Carl Watson

Carl Watson

General Counsel (Asia) – Arcadis, Hong Kong

1. How has the Covid-19 crisis affected the way you work as a lawyer?

Not at all, the way I work is consistent as is my role description and expectations made of me and what I expect from others. What are the key positives and negatives that have emerged out of lockdown? Most of my operating area of responsibility, Asia Pacific (and specifically China, HK and Macau) went into the crisis first and came out first. We have been operating as normal in most of our operating areas throughout. We have restrictions still in the Philippines and India but rapidly (across our global business) mobilized our O365 functionality and have supported our colleagues to work in a more agile way. Our clients are comfortable with the way we continue to perform and deliver in a seamless way. Negatives are the obvious ones like a lack of F2F time in offices, travel restrictions and the rolling uncertainty but we have invested in mental well-being platforms and training for managers to mitigate the impacts as far as we can.

2. Will you and your firm continue to use flexible and agile working in future?

Yes, we have a defined strategy in place around workplace but we are a people business and our clients expect F2F so we will be maintaining that relationship culture at the same time. Will you reduce the size of your physical office space? That is a consideration but it has to fit with business needs and within our overall strategic direction of travel.

3. How have you employed legal tech during the crisis?

Legal tech specifically, no more than usual – but we have certainly reached into and across the full suite of apps under O365 to ensure we are driving agility in our legal operations What has been successful and what has been lacking? No real negatives – happy with how we’re running. Looking to drive more into our digital transformation of the function into 2021 and beyond with more RPA and NLP applications we’re developing around contract generation/review/root causes/trends/dashboarding.

4. How do you see the advancement of legal tech affecting the legal industry in the next 10 years?

Legal tech can be helpful but we have a unique skill set within our business to build and implement our own apps and tech (as we do that for our clients already) – why pay/subscribe for legal tech SaaS product(s) when you can build and operate an indigenous system that fits our bespoke requirements?

5. Name one key thing that will be different in the legal profession in 10 years time.

There will be much fewer human lawyers and much more self serve.

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