After obtaining her Bachelor of Laws and Juris Doctor in Common Law at the University of Montreal, Claire quickly became interested in business and technology in her role as a lawyer. She first began in general civil litigation before concentrating her practice in commercial and corporate law. Claire immersed herself in Montreal’s technological community, often being the only lawyer in a room full of techies. She went on to co-found Legal Hackers Montreal, obtain a mandate on the IT Committee of the Quebec Bar and recently joined the Legal Tech Montreal initiative. In 2017, she found her ideal position on the Legal Suite team as Legal Counsel - IT Contract Management, where she can combine her interests in technology and business law for the benefit of the In-House community.
"I knew I could merge my knowledge and interest in technology [...], because I believe the legal field is an essential part of any democratic society and it’s a field to cherish."
"I must say, as of now, Legal departments have shown more initiative towards technology than law firms."
Why did you decide to become In-House Counsel after your practice in law firms?
In all honesty, I think I was always cut out to be an In-House Counsel. From my last year of high school where I was completely invested in the Junior Achievement program to launching my own law firm, business has always been a big part of what I love doing. Because of that, I couldn’t foresee a career with only lawyers as colleagues; I think interacting on a daily basis with other departments is helping me become a better lawyer with a more comprehensive view of what my role can be. I also love the different roles I can play for Legal Suite, and thus the diversity in my daily tasks. And as a corporate lawyer, we always have a distance with the businesses we’re advising, so I felt I could do so much more if I could focus all of my energy on one client.
How and why did your interest for legal technologies emerged?
I’m fortunate to have a father and brother in tech fields, so it has always been an integral part of my world. I took technology for granted until I set foot in a law firm. Entering the legal field was a big shock to me because of all the tasks done manually that could be optimized by already existing software, as well as the amount of paper law firms were going through daily. I saw it as the main reason why the chasm between legal professionals and citizens couldn’t seem to be overcome and it became a sort of mission to strive for change. I knew I could merge my knowledge and interest in technology with the rather antiquate field of law to make it relevant again, because I believe the legal field is an essential part of any democratic society and it’s a field to cherish.
How are you leveraging technology in your day-to-day practice?
Of course, GaLexy® is also one of my essential tools! It’s proven really useful to keep track of reminders, link documents to matters, generate reports, share information between departments, control access to sensitive information and create a corporate memory, among other things. I also use other tools like Evernote to share with my colleagues the copious amount of notes I take every day, from internal meetings to conferences (I’ve gotten quite a reputation as the typewriter!). Slack has become essential to keep track of conversations across departments and subjects as well as to meet through video with colleagues from the US and France. Finally, I also use Adobe Acrobat on a regular basis, because there’s nothing more wonderful than modifying PDF documents!
Having a foot in both legal and R&D departments at Legal Suite, how do you feel the In-House legal practice will be impacted by legal tech in the near future?
I must say, as of now, Legal departments have shown more initiative towards technology than law firms, so we already have a “foot in the door” in terms of legal tech. I think our environment in part dictates it, because our stakeholders are businessmen instead of lawyers, so their expectations are simply not the same. In terms of what’s coming in the near future, I think we can expect
- a greater integration of project management skills for legal counsels
- the rise of creative lawyers, namely when tackling work methodology or risk management
- the first steps to integrate automated contract review
- better automatic internal processes like workflows
- chatbots to answer basic legal questions or help navigate legal processes
I can also foresee the arrival of blockchain, because it’s undeniable better traceability of legal and administrative acts is an essential part of our work. However, I doubt this would happen in the short term as most companies and projects currently focus on ICOs.
An advice for recent in-house lawyers?
Only one thing: meet with coworkers from other departments on a daily basis. Get into meetings where legal isn’t always a given, such as sales or production meetings. There’s really no better way to understand their reality and how to meet their needs, as well as staying up-to-date on the challenges they face.