A digital trailblazer who was recently invited to be a panellist at a prestigious London tech event, is urging law firms to break free from the constraints of its paper-based past and usher in a new era of innovation.
Barings Law’s Head of Technology and Marketing, Melanie Cope Machial, has ignited a rallying cry for the legal sector to wholeheartedly embrace a digital future and ditch outdated processes which she feels can hamper people’s access to justice.
Her plea for change comes on the heels of a guest appearance at the Zoholics event in London last month, where she shared her insights with hundreds of industry experts.
While on stage at the Park Plaza event which welcomed 800 people, Melanie advocated for greater tech driven integration within law firms and outlined how Barings Law has harnessed the power of cloud based software, Zoho One, to dramatically streamline operations.
She now feels more law firms should join the digital movement within their practices:
“I was honoured with an invite to speak at the event.
“One thing that I’ve come to realise is that a lot of law firms are stuck in the past. They’ve been doing something in a particular way for many years and are probably a bit scared of change.
“It’s rather unsettling to consider that many still rely on paper-based procedures and only invest in on-premise infrastructure. In the event of a catastrophe leading to the loss or damage of client records, the consequences would be a devastating and irreparable loss for both the firm and the clients seeking justice.
“At Barings Law, we’ve witnessed significant enhancements in case processing, resulting in increased client satisfaction scores. We’re also no longer reliant solely on conventional communication methods with our clients, enabling seamless transmission of critical updates and interactions through our website. Technology has unquestionably played a pivotal role in this transformation.
“It’s been nice seeing the lightbulb moments with staff too who’ve all actively embraced the change.”
Addressing the advent of artificial intelligence, Melanie dispelled fears emphasising that AI should be embraced.
She highlighted the role of automation in liberating legal staff from arduous administrative tasks, affording them more time for substantive legal work. Manchester based Barings Law’s commitment to this is exemplified by its integration of AI alongside Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to expedite document processing and manage certain task allocation automatically.
Crucially, Melanie stressed that while technology can be a powerful tool, it should augment, not replace, the human touch in the legal industry, especially when dealing with vulnerable clients who require empathetic support.
“Although artificial intelligence might evoke fear in some, it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future but we shouldn’t fret about its possibilities,” she added.
“We’ve witnessed remarkable advancements facilitated by companies like Open AI who have made Large Language Models (LLMs) more accessible than ever before.
“The essence of human involvement will remain indispensable and instead of succumbing to fear, let’s welcome these changes with open arms.”
As a woman in tech, Melanie also acknowledged the challenges she faced throughout her career, highlighting the need for more females to enter STEM fields.
She recounted instances of discrimination but remained resolute in her commitment to pave the way for more women to pursue tech careers, declaring that there has never been a better time to do so.
“While Barings Law has been wonderful in championing its female staff, women continue to face discrimination across this industry,” she said.
“In the past, I’ve encountered instances where people attempted to explain things to me twice, seemingly assuming I didn’t grasp the concept the first time. Regrettably, it’s not uncommon for women’s viewpoints in the tech sector to be met with scepticism and while such experiences are frustrating, they are, unfortunately, unsurprising.
“To aspiring women in tech, my message is unequivocal: Pursue your passion fearlessly, without hesitation or self-doubt. Dive headfirst into the field because you possess the skills and potential to excel.”