Career Story – Vicki Milner
What do you do and what do you enjoy about it?
Hi, I’m Vicki, a Legal Applications Analyst at Osborne Clarke. At the moment, I mostly focus on the collaboration side of M365 Teams. In particular, we have replaced our traditional processes with M365’s task management tool. I work closely with our fee-earners developing bespoke task management templates, which increase efficiency and transparency on matters. I also head up a consulting service where I listen to lawyers’ pain points and offer them solutions accordingly. This allows time-poor lawyers to access bespoke advice at a time that suits them.
I look at other technologies too and a lot of my job involves developing technology business cases by evaluating whether it is worth the money spent, the time it takes lawyers to upskill and how efficient it is. I also consider whether it’s always necessary to use technology as sometimes it doesn’t save enough time to make it worthwhile.
I really like the freedom and flexibility I have now. It is up to me to take responsibility for my workload and bring new ideas to the table. I also like the problem solving aspects and being able to see the bigger picture. For example, I need to understand how a new piece of software integrates with the existing stack or whether the stakeholders will be on board if we introduce new technologies and what those barriers to adoption are.
How did you get to where you are now?
I trained with Burges Salmon and qualified in 2019. I went on to practice Corporate law at DAC Beachcroft for just over a year. I then saw that Osborne Clarke was recruiting a solicitor to leverage its legal tech offering internally and to support their lawyers in using the technology available. It’s a fairly new team, with my counterpart, Fiona Boag, having joined around four years ago. I’ve been here less than a year and we’re currently advertising for another Legal Applications Analyst and a legal secondee from within Osborne Clarke to join our team, so we’re definitely growing.
Whilst I took a fairly traditional route, I would say that it is not necessary to do so. There are law students who graduated and went to work for legal tech teams in law firms as well as paralegals and solicitors. In private practice, an understanding of how a law firm and lawyers operate is particularly helpful as I mostly work with other lawyers and need to understand their pain points and concerns.
What advice would you give to those pursuing the same path?
Go for it! It’s different to practising as a solicitor but it’s been a brilliant change for me. It’s challenging and requires a lot of thinking outside the box and problem solving. You can use your own experience to influence certain decisions and I personally have a lot of freedom to shape my role to respond to business needs. I have to be able to adapt and my role has already changed quite a lot since I started, which is really exciting. I rely quite heavily on my communication and persuasion skills as I need to be able to communicate well with different parts of the business and be able to translate tech speak. I often have to influence people and persuade them to see the benefits of adoption or help them adopt the technology. I have to think commercially as I need to understand what’s best for the business from a technology point of view (and this won’t be the same across all law firms). Change is incremental as well – I used to get a lot of satisfaction from completing deals and moving on to the next one, whereas now it is much more about slowly changing peoples’ behaviours so that the business is more efficient.
There are a number of legal technology training contracts and vacation schemes in law firms at the moment with new ones being added all the time. Osborne Clarke offers a legal technology vacation scheme with the University of Bristol and a graduate programme that’s open to everyone.
I think it’s worth saying that this is a rapidly growing area as law firms realise they need to become more efficient to keep up with client demands, and it is evolving quickly which makes it a really exciting time to join. So if you’re thinking about it, I’d definitely encourage you to take the plunge.