Sirisha Gummaregula is COO of QuisLex.
How did you become involved in legal tech?
Strong, dynamic women will be found at the forefront of any innovation and it is great to see them being acknowledged by important organizations such as the ABA. I am honored to be included in this great list of colleagues and friends.
As an M&A lawyer with Shearman & Sterling, I managed several large M&A matters and often looked at ways to use technology to synthesize and analyze data better. When I moved as the AGC to Quest Diagnostics, I was responsible for Six Sigma in the legal department and I learned to overlay Six Sigma and technology with legal to minimize legal risk. At QuisLex, as the COO of a leading tech-enabled services company, I am constantly using data analytics and the latest in technology to help solve clients’ issues. We continually evaluate new technology for our clients for their corporate and litigation needs and this keeps me involved in the latest trends and future possibilities in legal tech. My journey from a law firm to in-house to a tech-enabled service provider has gotten me exposed to and increasingly interested in how technology can be used to solve business problems.
What projects have you been focused on recently?
Several. We have worked closely with our clients on several large tech-enabled initiatives. To name a few: a large M&A matter where we helped our client transfer billions of dollars of servicing rights in a short period of time by developing some custom AI solutions to complement our trained team of M&A experts who worked on the matter; large scale restructuring of another client’s legal spend that helped them achieve tens of millions of dollars of savings that year; several end-to-end contracts management initiatives for our clients where we have married the latest in technology with our services to provide contracts management solutions that reduce both their risk and cost; some large scale tech build-outs in the derivative space for financial institutions.
Is there a legal tech resource of any kind that really helped you when you were starting out in the field?
I can’t say there is any one particular legal tech resource, as once you know what you are trying to achieve, you can employ all the resources at your disposal to get the best results. We constantly analyze our processes to see what can be automated, made better with technology both internally and for clients. In fact, we have an objective that each year a certain percentage of our work has to become automated. This requires me to stay abreast of developments in AI, predictive analytics tools, contract management tools, etc. on an ongoing basis. Also, our quality group, legal technology group, and our development group routinely test and analyze new tools and develop custom tools for specific client needs. I find them to be a treasure house of information on the latest technologies and trends.
What technology do you think lawyers could look at in a different way that would benefit society?
While there is a lot of hype around it I believe it is Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI, when developed and used correctly, can provide great access to synthesized data that can be used to reduce risk and cost. We use analytics in all of our verticals (litigation/regulatory, M&A, contracts, compliance, and legal spend) and constantly evaluate our clients’ processes and technology to see how we can automate, perform more business-friendly analytics quickly, reduce cycle time for their contracts or for making regulatory productions, bring about consistency in their approach across multiple divisions or geographies and the like. Lawyers, if they are more open to seeing technology more as an enabler as opposed to the much-hyped replacer, will be able to achieve good results for their clients. Technology and AI will replace portions of what lawyers do but I believe it will only allow us all to do things more efficiently and in a cost-effective manner.
I am also keen to see how AI’s applications can help the development of women in society through education platforms being more broadly available and also help elevate women out of poverty in the developing world. The dissemination of knowledge and sharing of learning experiences is the very reason that we have reached the stage of advancement that we have.
What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in legal tech?
Just go for it. You don’t need to be an expert to understand and use tech. In fact, the less you know, the better, as it allows you to look at technology more from a business-needs perspective as opposed to just tech capability. Once you get started you will be amazed at how quickly your knowledge and comfort with tech grows.
I would also encourage women to reach out to others for advice and direction. Women are particularly good at supporting each other and are increasingly at the forefront of technology as they are in many other fields.
Give a shout-out to another woman in legal tech who you admire or have learned something from!
Rose Battaglia, COO of Legal at Deutsche Bank. Simply ahead of her time. Started implementing technology solutions more than a decade ago when most of us were not aware. A superb leader who builds teams that last and is a visionary.
Aine Lyons, the head of legal operations at VMWare. Instrumental in building a legal department of the future and leverages technology to the maximum in her company. Aine is a shining example of an inspirational and collaborative leader and a great supporter of women in her organization and the legal profession, more broadly.