29th May 2024

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The Impact of Legal Technology on International Law with Sneha Ashtikar-Roy, the Head of Marketing at Jus Mundi | Furia Rubel Communications, Inc.

14 min read

[author: Jennifer Simpson Carr]

In this episode of On Record PR, Jennifer Simpson Carr goes on record with Sneha Ashtikar-Roy to discuss how legal technology is shaping the future of the profession.

Sneha is the head of marketing at Paris-based Jus Mundi, a legal tech company that helps the legal community to build winning strategies with exclusive global legal intelligence and AI-powered search technology.

Sneha began her career as an associate at an international law firm in Paris where she gained invaluable experience in the legal industry. However, after five years, her creative instincts led her to switch careers and pursue marketing.

Sneha is passionate about discussing a variety of topics related to marketing and business development, including networking, revenue growth, strategies, and personal branding. In addition to her love for marketing, she has a strong interest in learning new languages and immersing herself in foreign cultures. While she has yet to master Japanese, Sneha enjoys cooking international cuisines and exploring new foods from around the world.

Jennifer Simpson Carr: I was so excited to hear that you love immersing yourself in new cultures, as do I. We have just figured out that we will both be in Budapest in two short weeks. Not only do we get to meet virtually today, but we may get to meet in person in Budapest in May.

Sneha Ashtikar Roy: I am super excited and looking forward to meeting you in person, connecting back with Gina, and having a cultural new experience in Budapest.

Your history with the agency and with Gina goes back many years. Can you tell me more about that?

I quite recently had quit law, and as Gina would describe, recovering lawyers, you know? We connected instantly over lunch at a marketing conference in Dana Point, California, and I happened to sit next to her. We had this conversation about being the recovering lawyers, discussing our past and how we ended up in marketing.

That was the first time we met, and we’ve stayed in touch. I also got involved in her book.

I am a very firm believer that opportunities can just happen, as we are meeting in Budapest, coincidences like that. I feel my meeting with Gina was just meant to be and now we are very good friends. I’m also happy to be doing this podcast.

Jennifer Simpson Carr: The power of the legal community is so strong. While it seems so big, it really is such a small legal network. I’m thrilled that you all met so many years ago and the relationship has continued.

I know that you have such a unique perspective as a former practicing lawyer now in legal tech, and I am excited to be talking to you today about your perspective.

How do you view the state of legal technology globally, and where do you see the biggest differences geographically?

I think me working at legal tech, that just makes me more aware of why legal tech even matters.

And just to throw in some numbers, this industry is going to grow even more than 20 billion US dollars by 2026. I think it’s about 13% annual growth every year of new legal tech innovation and new companies coming on the market. And Jus Mundi is obviously one of the fairly new players in the global legal tech market.

But as a lawyer, it just shows that innovation is constantly happening and the formerly very traditional legal community, the legal profession, truly, from all aspects, be it case management, be it legal research, we are seeing tremendous growth in the support tools that lawyers can have.

But at the same time, in my opinion, when I was a lawyer, (and this is now way back, I quit law in 2018) around that time in Europe, I wouldn’t say that legal tech was there to support my practice. It certainly didn’t exist back then. And I probably wouldn’t have quit law, I think, if I had them as a support. That just demonstrates, I think, the gap that we have on some of the needs.

But overall, I’ve always seen London and Silicon Valley and the US being more active in legal tech. And that’s also on the adopting legal tools and not being worried that, “Oh, this tool is going to probably replace me as a lawyer and that’s a threat for me.”

But when I was practicing law, it was close to none. And it’s clearly not the same today. Jus Mundi is Paris-based, but there are two other legal tech companies – also French innovation, but having global markets. I’ve seen that as a distinction between Europe versus the other big countries all around the world.

And in Asia, there’s still, I think, work to be done on the adoption of legal tech. There are companies based in Asia, but once again, it’s not the same approach even for us to sell smoothly in that market. It comes with its own challenges.

Jennifer Simpson Carr: I really appreciate that perspective. I think we both know, having worked in the legal industry for so many years, the legal industry is typically behind in terms of adoption of really anything.

And so it’s been exciting to see the adoption layered with, “Could this replace my position at some point?” There’s definitely fear in technology, but it’s been great to see in so many markets the acceptance and adoption of these technologies, which is creating greater efficiency for lawyers and their clients.

Technology is impacting so many different aspects of legal globally, and I know that Legal Tech News just published an article by Gina on the impact of generative AI for legal marketing, which obviously we’re so in touch with because that’s what we do every day. I know the impact Jus Mundi has in the arbitration space.

Can you tell us more about Jus Mundi?

