Industry News Legal Management Updates

5 Technology-Focused Roles Legal Departments Should Recruit For

The continued quest to form a smart, efficient legal department requires not just a talented workforce but also proper organization of the personnel.

Rob MacAdam

The continued quest to form a smart, efficient legal department requires not just a talented workforce but also proper organization of the personnel.

Advances in technology continue to both drive innovation and enable law firms and in-house counsel to adapt. However, to take advantage of these increased efficiencies and keep pace with the evolution occurring in the industry, the most advanced law firms have already started dedicating resources specifically to roles aimed at transforming the way they deliver legal services to clients.

They are making an effort to position qualified professionals as proactive guides in navigating the current legal landscape and maintaining that vision as it evolves around technological advancements. In particular, five emerging roles have developed to assist legal departments in embracing innovation and the tools and systems that drive change in the legal industry.


An overused and often misunderstood buzzword in the industry, legal innovation is simply a long overdue upgrade to the profession. An innovation manager can help identify processes and technological tools that improve quality, flexibility, speed, efficiency and decision-making.

An innovation manager can help inform partners and firm leadership about what can be done differently in delivering legal services. The role can also help account for a lack of organizational capacity to handle the task of facilitation in communicating the options. This includes monitoring legal transformation trends and opportunities, managing ideation processes, supporting lawyers with transformative product and service delivery initiatives, monitoring investment and return on investment (ROI), and identifying new market opportunities.

The continued quest to form a smart, efficient legal department requires not just a talented workforce but also proper organization of the personnel.


Building on the idea of innovation, a legal designer can apply human thinking to identify problems and find an efficient approach for procuring a solution. That solution may involve technology or simply a change in work pattern to deliver measurable value to lawyers and clients alike.

Legal designers can focus on collaboration to create a product or leverage an existing product to provide needed services. Technology is often an enabler, not the solution. A legal designer will help law firms identify and deliver value by integrating the needs of lawyers and clients with the possibilities of technology.


This position performs a specific task: engineering legal processes and knowledge for use in new digital delivery solutions. If a legal department wants to implement digital solutions to systematize legal service delivery or create new legal products or services, then it needs tech-comfortable experts in the relevant area of law to engineer the content for these systems.

Whether it's machine-learning training, an automated document, legal advice, best practice processes, legal playbook or risk and compliance checklists, legal tech systems need quality content and input.

Currently, lawyers or professional support lawyers (PSLs) often serve as knowledge engineers in addition to their traditional responsibilities. However, firms can start to identify professionals qualified to handle the technological requirements and make this a unique position. This role will likely be formalized and will serve an important support role alongside or within the PSL team.


True legal solutions architects are technologists who have strong legal domain knowledge; are proficient in a range of platforms and technologies (and, in many cases, programming languages); and can quickly and efficiently build new digital solutions, products and services to meet lawyer or client needs. This role benefits from a professional who has worked with lawyers and understands how legal departments operate.

Paralegals, trainees or even former lawyers with a strong interest in technology are ideal candidates for this role. Such a background can encourage the creation of digital solutions that may disrupt the status quo in the delivery of legal services.

Legal solutions architects must be able to handle business analysis, requirements gathering, project management and process improvement. This position would normally reside outside traditional IT, ideally aligned with the innovation manager and knowledge engineer.


Law firms that use data effectively can make better decisions and deliver valuable insights for clients, putting them ahead of their competitors.

But it is difficult to identify and assess what data to extract, determine the best method of extraction and decide how to analyze the end result. Several large legal departments already employ a data scientist or have started to recruit for the position, which includes mining, structuring in a readable form and interpreting data sets to drive results. This role strongly emphasizes visual presentation of the data to help guide decision-making within the firm or provide useful, accessible client insight.

In some cases, it might be premature to recruit for the role — a data analyst or data engineer may suffice while the firm's collation and use of data matures. Hiring a true data scientist may be like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but in due course, every law firm will employ the services of one.