Interview with Max Cole, co-founder of Autto
You’ve recently launched Autto, an online automation platform, could you tell me a little about it?
It’s a workflow automation platform aimed primarily at law firms and regulated businesses. We’ve tried to make the automation easy by having a building block style interface where you can connect each workflow component together. It’s well priced compared to other automation providers so the aim is to make it accessible to all.
Could you give me one or two practical examples of how it would those in law firms or in-house teams?
I’d say we are ‘process agnostic’ at Autto. We don’t say “here is a process and this is a way of making it more efficient”. Law firms have a huge amount of processes and each firm does a particular process differently. So it is better to give some examples of things we have worked on. We have worked with a New York law firm to implement a workflow for issuing a particular type of debt claim, from data entry to filing. For in-house we created a HR advice workflow, which directs users to the appropriate HR documents based on their input.
I believe this is your second lawtech platform – how did you get involved with building platforms?
That’s right. I had an idea for a lawtech business about seven or eight years ago and while I was testing the water to see if it was viable I met Ian [Gosling]. We created a platform that allowed people to create a Will online. While doing that platform, the feedback we received was that people wanted the same interface but with different outputs (e.g. documents, emails, etc). So that’s how Autto came to be.
You’ve been both a solicitor and barrister over the last twenty years – how well do you think the legal profession is doing at adopting technology?
There has certainly been a convergence of two things which push firms to adopt technology. The first is demand from clients to do things less expensively and on a fixed price. The second is the that Cloud-based technologies are now more readily available but some firms are still doing things the old-fashioned way. There are now plenty of law firms with an appetite for innovation looking at new products. We’ve definitely seen a lot of interest for our product.
Apart from using your platform, what else should law firms be doing to deliver value to their clients?
They should be looking at legal design or service design to make their services more human-centred and satisfying to use. Law firms should review what they do and understand what processes they have. They should then look at technology to make them more efficient, provided they follow the “people-process-technology” cycle.
How do you think the next generation of lawyers should approach using tech in their careers?
I think the next generation of lawyers should be open to technology adoption, curious, be an evangelist for tech if it can do their job better, and should continue to have an awareness of what tech is available.
Last but not least, what do you think the lawyer of the future will look like?
In the next 10 – 20 years lawyers won’t be doing the same roles as they are today. It may be that there will be three types of lawyer in future. The first will be those that give legal advice, the second will specialise in designing and implementing legal processes and the third type will integrate tech into those processes.
Thanks for your time Max.