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Martin Davidson – My Journey from Corporate Counsel to Tech Start-Up ThoughtRiver

Having been at ThoughtRiver a little under 3 months now, I wanted to share my experiences and learnings of the legal tech world thus far – its’ certainly been busy!

The world we live in is changing fast. We find ourselves in an ever-evolving society in which we are expected to continuously adapt to survive. With pricing models leaner than ever before we find ourselves placing more and more emphasis on cost control across business operations. Legal departments certainly have no place to hide.

As an in-house lawyer before arriving at ThoughtRiver, I felt this on a daily basis. I had to constantly challenge myself to ensure I was working on the right things, at the right time and to the right extent. Prioritisation was critical. In an ever-changing global business, the challenge for continuous innovation and to stay one step ahead meant that this was by no means an easy feat.

My role as an in-house lawyer required adaptability, strong resilience and a fearlessness for change. But whilst I could control and develop my behavioural attributes and look to coach a similar outlook in colleagues, the daily innovation I saw across the business as a whole was not being demonstrated at the same pace within our own legal operations. We needed to get on the front foot and pro-actively respond to the inevitable challenge to do more with less.

On joining ThoughtRiver I was able to attend the LegalGeek conference. The disruption movement was out in force, not so much purely amongst the legal services market as you might expect, but beyond this into fundamentally challenging the way lawyers operate day to day. This covered many aspects from promoting a more sustainable and enjoyable existence, to the tools that allow lawyers to do the work they enjoy. Empowering them to demonstrate their best attributes, build the best relationships and make the best commercial decisions we can.

As CLO for ThoughtRiver I now have the opportunity to support my peers in the disruption of how in-house lawyers operate. I am able to make a positive change.

ThoughtRiver Review was designed with in-house legal teams in mind. It uses machine learning capability to interpret the meaning in your contracts. It understands your contractual position and, unlike many other platforms in the market, it is able to effectively advise on the risk of that contract. With its deeper understanding of such contracts, in conjunction with your playbook, it provides you with a personalised risk score. Better still, it can empower your business colleagues, enabling them to decide whether or not they require legal resource – helping save time and money. Defining and embedding your policies solidifies your risk appetite throughout the business, allowing you to have confidence in judgements being made across departments. Not only is this good practice, it also helps protect against lost knowledge when any of your lawyers leave the team.

Designed for the problems I faced as an in-house lawyer, ThoughtRiver’s Review software has the potential to transform your operations and in doing so, the motivation of your team. I now see a world where contract review workflows are simplified, streamlined and more cost effective. ThoughtRiver Review further simplifies the triage process, so lawyers don’t need to be involved in assessing whether or not a contract needs to be looked at.

So in my short few months at ThoughtRiver, what have I learnt? I feel I now understand what it means to be a Product Owner with the responsibility for driving forward product development in a new and exciting market. I have greatly enjoyed working with such bright development and contract analysis teams who have such passion for bringing their expertise to the legal sector, and changing it for the better.

There is no doubt that there is genuine excitement and intrigue in the legal sector today. Whilst it has broad reach, it’s a collaborative community with a very bright future.

And to my future… I am looking forward to helping lawyers like me find a new way. A better way. Please get in touch if you’d like to hear more and have an interest in joining me on my journey to transform the lives of lawyers globally.