Great challenge brings great opportunity

Dec 2021


Will smart contracts lead to disputes, or avoid them?

A smart contract is self-executing code that follows pre-programmed rules, which are then verifiable on a blockchain. As such they are a misnomer. They are not smart, because they can only do what they are programmed to do. They are not so much a contract as a tool...

Navigating a Growing LegalTech Marketplace

A long-held business hypothesis is that technology makes you better, faster, and more productive; it is accretive to business value. We have all seen technology that validates this, and witnessed how our organisations have reaped the benefits associated with...

How do you drive your team’s digital literacy

At KWM we are focused on building digital literacy and capability to create efficiencies for our people and our clients. We have introduced a range of connected initiatives that work together to uplift technical skills, as well as create open mindsets to encourage new...

2021 has been another year of significant challenge but also surprising opportunity. There’s no question COVID has caused upheaval and disruption, but it has also fuelled transformation for many via distributed workforces. The pandemic has dictated service delivery be enabled by digitisation and we have witnessed service excellence redefined, with significant gains realised through technology enhanced productivity. The question is, what have we learnt from this year of accelerated change? And what do we take with us into 2022 as we face uncertainty once more?

Over the past 12 months our transformation initiatives have resulted in 662% uplift in adoption of LegalTech on client engagements, which is particularly remarkable when taken in the context of the challenges faced this year. It hasn’t been a simple or easy journey, but when I look back there are three key elements that I think have contributed to this success. It’s been building a program that encourages awareness, open-mindedness and dare-to-try behaviours in our people. It’s focusing on service excellence, masterful delivery and client value. And it’s prioritising effort on tangible outcomes anchored in data.

We have shared key details of our program previously here. In the spirit of year end reflection, I’d like to share a number of memorable moments for our people, our clients and our firm in 2021 and the value realised in this challenging and ever-changing environment.

Incentivising self-directed learning to enhance digital literacy

Time is our most precious commodity, and when it comes to living through a pandemic it seems to be in even shorter supply with high levels of business activity and changes. Our people have been stretched and faced increased pressures due to isolation and the unique intertwining of work-life and home-life. So how do you engage, excite and encourage the investment of time from your people in your digital transformation journey, when every second counts?

At KWM, we provide dedicated billable equivalent hours (30 hours per lawyer, per financial year) to driving digital literacy. By incentivising our people to learn more about LegalTech tools we have enabled them to explore new ways of working and identify efficiencies that benefit our clients. In the past year alone, 53% of our lawyers have leveraged this time to record over 7,200 hours of self-development to drive capability uplift.

While increasing digital literacy benefits our people, the key value driver here is the benefits realised by our clients. Greater understanding and awareness of tools available means nothing when they aren’t used in practice. To ensure our lawyers ongoing learning results in tangible and in practice benefits for our clients, we developed our LegalTech Belts framework.

Launched in July 2021, KWM LegalTech Belts is an industry first externally validated micro-credentialling digital literacy program that codifies the competency levels of our people in the practical application of technology tools in legal work. LegalTech Belts are awarded following the assessment of the proficiency of our lawyers, with four dedicated levels to be attained. This ground-breaking initiative has resulted in 76% of our lawyers achieving at least one belt, and 1,974 Belts having been awarded to 888 lawyers since July this year. These Belts have ensured clients directly reap the benefits of our lawyers’ technology enhanced service delivery.

Encouraging sustained behaviour change and measuring adoption is key to continued forward momentum in your transformation journey. To further incentivise our lawyers to use LegalTech tools on client matters we provide a ‘boost’ to productive hours. The Multiplier is an industry first initiative that enables us to track the uptake of our LegalTech tools within our firm, providing visibility into the matter adoption rate for our technologies, and clarity around the cost savings delivered. Since launch, there has been month-on-month increases in the recording of Multiplier time and this year alone, 28% of our lawyers have supported over 500 clients on over 750 matters (and recording over 11,000 hours) utilising LegalTech, uplifting client outcomes across speed, quality and price.

Creating a road map for success

Transformation at KWM isn’t just about surviving in this new digital era – we are looking to thrive. Successful digital transformation is not only about implementing technologies, it also involves the alignment of three core pillars that together create a complex ecosystem of capabilities. These pillars are data; systems and processes; and people.

In order to avoid getting lost in such a complex ecosystem, we have designed a digital literacy model that provides a road map for our enablement, benchmarks for capability and defines the aspirational behaviours that will be attained as our organisation progresses. I shared my perspective on the value this delivers in an earlier article you can read here.

Celebrating successes and looking to new horizons

The success of our Transformation program has been felt throughout the firm in more ways than one. From our people who have the skills and confidence to take on the changing digital economy, to our clients benefiting from enhanced and more efficient processes and technology.

Earlier this year, KWM was proud to be named the Most Innovative Asia-Pacific Headquartered Law Firm in the Financial Times Asia-Pacific Innovative Lawyers program. Strengthening our reputation as a leader in the digital economy, this award reflects our focus on optimising the way legal services are delivered through technology, client-centric design and innovative thinking. It is humbling to receive this recognition and encourages us to continue striving forward, to break new ground and improve the way we deliver our service.

Next year one of my objectives is to listen more. To seek to understand in even greater detail the challenges facing our clients and our people, and identify the opportunities for future growth, so that together we can create even greater impact.


A lifelong learner and lover of sharing personal productivity hacks, it makes sense that Michelle is a major LegalTech enthusiast…even way before it was called LegalTech. Michelle is a member of our Executive Team, the Executive Director of Innovation and leads KWM’s Transformation Programme. She lives in Melbourne raising her two teenage sons and is stereotypically a coffee aficionado who loves all things French, Aaron Sorkin and Hamilton - who doesn't want to be "in the room where it happens"?  She lives in the hope that one day her two Cavoodles will listen to her rather than her husband.

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