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By Yin Wilczek
The legal industry is experiencing an “explosion” of technology, Nitin Batra, global chief operating officer in Citigroup Inc.’s Office of the General Counsel, told Bloomberg Law.
“This is a really exciting time in the legal industry” in terms of both in-house and law firm work, said Batra, who helps run one of the largest legal departments in the world, spanning close to 100 countries.
Developments in the areas of contract life cycle management, deal technology, big data, and legal operations have the potential in the near future to transform the way in-house legal departments do business, Batra said. For example, he said, tools to manage contracts—from the initial data gathering phase all the way to reuse in subsequent transactions—have rapidly increased.
Citi itself has gone live with a number of tools, “especially with regards to some of the regulatory pressures and some of the regulatory commitments that the financial services industry is facing right now,” Batra continued. “It is becoming harder to meet those commitments and expectations without the use of these technologies.”
Batra spoke to Bloomberg Law Oct. 17 on the sidelines of the Association of Corporate Counsel’s annual meeting in Washington.
In terms of challenges, many areas of legal technology are nascent, and it can be difficult to separate hype from reality, Batra said. Legal technology also requires an initial investment, not only in the new developments but also for training.
Legal issues also abound, Batra said. For example, as vendors improve their tools and knowledge based upon the data of their initial customers, how will they handle the proprietary or trade secret issues that arise? “There are a ton of these types of” questions that the industry, policy makers and regulators will need to grapple with, he said.
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