Legal tech made simple

Interview with Bernadette Bulacan, Lead Evangelist, Icertis

May 01, 2020 Dom Burch
Legal tech made simple
Interview with Bernadette Bulacan, Lead Evangelist, Icertis
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Legal tech made simple
Interview with Bernadette Bulacan, Lead Evangelist, Icertis
May 01, 2020
Dom Burch

In this podcast Bernadette draws down from her experiences as an assistant general counsel, law firm partner and legal tech entrepreneur. 

Bernadette describes the digital transformation of the legal profession and specifically the modern legal department. Giving examples of her expertise which includes the adoption of legal technologies, data and performance metrics for legal departments, and other innovative practices that are transforming the practice of law.

One of the reasons she was so attracted to coming into CLM is after speaking to Icertis CEO Samir Bodas. She'd always known this having worked in contracting, but he said: "Do you realize that every dollar in and out of an organization is represented by a contract", and it was this simple phrase that was such an epiphany to her. 

In Bernadette's view contracting is having its day. If you'd asked her six months ago how many people knew what force majeure was, she would say a very small group of individuals globally. We all now know what force majeure is! 

Tune in to find out more...

Show Notes Transcript

In this podcast Bernadette draws down from her experiences as an assistant general counsel, law firm partner and legal tech entrepreneur. 

Bernadette describes the digital transformation of the legal profession and specifically the modern legal department. Giving examples of her expertise which includes the adoption of legal technologies, data and performance metrics for legal departments, and other innovative practices that are transforming the practice of law.

One of the reasons she was so attracted to coming into CLM is after speaking to Icertis CEO Samir Bodas. She'd always known this having worked in contracting, but he said: "Do you realize that every dollar in and out of an organization is represented by a contract", and it was this simple phrase that was such an epiphany to her. 

In Bernadette's view contracting is having its day. If you'd asked her six months ago how many people knew what force majeure was, she would say a very small group of individuals globally. We all now know what force majeure is! 

Tune in to find out more...

Dom Burch:   0:07
Welcome back to Legal Tech Made Simple with me, Dom Burch. I'm not a lawyer and I'm not a techie, which makes me perfectly qualified to make legal tech simple. And I'm absolutely delighted to be joined today by Bernadette Bulacan, who's the lead evangelist from Icertis. Now Bernadette can draw down on her experiences as an assistant general counsel, law firm partner and legal tech entrepreneur. She's a frequent speaker regarding the digital transformation of the legal profession and specifically the modern legal department. Bernadette's expertise includes the adoption of legal technologies, data and performance metrics for legal departments and other innovative practices that are helping transform the practice of law. Bernadette, it's an absolute pleasure to have you on the podcast

Bernadette Bulacan:   0:52
Dom. Thanks so much for having me.

Dom Burch:   0:54
Tell our listeners a little bit about your background. How did you get into legal tech in the first place? And I believe it goes back to the kind of early dot com era.

Bernadette Bulacan:   1:03
It certainly does. So I loved your intro because I am a lawyer by trading kind of ah, kind of a moon lighter when it comes to technology, but I've always been so very interested in startups and technology. And so I had started my practice with a Silicon Valley firm called Venture Law Group, working with startups and entrepreneurs doing venture capital financing and transactions. And, you know, it is kind of funny that we're in a global crisis right now because I just feel it in my career has been about global crisis. So I was part of the dot com bust. I was part of the boom for a bit than the bust. It was after the bust that I joined a team of lawyers that were developing, which would be one of the leading e billing technologies for corporate legal departments. Serengeti in the ebilling tool within Serengeti  tracker. That's where I really cut my teeth. On learning about legal tech development, the pains and challenges that legal departments were having, especially as it pertained to outside counsel. I spent several years at Tracker, went back and did a little interlude back in private practice, but eventually came back to that original team at Serengeti. And it was really they're at Serengeti and after we sold  to Thomson Reuters, where again, another global crisis happened and you know, 2008 and I was on the front lines of watching this changing legal market. A lot of the lessons that I learned in 2008 in the recession. I think, uh, will play out here, post this pandemic. But it's been so exciting for me in each of these steps in my career is just to see how technology has really transformed the practice.

Dom Burch:   2:58
And there are these moments aren't there, throughout the kind of recent history where things like the dot com crash and financial crises and so forth, those act as real catalyst don't they? For change. And you see real leaps then made by sectors and industries. And I guess what the legal profession is going through now is this kind of forced home working the need to be able to share information more seamlessly. And actually, you know, some of those old fashioned practices of wet signatures and all that stuff are having to go whether or not people have wanted to let give them or not.

Bernadette Bulacan:   3:32
Yeah, absolutely. First of all, I just want to shout out to all my friends and colleagues that are, you know, working parents, working lawyers, homeschoolers. This is a crisis like no other, but again, to your point digitization is our only outlet, so more than a catalyst. It is our sole way to interact, whether it's professionally, socially outside, kind of our nuclear families. The good news is we've always had the tools, and I think the thing that has always been the hurdle has been mindset, especially for attorneys, you know, as lawyers we're taught to be very deep in a in a particular subject matter. We get very comfortable on the box that we put ourselves in, and sometimes we are forced like we are today to break out of the box and feel uncomfortable about how we're delivering that legal service. Good news is that I think there's so many opportunities and we're seeing exactly how flexible we can be as lawyers and delivering the service. It has nothing to do with the quality of work and the that the arts of your legal advice. It really goes to delivery.

Dom Burch:   4:48
So let's go back a year and you joined Icertis, people will will have heard of Icertis, will know the software, but just tell us a little bit about the role first of all, because I think you've got the best job title in the industry. You're an evangelist. I mean, that sounds like my kind of gig. How do you, how do you get to be an evangelist?

