In this episode of LawTech Industry Insiders, Chris Ireland is joined by Sam Spivack, Managing Director (UK & Ireland), BRYTER. Sam leads BRYTER’s operation in the UK and Ireland. Alongside an expert team, Sam is responsible for generating new business, supporting existing customer growth and raising brand awareness. He started his career as a lawyer in Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (now Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner) market-leading Real Estate practice before joining machine learning giant, Kira Systems, where he led Kira’s client relationships across EMEA and Australia.
Q. Please introduce yourself
I am Managing Director of BRYTER in the UK and Ireland.
Q. What does your role involve?
My role is to work closely with the founders who started the business in Germany. We have now grown far beyond that to global jurisdictions around the world. I am helping to grow the business. As a part of my role, I help to grow the business by facilitating customer growth, encouraging new business, and broadening our brand presence in the regions I'm working in currently.
Q. What does BRYTER do?
BRYTER is at its heart a no-code automation platform, which empowers lawyers and other professionals to transform the way they deliver services through building and delivering digital products.
It enables those who do not have any coding experience whatsoever to get involved in a matter of minutes to hours with actually coding. We offer a graphic user interface, which ultimately allows those without any coding skills to really get involved from day one in building digital products.
Why is that important?
Well, we're seeing this and I'm sure everyone in the market does, the world is becoming increasingly digital from our personal lives to our business lives. Our market is very much focused on enterprise grade organisations that includes law firms, large consultancies, like the big four and corporate legal departments.
Today, we've been working with a number of these organisations to help bridge the IT skills gap, enabling people and those organisations to develop digital services quickly and effectively. In doing so, we’ve enabled subject matter experts to disseminate their knowledge across the organisation that they're servicing.
Possibly, lawyers working in-house already servicing the business with legal issues, but it could also be law firms and the way that law firms service their clients with their legal expertise on complex subject matter areas. The reason why this is important is because we see, and we hear from clients consistently that there is a lack of effective IT resources to deal with; a number of requests that come in for digital products. By upskilling more people in the organisation to build these we help alleviate that issue.
I think BRYTER's unique selling points are its intuitiveness, its usability, and the powerful toolset that comes within it to enable people to optimize many use cases with our platform.
Including complex legal reasoning and business reasoning. A toolset that is directly focused on the legal and compliance sector to enable automation of a lot of the decision making and process driven processes.
Anyone can start building digital products and solutions in a matter of hours. And it only takes importantly minutes to actually deliver them. What we're doing with BRYTER, you're building live solutions, you're not building prototypes, which also means that the subject matter experts can be brought into the development process from day one, which significantly reduces the time and cost of development and lowers the bar to return on investment, which creates more opportunities to develop digital products.
The future, in our opinion of professional services, is digital and we form an integral part of enabling that to happen.
Q. Why do you think productisation of legal services is important?
Yeah, it's a great question. I think there's a couple of reasons for this. One comes down to cost and the increasing demand for cost-effective legal services. So, there's two ways that you can deploy BRYTER. One relates to optimization of the way in which you service your clients.
Enabling some parts of the element of your service, some work streams, which may be slightly lower margin, which may be more repetitive and slightly more commoditized to be delivered in a more agile and digital manner, which means that clients can leverage off that expertise anytime, anywhere without having to consult a human. Examples of that could be areas of regulation, where there are straightforward answers based on inputs that the answers in the application, which gives that beneficiary of the service and indication of what their next steps might be.
I'm thinking of things like 'I am a US fund and I'm marketing in Europe. I need to understand to what extent the AIFMD regulations apply to me. I can do that by consulting a lawyer, but also, I can allow a lawyer to build a digital product, which ultimately distils their expertise to identify if in this case AIFMD applies. And if so, what the next steps to take are, so that's one way of doing it.
The other way (and we're seeing a need for this, or we're seeing sort of a surge in the market for a demand for digital products), is ultimately because the customers of law firms, the underlying beneficiaries of legal services, have been asking for more interactive agile services as a means of getting legal information and more expeditiously. So, it's very much driven by a client demand for getting cost-effective and streamlined legal expertise.
Another example that might be that actually a law firm assists an in-house legal team with streamlining the way that the business deals with legal requests. So for instance an in house legal team might be servicing a number of different business units, perhaps across the whole business. It could be that those are related to cyber security or could just be relating to access to NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). With BRYTER, we enable a law firm or the in-house legal team to ultimately build solutions, which can then be scaled across their client business to enable self-service on core legal issues that come up day in, day out.
Like drafting of NDAs in terms that are acceptable to the house style or the house position as well as servicing legal requests that are more kind of common and perhaps require less human because they're relatively standard in response to be automated through the platform is a combination of really agility, cost effectiveness and efficiencies.
The other angle here is that from a law firms’ perspective, there is obviously pressure on the billable hour. You see, it's still well known that many firms, most firms are operating in terms of their benchmarks alongside the billable hours. So associates would work towards a billable target and their bonuses would be dependent on that. However, that is not always extrapolated into how they deliver services to their clients. Increasingly, these are fixed fee or cap fee arrangements, there's pressures on pricing. And what you can do with something like BRYTER is you can build digital apps or products.
