Design learning & engagement initiatives as refreshing breaks for employees: Praveen Kulkarni
The Legal Tech sector is witnessing significant growth. Top industry players are trying to move away from traditional practices and embrace these emerging tools to enable legal teams and help them focus on what matters most.
In a recent interview, Praveen Kulkarni, Co – Founder and Director at PracticeLeague shares how the idea of pioneering the legal tech space in India came about, their growth in the industry, their vision for the legal tech sector and the impact of the growing sector on the talent market.
The Legal tech space is emerging in India and growing at a fast pace with a size of $380 million now. How do you expect the industry to grow further?
The growth in the legal technology industry so far has been dramatic in terms of pace. Despite that, current penetration remains low, at around 10%. Thus, we see the Legaltech industry maintaining the pace of growth, especially in the key areas where legal teams and law firms are facing challenges – like CLM, E-Signature, Matter, and Law Practice Management. The CLM market, in particular, is expected to grow at a rate of 7% over the next few years.
The rise of legal ops, which deals with the entire set of business processes and activities that enable the legal department to perform its function, will further sustain the growth momentum. This key change will catalyse the shift towards platform solutions – a single legal solution across all legal needs. These, along with Compliance, are expected to a tripling in value as per a Gartner report. The ELM market is expected to take off as a result, with nearly 50% of corporates worldwide expected to fully automate the legal function by 2024, per a Gartner report.
Further, another supporting trend to the above is the rising allocation of budgets as evidenced by a rise in legal spending by corporate departments, which per a Gartner report is expected to reach an allocation of 12% of total legal budgets – up from 3.9% now. Organisations can be expected to move towards integrating and unifying the entire legal platform, starting with modular solutions and increasingly moving towards unity.
Thus, overall, we expect to see sustained interest in and growth in the legal technology market.
What is your vision for the legal tech sector and how are you in investing in talent development within your firm to fulfill this vision?
Our vision for the legal technology sector is allied to the growth pattern in the industry – the shift towards a unified platform and the rise of a felt need for legal transformation. The legal technology sector will increasingly gravitate towards, at the first level, a fully unified legal platform spanning everything from CLM to Compliance in one interconnected system. The next level is the full integration with wider business systems, fully enabling the organisation digitally.
This expected shift in demand patterns has highlighted the need for widening our integrations with allied systems; and secondly, deepening our skill sets in the areas which are scheduled to see higher traction. In particular, we are keen on AI, Data Science, and similar skillsets.
As entire organisations get fully automated, the rise of higher-level benefits means that deeper skills in the legal domain will be at a premium in the legal tech industry. Therefore, we are also focussing on legal industry domain knowledge within our teams so as to better understand and serve our client’s requirements and needs.
What are some top skills that you are looking for in your talent?
The required skill sets are in three buckets – technical, people, and other skill sets:
- Technical skills: Legal engineers, AI/ML, Cloud technologies, Product Management, UI/UX specialist
- People Skills: Flexibility, adaptability, effective communication, collaboration, leadership qualities,
- Other skills: Legal Knowledge, Special Architects in Law Technologies, Client Experience Management, Team Management, Strong work ethics, Creative thinking and problem-solving skills
As you expand across geographies, how are you managing talent and ensuring a similar exponential experience for all?
The expansion into other markets has necessitated a realignment of teams to cater to them, with a dedicated international team, for now in Sales and Marketing.
We are currently in the middle of a reorientation of the Product and Customer support teams to ensure the same razor-sharp focus on each geography. Secondly, expanding business and teams has meant a shift in human resource development and talent recognition. Thirdly, also on the anvil is ensuring talent with domain skills in the above-identified areas from the concerned geographical location, with particular emphasis on legal engineers who can strategize and enable the digitisation of in-house legal operations, having an expert understanding in both the legal domain as well as technology including an excellent connect with the legal market.
We have moved to a deeper focussed engagement with all teams, with a two-pronged approach – identifying longer-term prospects inside and developing them to leadership roles while hiring relevant talent with the skills identified above.
We are also into role expansion and rotation to build resilience, and lastly, a regular ongoing organisational cultural engagement initiative meant to set an open and communicative culture that is more attuned to handling diverse scenarios, customers, and challenges, while maintaining employee motivational levels.
The key to this is to not make these as tasks, but as refreshing breaks for employees; for example, product-themed competitions to keep knowledge sharp – supported by people initiatives like having major sports national events put up on the large screen conference rooms.
As a leader of an innovative fast-growing business, what will be your big advice to other founders and HR leaders of startups, SMEs, and unicorns?
As a leader of an innovative profitable business, our advice to other founders and HR leaders would be to be innovative and yet not forget the nuts and bolts, for it is the nuts and bolts that ensure the organisational sustenance and profit, while innovation is what fuels growth.
For a SaaS-based startup in India, especially one in the Legal Tech field, training talent has to be key.
The second big piece of advice is competency identification, mapping what each role needs. Talent with the requisite skills is hard to find; while business success needs talent primarily. This is a challenge that needs to be sorted on a priority, a talent availability with the needed skills is low in the concerned domain area.
The need is also to be flexible, and have employees also in flexible mode. That is key while handling a customer and client profile spread across several geographies. The third big piece of advice is simple – let the employees learn and develop, and let them spend some defined time as per their schedule on self-development. And lastly – don’t forget that all work and no play makes everyone dull in the long run!