Bernadette Bulacan:   5:06
Yes, I go around converting hearts and minds. I joke about it, I joke about it, but I'm absolutely sincere about it. So I do love technology, and I love it in the hands of lawyers. And so, uh, after when I joined Thomson, Reuters, that was part of my role was to evangelize the use of technologies, not just technology. But all of these different ways that we were looking at the relationship between in house and outside counsel, whether it was the use of alternative fee arrangements the use of alternative service providers. All of that was happening, you know, again to your point at an accelerated pace after the financial global crisis, and I had the very good fortune of being able to work with legal departments as they were looking at technologies, looking at the whys of deploying the technology, how they were going to measure success. I was both student and teacher and went around the world again, mostly focused at that time on e-billing the data that was coming out of these systems and really working with really innovative general counsel to think about, what in addition to the automation, the efficiency, what else can we gain from these systems? What data can we take out of these systems? And how could we use that data to tell a different story about how you work? What we've contributed, and I believe that CLM offers that all over again. So I am very thankful, actually, for these innovative legal departments, all of these legal department ops professionals that have been ushering in technology because they're the ones that have really created this groundswell in this confidence for lawyers and legal departments to embrace that technology. And now that they've had comfort and things like e-billing e-discovery, they are ready to look at other other parts of their practice, including contracting, to embrace technology, to look at opportunities to tell a different story, to talk about data. And I am so excited about joining the Icertis team to do that because this is the next trajectory for legal departments. And now they're, now we're starting on this other trajectory.

Dom Burch:   7:28
And what kind of things are some of the customers of Icertis saying to you when you go out and meet them? Quite often, we're bumping in now to large companies, large law firms, particularly legal teams that might be displaced globally, saying, Do you know what we really need? We need a digital front door that just helps triage all of the incoming requests from our own people and helps us navigate and filter and sift, and in some cases, even self serve some of these legal documents that, you know, gosh, even going back two or three years would have been would have been unheard off. So what kind of things are customers telling you that is their pressing need now?

Bernadette Bulacan:   8:05
I've been talking to several of our customers especially right now in the pandemic. You know, the fact is, is that business has to continue. Contracting has to continue, I think one of the reasons why I was so attracted to coming in to CLM is when I spoke to our CEO Samir Bodas. I've always known this, because I've worked in contracting. I've done transactions. But he said to me, You know, Bernadette, you do realize that every dollar in and out of an organization is represented by a contract, and it was this kind of a simple, simple phrase was such an epiphany to me. So I share that now because again, business needs to continue. Contracting needs to continue. Contracting is having its day. If you asked me six months ago how many people knew what force majeure was, I would say a very small group of individuals globally. We all know what force majeure is. So I believe contracting ishaving its day contracting teams are feeling pressure. They're being asked, to take a look at their global agreements. Better understand what's in them, how flexible they are what other suppliers might be able to provide each of these widgets in and all of the all of these goods. Other contracting things are looking about again flexibility in the relationship because right now everything is so uncertain, One of our customers said to me, now that we've digitized their agreements, they were early adopters, you know, he was able to say, you know, first of all, we were able to work from home in transition without interruption because our teams were just so used to working on the platform. So that type of efficiency, in and of itself everyone able to work from home is incredible, especially at the start of the pandemic. They were asked to surface impacted agreements and not only look at which agreements might be impacted by geography or division again around the world. They had to be able to very quickly across a portfolio of tens of thousands of agreements, pull out specific clauses that would have been undoable in a in a manual world, let alone in a world where you weren't able to go to your to your physical steel file cabinet and pull them out. The only way that type of work is done is through technology and digitization, and the thing that was struck me so much was, he said, you know, these unsorted times being able to surface that data was their currency as a legal and contracting team because in an uncertain time, being able to deliver that data helped to feed confidence and calm. And that was priceless and pretty tremendous to hear just exactly how our customers have been relying on the system for business continuity. And they're, you know, it's hard to say that they're thriving, but I just can't imagine what this would have looked at in a manual paper world.

Dom Burch:   11:07
And so what would your advice be to perhaps one of our listeners from, you know, at a large law firm or in a large organization themselves and going, I know we need to start this journey. I want to take the first step. You know, we need Icertis in our world. What? What would your advice be to help internally get the traction they need? Because often it's the hearts and minds thing isn't it's about helping people internally understand the value and getting some early wins.

Bernadette Bulacan:   11:32
I always go back right now to the fact that this is a global pandemic. And when I look at our customers, they are big, complex organizations. My first piece of advice is to create a team of champions across your organization because that pain that is being felt is global. It is across geography is and across divisions like this is not just a legal department pain. This is a procurement pain, a commercial team, pain of CRO pain, the CFO pain and again underlying all of those. All of the work with each of those organizations are their contracts. And so I would really encourage you to find that team of champions, because that is when you can start this process of understanding where they sit, how they're contracting now and doing that early diligence you have again. This with shared pain. To really start this initiative to embrace digital transformation, if not now, when you know. Unfortunately, if this is the new normal, maybe it's a pandemic. But maybe it's something else and having the flexibility of digitization for your contracts in place, you know, an eventuality that you have to prepare for. But to prepare for it with again, a global team that takes into account geography, and across divisions, it sounds like a very heavy lift. I was actually just reading a an article that these little solutions everywhere and that actually becomes more of a burden. And so thinking about it globally, holistically and having a team of champions will be the best first step that you could take.

Dom Burch:   13:15
Bernadette it has been an absolute pleasure. We could talk all day long, but we can't. So thank you so much for joining us. Bernadette Bulacan. Who's the lead evangelist at Icertis. Thank you.

Bernadette Bulacan:   13:23
Thanks, Dom. Appreciate it!!