It’s almost five years to the day that I founded the Legal Technologist.
The first publication was a bit of a newsletter – which contained mainly my articles on what I thought about document automation. The main reason I started it was to publish what people were doing with legal tech and reflect what people were doing in legal ops roles like my own.
At the time I had recently qualified as a solicitor and I found myself in a document automation management type role – aiming to roll out document automation across the law firm I was working. It was a brand-new role at the firm and I had to pick up the document automation tool I was using and master it without support from anyone at the firm – and with limited support from the vendor.
I was a bit of a one-man island and at the time I had no contact with anyone who did document automation in Bristol – so things like best practice and what progression would look like were a complete unknown. Even now there are plenty of people out there feeling something similar in their own organisations. I was just lucky that I was able to reach out to others through the magazine.
Over those five years I’ve met a lot of wonderful people from around the world who share the same enthusiasm as me for legal tech!
Defining the legal ops career path
I’m of the opinion that legal operations can now be a career in itself – an alternate option to practising law. When I went to university it seemed like there were two options if you wanted to work in law: be a solicitor or be a barrister. Since then legal ops has exploded and there are now so many roles that combine law with technology. It is no longer strictly ‘new’ but in my opinion it isn’t fully defined either.
One example I heard recently was that someone had been a legal engineer as a junior role, gone to another role and then subsequently went on to a different legal engineer role where they were more of a consultant. On paper it looks like they’ve stepped down after the second role when in actuality their role had become more senior. Examples like this make me think that there should be a market standard.
In law it’s clear what the hierarchy is. Even without understanding which practice area they are in an employer could understand roughly how senior a lawyer is and what their progression is pointing towards (and probably how they’d achieve that). With legal ops its quite inconsistent, it is difficult for employers to truly understand what level people are because of the sheer number of different named roles and what they’d need to do to progress.
Some clarity to roles, the skills required and even pay banding would give at some guidance for employees and employers alike to plot their careers. More broadly, having a clear market standard would allow people to make a determination of what they want to do for their career earlier – possibly even at university itself.
So in 2023 the magazine’s focus will be on defining the legal ops career path and providing that market standard.
How to get involved
The Legal Technologist
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