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10 Mins With

Chrissie Lightfoot

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Q: Has the industry changed drastically since you started working in it?
A: As a businesswoman I’ve been a buyer of legal services for over thirty years. I’ve worked in the legal profession and industry as a trainee solicitor, lawyer, legal futurist, speaker, writer, consultant and LawTech investor throughout the world these past fourteen years so it is inevitable that I have seen changes. But I wouldn’t say the industry has changed drastically.

There has been incremental change over a long period rather than drastic change in the short term. In the past decade or so, here in the UK (courtesy of the LSA 2007), we have experienced change and improvement in relation to regulation, policy and law which has helped foster entrepreneurism and innovation within the legal ecosystem, one of the most striking being the rise of Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs) and new ‘businesses of law’.

Q: What has been the key positive, or negative, impact of change in your area of the market?
A: LegalAI/LegalTech, once considered a nice-to-have, is now a must-have. The LegalTech market is rather vibrant at present in the UK and rapidly evolving in other nations too. The benefits of LegalTech are many, including increased automation, lower cost, and higher productivity. However, where adoption has occurred in the legal profession and industry it has been focused internally; designed to maximise profits and benefit the law firm, but not so much the client. Lawyers have been, and continue to be, reluctant to implement client-facing LegalAI. A survey by Lexis Nexis reported recently that here in the UK only 3% of law firms are aiming to focus on client-facing LegalTech. Although this may be negative, I view this as an opportunity for ALSPs to step in.

Q: Who inspires/inspired you and why?
A: The following individuals and teams have had, and are having, a profoundly positive input and impact into how we live, socialise, communicate, love, travel and work, now and in the future. They are visionaries who don’t just see the future, they create it, shape it and drive it.
I admire and am continually inspired by the likes of Elon Musk, Richard Branson, the awesome people and teams at Hanson Robotics and NASA; in particular Katharine Johnson, ‘a hidden figure’, who was a NASA mathematician and has just celebrated her 101 st birthday. She calculated and plotted the path to enable John Glenn to become the first American to successfully orbit earth in 1962. Also Tim Berners Lee and Vint Cerf (the fathers of the Internet), the Google team – Sergi Brin, Demis Hassibis (of DeepMind) and Ray Kurzweil – the IBM Watson team (in particular Dr. Peter Waggett who is the head of emerging technology), Andrew McAfee of MIT (whom I had the pleasure of interviewing and speaking with at the Nordic Business Forum in 2018). And, Ada Lovelace, the English mathematician, predominantly known for her leading work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Finally, Steve Jobs (Apple), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Jack Ma (Alibaba), Jeff Bizos (Amazon), Mark Zuckerburg (Facebook), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn). The list goes on…

Q: What has been the most valuable piece of advice given to you?
A: There have been a number of people throughout my life who have been kind enough to share their advice but if I had to choose what was the most valuable it was this: “For a happy life you must follow your heart, your gut and your dreams, for they will bring you joy, love and purpose. But listen to that small voice in your head because it may help you decide which path to take. If they conflict, ignore the voice.”

Q: If you were not in your current position, what would you be doing?
A: I’m a huge fan of John Grisham and J.K. Rowling. I’ve always dreamed of being an author whilst travelling the world in my RV and cycling. So, if I wasn’t doing what I do now I’d love to be doing exactly that; conjuring up a fiction “crime erotica” novel working up a tantalising plot including stuff I’m interested in such as law, crime, technology, the future, space-travel and cycling.