So Jus Mundi and AI, we are best friends, and that’s very much part of Jus Mundi.

And for those of you who don’t know us, we’re a legal tech company, very much active at the moment in the arbitration world. And that’s our focus, but the mission of the company is very simple; it’s to make global legal information accessible to the entire legal community all around the world.

And the reason why we have chosen this as our mission as part of legal tech, is we’re very much part of the legal community and we share together with the legal professionals this shared responsibility of strengthening the global rule of law. And that can only happen if everyone has equal access to global legal information.

And at the moment, in arbitration, it’s very much new. And transparency in arbitration is one of the trends. We can talk about that.

And we are very much revolutionizing the accessibility to global legal information so that lawyers are able to go to different courts and tribunals and defend their cases with proper legal information, because otherwise, how would you do all of that?

So we are playing our role to give the tech and AI infrastructure, because it’s not of any use if you host a lot of data, but you cannot exploit it as a lawyer in terms of legal research, and go faster in terms of efficiency and productivity. So that’s where our AI and the proprietary algorithm comes into play; to find the accuracy in the search results quickly.

So that’s Jus Mundi in a nutshell. And we are quickly growing. It’s been over three years that I’m at the company, and we’re about 75 people. And we announced a new office in Singapore. So we have plans to also expand in the Asian market. This is just the beginning for us.

What nuances exist for marketing in legal tech specifically? And even more specifically, what nuances are you addressing in marketing for Jus Mundi?

Jus Mundi is a product-led company. So everything is about product and data and the AI and the tech part.

Being a former lawyer helps me to decide the communication strategy, be it product launches or how we are going to do the launch. Maybe it’s on social media, maybe it’s LinkedIn Live, or that kind of stuff. Is it going to resonate with our target audience?

I face those kinds of challenges every day, and Jus Mundi happens to work with the entire ecosystem of the arbitration community, be it government to companies, to law firms, to marketing agencies now with our new product.

So each one of these personas, they’ve got their own set of needs. I cannot sometimes craft that boundary if it’s not going to work for the governments or a company or a law firm.

I think my being in marketing makes it even more dynamic for me because I didn’t get to do that when I was a lawyer in that capacity. I had my client and that’s it. I didn’t get to see the business point of view or, “How do you communicate with the government persona and product marketing” and all those kind of challenges. I get to do all of that now.

The legal industry comes up with a very traditional approach when you communicate about certain things. And I know we have to respect that on some of the serious topics, and it cannot be done with lots of emojis on social media.

But what we are trying to do in terms of marketing at Jus Mundi is to also infuse a little bit of humor. Because we all deserve fun, and law can be fun too if you think about it, to present it in a way.

It’s definitely challenging to meet the requirements of our institutional partners, our clients, and running events together. It’s super dynamic, and I love it.

What trends are you seeing in the market today, and how do they impact the service that you are providing your customers?

Speaking back about AI again – Everyone should read, by the way, Gina’s article that was published recently, which explores ChatGPT and those kinds of options.

I’m definitely seeing that with a lot of our clients who are launching chat law bots, actually relying on ChatGPT. Not on the legal confidential stuff, but the daily life.

If you’re raising a lawyer’s profile, for example, if they want to promote themselves and topics like that, I’m definitely seeing the openness from the legal community to relying on different tools. ChatGPT is just the model, but then you have different AI tools that came out of it.

It’s good to see that people are accepting AI. People used to say, “Shush. Oh, it’s going to replace the lawyers.” It’s good to see that the world is moving in a direction where innovation is embraced and we can be more productive.

Especially because we also have the AI element. The accuracy of our search results is always the question for lawyers, like, “How can you tell me that this is the best search result?”

There are lawyers working behind training the AI so you can rely on it, but having all of these other innovations around AI also helps create that trust in what Jus Mundi is doing very specifically.

And I’m pretty sure other people using AI in their legal tech companies will agree with me that it helps for that trust that there are so many innovations coming out of AI that it must be accurate enough. Never enough to remove any of the lawyers and replace them, but having that trust is definitely useful for us as an AI company.

Jennifer Simpson Carr: Particularly in the legal industry. I know that, having worked in-house for a decade, lawyers will see a mistake in a document and then suddenly the perspective is, “Now what else in this document could be wrong?” So I can see how that will translate into the technology space.

Do you have examples of where you are seeing firms or companies really capitalizing on legal tech or generative AI and using it in a way that’s creating greater efficiency and opportunities that may not otherwise exist?

I’m inclined to take Jus Mundi as an example. I think it’s a good example because we’ve met clients and they used to tell us, “I used to literally take a two-hour long train ride to go to The Hague,” to the International Law Library where you’d find all of the books, the Harry Potter-looking library. Everyone should visit for the beauty of that library.

