From Graduates to Innovators: The ILT Graduate Scheme Shaping the Future of Legal Innovation
Addleshaw Goddard's Innovation & Legal Technology (ILT) Graduate Scheme is an innovative initiative aimed at providing graduates with a unique opportunity to develop skills essential for transforming the delivery of legal services. The scheme was launched in 2021, with the first cohort of 13 Legal Technologists starting their journey in November of the same year. In September 2022, the team welcomed another 6 Legal Technologists, expanding the team and diversity of skills.
The ILT Graduate Scheme (the "scheme") is designed to provide Legal Technologists with a comprehensive understanding of the operations of the ILT team and equip them with the skills and knowledge necessary to become pioneers of legal innovation. As part of the scheme, the Legal Technologists rotate through the team's six pillars for a four-month rotation. Each pillar offers a unique learning opportunity and exposes the graduates to various area of focuses including Client Projects, Legal Technology Consulting, Internal Efficiency and Research & Development.
The first cohort of Legal Technologists are now in final seat and are expected to finish the scheme in September 2023 to become level three Legal Technologists playing a critical part in AG's commitment to driving innovation in the legal industry. Their roles will be key in shaping the future of the profession, helping to create new solutions that improve efficiency, accuracy, and accessibility for clients. This blog features Anna Martinez and Conlan Wilkinson, who will share valuable insights to those considering a career in legal technology and innovation.
ANNA, SECOND YEAR LEGAL TECHNOLOGIST
I pursued an LLM in Climate Change and Environmental Law at the University of Edinburgh, where I wrote my thesis on using Distributed Ledger Technology to improve the trading of carbon credits for the Paris Agreement. This experience showed me how transformative technology can benefit the legal world, and I then knew I wanted a career that combined law and technology.
I came across the scheme online, and thought it was perfect. I spoke to friends who had worked at AG and was convinced by the seamless provision of legal tech services they offer to their clients. The more research I did, the more I knew I wanted to be part of their team.
PILLAR TO PILLAR
My first pillar was Document Lifecycle which focuses on technologies that automate documents. This was a great jumpstart in using low code, and I was grateful for the opportunity to complete my Thomson Reuters Contract Express intermediate certification. I then moved on to Products, where I spent most of my time working with BRYTER on a significant multidimensional project - the Consumer Duty Evaluator. This tool was the first in the market to give clients the ability to familiarize themselves with their Consumer Duty obligations and spot where in their business they may be at risk of non-compliance. Soon after, I joined R&D and experienced being at the forefront of all the decision-making for purchasing tools for our team. Currently, I'm working on a large divestment project based on HighQ during my time in Client Projects.
One of my main highlights over the past year has been my 4-month client secondment during the Legal Tech Consulting pillar, where we helped the client select and roll out a Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) platform and liaise specifications with the CLM vendor and their implementation partner. CLM has become increasingly popular in the legal tech world, and I had the fantastic opportunity to attain first-hand experience with the system. I learned how important attention to minute details is in the recipe for a positive transformation and gained experience in effective use of empathy mapping and making individuals feel part of the process during change management.
THE LEGAL TECHNOLOGIST CAREER PATH
Although legal technology has significant impacts on the legal industry, the legal technologist role is still a new career path. By increasing students' understanding of legal technology, we can ensure that the legal industry continues to evolve in the right direction. Throughout the scheme, I had countless opportunities to engage in workshops and events. We arranged a legal design workshop at Edinburgh Law School and I was part of a legal tech panel at the University of Aberdeen. Seeing the engagement and curiosity for the legal tech world is really motivating.
Making career choices can be both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. It's normal to feel uncertain about which path to take, but when you have a genuine interest in your chosen profession, going the extra mile to excel in your field becomes more natural. I made the decision to pursue a career in legal tech, and I can confidently say I am thrilled with that choice. Working at the forefront of this space has been nothing short of inspiring, and this is probably one of the many reasons why I love my job so much. No day is the same, and each day really involves an innovative solution.
CONLAN, FIRST YEAR LEGAL TECHNOLOGIST
Whilst completing my Law LLB, I found myself torn between my passion for creative endeavours and technology, and the traditional pedagogy of law. However, this all changed when I began a module with a focus on Legal Tech. It was then that I realized that a career in Legal Tech would be the ideal means to marry my interests in law and technology with my creativity.
THE GRADUATE SCHEME
Joining AG in September 2022, I was thrilled to start in Client Projects as my first seat. It was a great way to begin the scheme as I was immediately exposed to a breadth of clients across AG's operating sectors. Although many of the tools that I would be using, from HighQ to Kira, were completely alien to me, I quickly became accustomed to their functionality as time progressed. The ILT team were incredibly supportive in my learning, and regular training and learning sessions helped me develop a strong understanding of the field at a rapid pace.
My second seat was Internal Efficiencies, a pillar dedicated to enhancing the speed and ease of internal operations. I have had the opportunity to work more closely with associates across the divisions, which allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges they face in their daily work. By listening to their feedback, I was able to explore how ILT solutions could alleviate their pain points, promote efficiency and productivity within the firm.
As a member of the second cohort of the Scheme, I have had the privilege of working alongside Legal Technologists from the first cohort. Upon arrival at the firm, we are paired with a buddy who is there to guide us through our integration into the team and be on hand if we have any questions or issues. My buddy wasn’t in my pillar, which allowed me to have exposure to the work that other pillars complete months before working in that team myself, building a more complete picture of ILT's reach early in my career. On top of the buddy system, the team also runs a mentoring scheme wherein two Legal Technologists are paired with more senior members of the team. This presents an opportunity to have in-depth discussions on anything from career development to wellbeing and CSR, which I have found incredibly helpful and enjoyable.
What I found most appealing about the work of ILT is how varied it is, and how Legal Technologists, regardless of how junior, are given opportunities to contribute to a variety of tasks. I have assisted with every stage of a project, from pitch drafting and scoping exercises to tool creation and ongoing tech support. Outside of our normal day-to-day work, there are also many opportunities to work on public speaking and grow the team's industry presence. During my short time at the firm, I have completed two speaking events with colleagues to spread the word of Legal Tech innovation to prospective hires. This has enabled me to strengthen my skills in a wide range of work types and created a solid foundation for the rest of my time in the scheme.
WHY IS AG RIGHT FOR YOU?
In my short time with ILT, I have been made to feel like a valued member of the team, irrespective of the task that I am completing. I have relished getting up every day to contribute to the innovation of Addleshaw Goddard's delivery of legal services. If you have a passion for law and technology but feel that the one-size-fits-all nature of traditional paths into a legal career is too restrictive for you, then I couldn’t recommend the scheme enough. Your skills will be stretched, and your creativity tested at the forefront of innovation in the field. Ultimately no day at AG is ever the same and the nature of the work whilst certainly challenging is incredibly rewarding and enjoyable.