Senior Legal Counsel – Siemens, Saudi Arabia
1. How has the Covid-19 crisis affected the way you work as a lawyer? What are the key positives and negatives that have emerged out of lockdown?
The health of the employees has been a priority to my employer. I am lucky to be able to work from home since April 2020. Thankfully, our infrastructure was ready for the flexible work environment. It was also helpful that my employer has chosen to trust its employees to manage their time and their schedules efficiently.
The lockdown has revealed that lawyers do not need to be present in the office to efficiently assist their business partners. We now know that our work can be done remotely. Legal tech was already taking momentum before the pandemic, but I think its progress has now been accelerated.
Personally, the isolation forced me to realize my inner strength and helped me develop a sense of gratitude for my profession. Knowing that millions of people have been made redundant during Covid-19, in-house lawyers are very lucky to be empowered by technology and flexible work arrangements.
The key negative that has emerged is the destructive impact of the isolation. It has been challenging to deal with uncertain and unpredictable situations. There is a loss of belonging of course, but our team is trying to overcome this challenge by holding virtual coffee breaks in order to stay connected.
2. Will you and your company continue to use flexible and agile working in future? Will you reduce the size of your physical office space?
Siemens has made a global announcement that we will have a “new normal working schedule” going forward, which will allow for a greatly increased flexibility. There is no current plan to reduce the size of our physical office space.
3. How have you employed legal tech during the crisis? What has been successful and what has been lacking?
We were using our internal tools before the crisis, and we continue to use them during the pandemic. Of course, there is always room for improvement, however our set-up has been working effectively during Covid-19.
4. How do you see the advancement of legal tech affecting the legal industry in the next 10 years?
On May 16, 2016, Business Insider has published an article titled “The world’s first artificial intelligent lawyer was hired at a law firm” by Chris Weller. Four years later we have yet to be replaced by robots. Having said this, I believe that in the next ten years online tools will be used for trials and document submission, electronic signatures will be widely acceptable, there will be no more need to keep wet signatures on file, parties will have to accept e-service and of course smart contracts will replace the contract negotiators. In order to remain relevant, we will need to be tech savvy and ready to learn new skills.
5. Has your company changed its remuneration structure during the crisis?
No, it has not.
6. Name one key thing that will be different in the legal profession in 10 years’ time.
Most of our work will be done by lawyers in less expensive jurisdictions, using legal tech.