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Insight from Francesco Albanese

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Francesco is currently in his final year of Law at Queen Mary University. Having undertaken a placement year at BCLP in our Real Estate Finance team during 2019-2020, he is due to commence his training contract in September 2022.

What tech did you use day-to-day in your role?

During my day-to-day activities, I used mainly a tool to create redline of documents. Unfortunately, I do not remember the exact name, but this has been helpful. What it does is it compare large documents together and highlight all the differences between the documents (words, letters, spacing, fonts, etc.). This is very useful when creating large batches of documents in making sure that every document is completed without typos. Additionally, this tool is beneficial in proofreading documents and making sure that the documents are delivered to the client or the counterparty in its best possible shape. Furthermore, another piece of technology which I had the opportunity of using was “Contract Express”. This software supports lawyers in the process of drafting easy to medium documents. It works very quickly: the lawyer sees a list of questions, either multiple-choice questions or free text questions, concerning the nature of the transaction. These questions could be, the name of the client’s company, the value of the transaction, the address. After having completed the questionnaire, contract express produces the drafted documents by filling in the gaps with all the information, which the lawyer has provided at the start of the process. Then, the job of the lawyer is to proofread the document, make any adjust changes, and that is it. The document is ready to go. This process reduces the time of the solicitor in drafting or copy-pasting information so that they can concentrate on the review of the legal aspects of the documentation

What opportunities are there for placement students and trainees to get involved with innovation/BCLP Cubed?

There are plenty of opportunities for Placement Students to get involved with innovation. Since the first few months of the placement, I decided to become an “Innovation Champion”, i.e. a person within BCLP who champions innovation and finds new ways to bring innovation within the department in which they are working. After a few months of using, Contract Express, BCLP allowed me to learn how to code and build the documents on the software. This has been an incredibly exciting experience which has provided me with excellent non-legal transferrable skills. Also, placement students have the opportunity to get involved with BCLP Cubed if they want to: for instance, I decided to attend a training session concerning the basic functionality of Cubed to expand my understanding of this product. Finally, during the last few months of the placement, I have worked closely with the Innovation Solution Department to ideate and plan an innovative way to manage the process of delivery of conditions precedents to broad development facility agreements.

What was the most exciting piece of tech you have used/been involved with?

I believe that the most exciting part of the placement was the Coding Sessions which I have attended with Simon Cheung from the technology team. These sessions were particularly useful to understand the work which was happening behind the curtain of Contract Express. Besides, it was very insightful to learn something which was not necessarily legal and was outside my comfort zone. The coding session not only expanded my understanding of the IT functionalities of Contract Express but also helped me learn the nature of the drafting process of certain legal documents. To properly code each word of every clause, I had to understand how specific hypothetical clauses were working in the document as a whole.

How has your perception of legal tech changed before after your placement year at BCLP?

Before starting my placement at BCLP, I always thought that legal innovation was about a fantastic legal robot stealing the jobs of paralegals. After attending a session with Caren Oxford from the Innovation Champion programme, I understood that innovation was about finding solutions to a problem. It might sound simplistic, but it is the key to proper and effective legal innovation. Technology plays a part in the innovation process, but it is not the only part. Technology is the catalyst for innovation. It supports the innovation process by playing a vital role in the innovation process. However, this process is not only composed by technology; it is also written of people and their experience, ideas and knowledge of each transaction. Thanks to the placement, I had the opportunity to learn how BCLP’s innovation strategy is solution-focused to provide clients, not only with a right technology software to solve their legal issues, but rather a software which is going to do so much more than that; a piece of technology capable of supporting the client’s business (their internal legal operation) and provide data management/analytics.