But they were literally doing that, because otherwise, that book was just in the library and there was no digitalization of that book; it was not possible to access that information if you didn’t take that train.

How many people are going to sign up to take that train to get the full overview, get the full information?

So now that Jus Mundi exists, you have access. You just need to have a subscription. And we have open access, by the way, something very important: we don’t hide our data behind a paywall. So the equal access that I talked about is just about the efficiency that you go faster if someone is subscribed to Jus Mundi.

But having seen that revolution firsthand, that’s incredible to also see law firms appreciating the time saved; and we also have different other companies that offer these services.

There’s Ironclad. They’re the first legal unicorn company in the market, and we have not seen that happen. The legal tech industry was not as big as the FinTech or the MedTech and all of the other tech companies.

In terms of law firms and all other institutions, having all the collaboration with Jus Mundi, the trust that they have put in us, it also comes obviously with a greater responsibility that there are no data leaks, or us putting some kind of confidential information on our website. But you see the revolution, just going from the library to sitting in your office and then just browsing the same book on Jus Mundi.

I know it sounds very much like the other industries have gone past that way beyond, but I think the law firms and the legal field is catching up, so it’s not too bad.

Jennifer Simpson Carr: That’s incredible. I mean, a two-hour train ride is four hours in the day. And we know how valuable the billable hour is for attorneys to remain competitive. It really speaks to the efficiency that it creates.

You mentioned a couple times now the importance of global access to technology and information. Why is that?

Open access is extremely important for everyone, and that goes back to strengthening the global rule of law. It cannot happen if everyone is not on the same footing.

You might be a developing government without the same kind of budgets and resources to have all of the fancy legal tech tools. Even if you know they exist, you just don’t have the budget, so you’re limited on that. You are going against a very large company in an arbitration case. That company comes with a big team of lawyers and they have all of the tools. They probably have Jus Mundi. They have everything. It’s not a fair fight.

So our goal is also to not have the data that we have gathered just staying behind the paywalls. It should be accessible to everyone.

And that led us to also adopt the mission-led company form very recently, and we are making the legal necessary changes to our bylaws and setting up a strategic committee that is going to look after all of the standards that we have to meet and carbon emissions. And there are lots of obligations that come along with it. I think in the US, this company form is called a benefit corporation, if I’m not mistaken.

We are serious about our mission and open access. What does it mean? You can go without even having an account on Jus Mundi. Our search bar is very much on our website, and you can type whatever keyword you have in mind; you have the case document, or the search result pops up. You can go read whatever we have gathered and there are no limitations as to how many times you can do it.

That’s open access. And we believe those who are not able to afford it maybe due to budgetary reasons or any other obstacles, they still have the legal information. Maybe they will go slow, and that’s the impact, but they didn’t even have the access before. Open access truly helps the entire global community.

And we have a partnership with the International Labor Organization, ILO, to give Jus Mundi for free to their top list of underdeveloped countries. And I think there are about 80 countries in total on that list. Universities, governments, and whoever is in those countries use Jus Mundi for free.

So we are a legal tech company that cares about what’s going on around us. And it’s not just always about increasing our revenues and just launching innovation without caring for global justice and access to justice. Those are very touchy topics for all of us as part of the community.

It’s a beautiful mission. And that’s also one of the reasons why I like what I do. It’s meaningful, I see the impact, and it’s very much satisfactory to see how open access can improve the life of someone.

Jennifer Simpson Carr: That’s incredible. You must be so proud. I can imagine what an exciting time it is for Jus Mundi. For those that know me, one of my favorite sayings is, “A rising tide lifts all ships”, and it’s really inspiring to hear the work that Jus Mundi is doing to give access globally. So congratulations.

I am so thrilled to meet you in person in just a few weeks. We are going to have to raise a glass to your new office opening, your new company status.

It’ll be such an honor to meet you in person and to introduce you to our international affiliates, Francois Lassalle, who is also based in France, and Łukasz Walewski, who’s based in Poland; they will be with us there. I know they’ll be thrilled to meet you as well.

Can you let our listeners know where they can get in touch with you if they’d like to learn more about you or Jus Mundi?

I am very much visible on LinkedIn. So everyone can find me. I think you can type my name and my profile. I think I’m the only one with that full name. It’s very easy to find me.

And to learn about Jus Mundi, you can always follow our LinkedIn page and go experience the open access firsthand on our website. That is jusmundi.com.

Sneha Ashtikar-Roy

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sneha-ashtikar/

Jus Mundi Website: jusmundi.com

Jus Mundi LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/jus-mundi/

 

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