The Legal Engineer – Julia Babiarz
I am currently working as a Junior Legal Engineer at SYKE. SYKE is a fast growing legal engineering business helping in-house legal teams and law firms to buy and implement legal technology. As a junior at SYKE, I have a very varied workload. I automate legal documents using a variety of different platforms, such as Contract Express, SpringCM and Contract Mill. I have also had the chance to work on developing a legal chatbot and have recently began developing my contract lifecycle management knowledge. The latter has given me the opportunity to travel abroad.
I currently shadow an experienced ex-lawyer with crossover tech skills. Having this relationship has given me the ability to learn fast and receive feedback on my work. One of the first projects I got involved in with SYKE was an Access to Justice project, and I recently had the opportunity to speak about this project at the ENCLE conference in Bratislava, Slovakia. I spoke about how tech could enable greater access to justice for litigants in person.
The project was focused on child care proceedings, and in particular the simplification of statement drafting for applicants. I was able to create a simple informative web based questionnaire using Contract Mill. The questionnaire also contained guidance and clear explanations, which allowed applicants to draft their statements quicker and easier. It was great to be able to innovate and transfer the legal tech skills I had developed to such an important cause. The legal tech world is evolving rapidly. The possibilities seem endless and I am excited to be part of that growth.
I have recently graduated from the School of Law at the University of Manchester. While on legal work placements during my studies, I often found myself doing robotic tasks for weeks on end. This led me to question why we aren’t doing things differently within the legal profession. I came across Richard Susskind’s ‘Tomorrow’s Lawyers’. This book inspired me greatly and led my view that the legal profession needed to change.
I knew that the current economic climate would shape the future into one centred around efficiency. In my final year of university, I had the opportunity to study a ‘Legal Tech and Access to Justice’ module. This consisted of building an app (using a platform we were taught to use as part of the course) for a cause assigned to us by our lecturer. In groups, we had to work for and communicate with a client in order to produce a fully functioning app. This module was so different to any of the other traditional textbook law modules I have studied. Unlike my other modules, I walked away from the legal tech module with enhanced communication skills and a lot of practical skills and experience.
I would advise any law student to really question their environment while on work placements, and have a think about whether they have a vision for how things could be done differently and made more efficient. I would advise them to read Tomorrows Lawyer’s and read up about particular areas of tech which interest them most (for me – this was legal robots serving in courts). Having knowledge of how tech creates efficiency is a skill that is becoming extremely valuable and will make you stand out to employers. Knowledge of legal tech can also quickly turn into a passion once you realise just how much value it can bring to clients and how many opportunities exist to improve access to justice.