Robert Maliszewski is a Manchester-based Senior Legal Technologist working in the Research and Development pillar in the Innovation & Legal Technology team (ILT) at Addleshaw Goddard. Robert shares his insight in taking an alternative career pathway.
Throughout my law degree, there was little discussion about legal technology, innovation within law or how future roles may change in the industry. We did review Richard Susskind's book Tomorrow's Lawyers and discussed how law firms might be shaped in the future, but legal technology as a concept had not made its way into the curriculum as it has now. During my Master's Degree, I attended a legal technology talk which included panellist Mike Kennedy, Senior Manager - ILT from Addleshaw Goddard. This was the first event I attended where legal technology was discussed; there was very limited resources and market awareness at that time, so this was a chance to learn about a new area within law.
I applied for a Legal Technologist role at Addleshaw Goddard, initially not knowing what to expect and hoping to add to my experience in order to help me achieve a Training Contract (TC), as I had been applying for TCs after university. I enjoyed the role and a career path began to open up for me as a Legal Technologist. As I gained more experience, I decided to turn down the TC offer from a top international firm and focus on this new career as part of the Innovation and Legal Technology team. This blog is aimed at sharing the reasons for this decision but also to show this role as an alternative option in the legal industry.
Find your niche
My current role as a Legal Technologist allows me to be part of a small and specialised team that works alongside the lawyers. My choice to follow a career within Legal Technology and Innovation was influenced by a number of factors, one of which was a desire to find a niche in which I could excel. Through my experience of applying for TCs, I recognised how saturated the legal market is with many people applying for few roles and how difficult it is to truly stand out.
Lawyers spend significant amount of time on administrative heavy / repetitive tasks. Our team helps them to reduce that burden by looking into various legal tech tools. This is a challenge not only for law firms, but also for in-house teams within every business. Advising on tools, convincing people to do things in a different way to what they are used to is challenging, yet very rewarding.
Alternative skillset and diversity of responsibilities
Every day is different in legal technology. Every project is unique and can be treated as a new challenge that we need to solve. Throughout my time at Addleshaw Goddard, I have been involved in a wide range of projects. This variety of responsibilities means that I also develop varied skills, including technical, legal, presentation, communication and prioritisation. It requires a good level of adaptability to be able to jump from one project to another. At the same time, it is difficult to define what a legal technologist role is. I wear different hats within the organisation – Business Analyst, Stakeholder Manager, Product Owner, Design Creator, and Research Analyst, amongst others. I believe no other role would give me such variety of responsibilities and skills. And after nearly 3 years I know it is just the beginning.
When I joined the Addleshaw Goddard team two years ago, there were only 15 of us. Now, there are over 40 people, and the second round of the graduate scheme is just about to start. There are many legal technology initiatives on the market, including conferences, modules at universities and Master's degrees focusing on legal technology. More and more legal technology start-ups form as investors and law firms show a huge interest in investing in such businesses. It is great to be able to engage in those events and promote innovation. My role allows me to play an active part in this. I can participate in many panels across the UK talking about innovation, collaborate with universities and organise workshops for students.
A chance to step into the unknown
The Legal Technologist role is very new to the market. As a result, the career pathway is determined by people rather than a clear ladder. While the graduate scheme allows people to experience different pillars and types of work, the next step will be determined by you. It involves stepping into the unknown, as your unique skills will be able to create a role that may not currently exist. When I joined Addleshaw Goddard, the Research & Delivery pillar did not exist. Now I support the business with full-time commitment to that type of work while building my unique skillset. Similarly, you will be able to tailor your own career, focus and specialisation. Our team will help with that.
Even though as a Legal Technologist you will be working in the legal field, legal experience or legal background is not necessary to excel in this role. Our team has many people coming from non-legal backgrounds and their different mindsets help to build a strong and diverse team. Research proves that teams comprised of people from different backgrounds have much higher performance ratings. And that diversity is especially good for a team like ours, where strong collaboration and brain-storming different ideas is happening on a daily basis. We are first and foremost interested in you and how you can help shape our team.
For those that are interested in working in the legal sector but do not want to qualify - there are opportunities for you. There is a vast range of roles within law firms, alongside the traditional legal services. And legal technology could be the one for you.
For more information or any questions, please feel free to reach out to email me.
Alternatively, look at our Innovation and Legal Technology page on the website, where we have some blogs from others in the team and some case studies.
For information about our Graduate Scheme click here.