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Innovating the Legal Landscape: A Journey with Stephen Allen



Stephen Allen, FLUK's esteemed Private Practice Chair, brings a wealth of legal experience spanning over 25 years. He has held leadership roles at renowned firms including Clifford Chance, Olswang, BLP, and DLA Piper. Stephen's forward-thinking approach propelled him to spearhead groundbreaking legal tech initiatives, notably in AI and automation, during his tenure at Hogan Lovells and Elevate. With a background encompassing both private practice and in-house counsel roles, Stephen offers a comprehensive and distinctive perspective on the legal landscape. Notably, his contributions have been recognized with the prestigious FT Innovative Lawyers Intrepreneur of the Year award, cementing his reputation as a driving force behind change and disruption in the legal industry.

Join us as we delve into Stephen's insights on the evolving legal landscape and the trends that firms and businesses are grappling with today. Guided by his extensive experience and innovative vision, Stephen provides invaluable perspectives that shape the future of the legal profession.


1- What aspects of Future Lawyer UK are you most excited about? Are there specific sessions, discussions, or networking opportunities that you are looking forward to participating in or learning from during the event?

The thing I always look forward to most is meeting those across our industry who are making change.  The do-ers.  Those who have been there, done it and got the proverbial T-shirt.  For me the sessions look very timely – but nothing can beat the networking conversations.


 

2 - From your perspective, why do you believe conferences focused on legal innovation, like this one, are crucial for the advancement of the industry?


Knowledge is the only asset that increases in value when shared.  As such these sorts of conferences are essential.  No one has all the answers.  We need to come together share what hasn’t worked as well as what has – and learn together.  Anyone who doesn’t believe they can learn from a conference – probably has little to contribute.’


 

3 - Looking ahead, what do you envision as the future of legal innovation? Are there emerging technologies or cultural shifts that you believe will have a profound impact on the legal industry?


It will be, is and always has been the adoption of people + process + technology solutions.  Ideas are fine but changed nothing – innovation is only innovation when it is delivered.


We’ve seen a lot of excitement around developments such as generative AI – and that will make its mark (as did email, ediscovery, etc) but it has to be part of a successful ecosystem.


 

4 - What do you think is the biggest challenge faced by senior legal decision makers when it comes to innovating, and what advice would you give them to overcome this challenge?


They underestimate the upfront cost and effort and become disheartened.  We need to be realistic to the effort required whilst looking at quick wins along that path rather than instead of that path.  You need to focus on changing people not software.


 


5 - In your experience, how can law firms balance the integration of innovative technologies such as AI, machine learning, and automation while ensuring a human-centric approach?


See them at the task level, rather than the process.  Adapt your processes to fully integrate them.  Interact with them as if they were a junior member of staff.  Take time to explain the ask properly (prompt engineering) and build in time to QA the output.


 


6 - What advice would you give to organisations seeking to create a cultural shift conducive to innovation while maintaining employee engagement?


Be clear that the technology is not there to reduce heads but to increase capacity.  In the whole of human history, every economic revolution (agricultural, industrial, first digital) has increased work for humans – even though it has eradicated some tasks.  We just pick up other, more interesting tasks.  Have them help shape it, engage them early.


 



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