Cristina Jimenez Savurido is the Founder and President of FIDE (Fundación para la Investigación sobre el Derecho y la Empresa), a Spanish foundation dedicated to the exchange of ideas and fostering debate in the legal world. It focuses not only on contents but also on the perspectives that public administration lawyers, company lawyers and law firms may have, in order to seek better laws that better suit the needs of companies and citizens by making its application simpler, more direct and more effective.
Leaders League. To whom does FIDE propose these changes?
Cristina Jiménez Savurido. The information and content of the forums are presented to FIDE parliament, government, and the heads of law firms and companies. The value of these analysis is that they are the consensus of a set of professionals who represent all prospects on whether one piece of legislation is better than another and whether some legislation needs improvements.
Leaders League. What are the biggest obstacles in 2017 legal market?
CJS. Traditional subjects such as commercial law, corporate law, and tax law are being looked at with a renewed focus. The objectives of these laws are being transformed as we analyze the responsibilities of managers, the roles of companies within society, the perspective of the consumer in all activities which they are involved in.
Also, there is a lot of talk about regulatory changes concerning data protection, a very important change in terms of financial regulation. A report has been submitted to data protection authority recommending for example adapting consent for the use of data obtained by companies, advertising agencies, and transparency in the banking industry. This topic is attracting much interest as well as all matters related to the internationalization of Spanish companies and foreign investments in Spain.
Leaders League. What industries are attracting foreign investment in Spain? And what is your opinion on the state of the real estate industry?
CJS. Essentially it focuses on the chemical, shipbuilding, leather, and automotive industries. Although the real estate industry is growing again, its growth is slower than other industries due to a realignment of the real estate market.
Leaders League. What Spanish firms are showing the most growth?
CJS. The firms growing the most are international firms with offices in Spain and Spanish firms that have agreements in the international arena. However, a rapidly increasing sector are boutique firms. These are smaller firms that are clearly specialized in a specific sector such as financial, IP or technology.
Leaders League. Are these boutique firms applying Legal tech?
CJS. Firstly, it is important to understand that larger firms had already incorporated technology in their work process long before this term was coined. For example, data collection management, that is using software to have more up-to-date information on many subjects and have a standardized way of preparing contracts.
However, legal tech goes further than this. It refers to new technologies applied to the solution of conflicts or issues in which the lawyer provides less value. For example, minor conflicts that may arise as tax issues and consumer conflicts. These conflicts can be replaced by technological processes that give an effective and less expensive solution to the users.
However, specialized law firms (boutique firms) are incorporating this technology where the lawyer's work focuses on what brings more value when advising/counseling. Adding value to their work involves having a qualified advisor with greater knowledge of the economic sectors and the savings that are being applied in the sectors, training that goes beyond traditional legal work to cover strategy, economics, science, and technology.
Leaders League. What issues arise with legal tech?
CJS. I would not call it problematic, but more an evolution of legal systems in other productive activities. What I do believe is that it will eliminate jobs that did not really bring specific value to legal advice. With legal tech, some jobs can be replaced by technological processes. For example: a lawyer who analyses thousands of documents to look for words, connections in each document or what sense hundreds of cross-emails between the parties may have. Yet, what will never be replaced is the lawyer who defines what is relevant in each document and the value this brings to each case. This happens in many other professions, not only in the legal sector.
Today, lawyers have to be highly qualified with international insight and knowledge, a clearly international vision and skills far beyond the legal, that take in a broader knowledge that allows them to be more adaptable in an increasingly complex international context.