of innovators which I connect with regularly, and subscribe to technology blogs and news updates. 

I am constantly looking outside to grow within, and am talking to a diverse range of people that make me think differently.

Anna’s website is annalozynski.com. You can follow her on Instagram @legallyinnovative and Clubhouse @annaloz.

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