We say digital legal products, really solutions, which can then be monetized through paywalls. That means for the firm is that they, the way in which they service clients into subscription based pricing models, almost like a Netflix for law, in some respects where certain legal services can be accessed anytime, anywhere, and their clients pay a subscription fee, which is recurring based revenue for those services.
Do you think having a background as a lawyer helps when trying to pitch to law firms?
Yeah, it's a question I'm often asked actually. I think for me, it's been very, very helpful to have actually practiced at a great firm and have had that experience. For me, I would say, yes, it has helped to have had legal experience because primarily I understand my customer really, really well that said, I don't think it's a prerequisite whatsoever for getting into legal technology.
However, this is ultimately a multidisciplinary industry. I work with amazing teammates who come from lots of different kinds of professional backgrounds. Don't have any legal expertise, but offer tremendous value to the way we build our products, the way we service our clients and the way that we brand ourselves, I think, and message our product as well.
They will have complimentary experience. For instance, things like data science or even behavioural science. I think legal technology is also as much about education as it is about providing a cost effective or, or monetizable solution. This is about evolving as an industry towards a more digital sort of age and process that we already work within. So, having an education background as well is a great example of someone who I think can add tremendous value to our industry as a whole and to any start any sort of growing business that is servicing the legal sector.
Q. Should students be taught about technology as part of their legal education?
I think there does need to be elements of increasing amounts of technology brought or incorporated into legal education. I think this starts from when you start at the GDL or LPC stage. I remember my time in law school and it does prepare you to some extent for practice. I think at the same time you're not fully prepared to jump in and be a practicing lawyer at the point where you leave law school, but you're certainly given a lot of the foundations and sort of the formula that you'd apply when trying to solve problems in practice as well as do legal research and the following. So I think it's an integral part of a lawyers foundational experience. And because of that, I think absolutely yes, legal technology and understanding the application of legal technology to the way in which you can carry out the legal services is important for aspiring lawyers in your school.
Now, with that, I don't think all lawyers need to be data scientists whatsoever. I don't think that lawyers need to necessarily have the, the, the technical know how to build systems. I particularly don't think that you need that because I think there are increasingly more, no code tools and more tools out there, which are designed entirely around the user so that they don't need a huge amount of training and upskilling in order to use them. But I do think what is needed is increasingly more of a flavour within the curriculum of how certain applications and technologies can assist in their day to day jobs and how also it assists ultimately clients, because the best kind of in of home practice are those that really, I think, yes, they understand the norm, but they understand the client issue and the client problem and actually can deliver, in the client language, the solution. Technology is an important part of that.
At BRYTER, we’ve been working to assist those schools and universities. We recently launched BRYTER Open precisely for this to enable the academic community, the student community, and NGOs to actually get equipped with the skills to build out and deliver solutions that are really needed in this market; not just from a profit perspective, but from a for good perspective.
Q. What would be your advice to students who want to learn more about legal technology?
I think I'd say if you asked me that few years ago, I think I'd have a different answer to it. I start with that because when I left practice, I don't think there was, and that was only around 2017.
There wasn't as much information available even for me at the time around legal technology and the industry itself. But since then, there's been a tremendous amount of firstly press as well as dedicated websites where you can get more information.
These websites cover applications that are prevalent within industry technologies that are facilitating certain legal tasks and also offer an overarching view of how these all fit together. I think one thing to say here at this point, before I get to the practical elements is legal technology is still technology.
I don't think even as, as aspiring lawyer you need to necessarily stop with just legal. I think ultimately having a grasp of technology and understanding its application to the way we work and even live. I think it's a really good grounding because most of legal technology--all of legal technology for that matter--extends from just being technology albeit focused on the legal sector in terms of practical steps.
There's an increasing number of internships and hackathons competitions that students can get involved in. Again, I didn't have that opportunity when I was transitioning my career towards technology, but there's tremendous numbers of it out there now, a number of programs there, including in BRYTER.
We have a number of different internships. I know a number of our compatriots within the industry as well, offer these were designed specifically for students to get a more of a hands on experience of what it's like working in a high grade technology business that's focused within the legal sector. I think the future is bright for students who want to get more involved in legal tech. And partly because we're a bit more of a mature market than I think we were even a few years ago and therefore there are much more practical steps regarding hackathons.
We’ve recently had the FT innovative hackathon, the GLH global legal hackathon, two great examples as well of opportunities to actually get access to great technologies and work with them to build really, really important solutions.
BRYTER is the leading no-code platform to automate expert knowledge. Its intuitive toolbox enables professionals to build, manage and sell interactive applications without the need for programming skills. BRYTER helps law firms, consultancies, banks, corporates and public bodies across the globe to digitize and scale their services. BRYTER is especially geared towards experts in law, finance, tax and compliance, who work with complex, conditional and scenario-based content, to automate recurring and standardizable decision-making processes.
BRYTER supports a number of student internships. As and when there are new internship opportunities, they will be advertised via the Careers section of their website. BRYTER Open is a free version of the platform for academic and non-profit use.