02 May Member Case Study: in2law
Using a platform based on cloud computing, a Milanese legal services provider, in2law, is on a mission to shake up the traditional way in which law firms serve their clients.
Founded in 2016 by four entrepreneurs with experience in technology and outsourcing as well as law, in2Law sees an opportunity to create a Europe-wide network of legal services provision tailored to the needs of a 21st century economy.
Instead of a plush office staffed by sharply suited partners, in2law is using technology to connect its legal experts with clients, to develop easy-to-use legal tools and, ultimately, to automate paralegal work that doesn’t truly need bespoke treatment.
“We provide outsourced in-house lawyers, as our clients need somebody who speaks their language, and who understands their needs, better than traditional law firms do,” says Sibilla Ricciardi, chief executive of the up-and-coming Italian enterprise.
Prior to co-founding in2law, Ms Ricciardi spent 12 years at Microsoft, where she was general counsel for the software empire’s Italy operation.
“Having been an in-house lawyer for so long, I had a different perspective from lawyers in most law firms,” she says. “I realised there was a big gap between the needs of companies and provision from law firms.”
There is a need, she argues, for greater alignment on objectives between corporate clients, who want efficient provision while keeping costs down, and outside counsel.
“Our thinking is more connected with the client – with their language, their behaviour, their priorities,” says Ms Ricciardi.
On top of that, she identified a pool of poorly used legal talent: women with children and former senior in-house lawyers, whose family commitments are often incompatible with unending hours of office work.
“I have a lot of friends who, after they have children, find it difficult to fit their lives around working in an office – that’s a big problem,” she says. “Why should we waste all that talent?”
Ms Ricciardi teamed up with three others: Marco Pietrabissa, a serial start-upper with experience of outsourcing services; Angela De Giacomi, a specialist in labour law and Vincent Pickering, a senior lawyer bringing international experience gained in Brussels, the US and the UK.
The catchy, lower case name of in2law is a clue to its approach. The firm is a mixture of technology start-up and law firm – and its model is squarely based on the cloud.
There are three broad advantages to cloud computing for a firm such as in2law. The first is around smart working – allowing staff to work nimbly and flexibly.
“We believe people should be able to work from wherever they want,” says Ms Ricciardi. “If you go back to being a mother – if your kid is sick, you’ll want to stay at home but you’ll also want to work. Cloud technology allows you to do that in a secure way.”
The second advantage revolves around security and storage. For a law firm, privacy and confidentiality is paramount, and investment in dedicated secure servers can be a daunting financial commitment for start-up operators.
“The information we handle is pretty sensitive – and investment in security is a significant cost,” says Ms Ricciardi. “The cloud is a big enabler – with the cloud you can command a level of security you may not be able to achieve if everything is stored on your own servers.”
Thirdly, cloud computing makes it easy to share, track and review materials – both with colleagues and with clients.
“We’re able to hold everything in one place – it’s clean and well organized,” says Ms Ricciardi. “Trackability of work is very important. Cloud technology makes it easy to track who’s reviewed documents, who’s made changes and you can go back to previous versions without trouble.”
At present, in2law has 15 lawyers/in-house counsels – but it is in expansionary mode and is planning to grow to cover al Continental Europe countries. The online model can help its experts to live in one country but advise clients based in another: “We have a system that’s suitable for expat lawyers. If, for example, somebody moves to Italy but isn’t qualified as a lawyer in Italy, they can advise clients in their country of origin using our cloud model.”
Cloud computing, according to in2law, will be useful in developing tools to allow clients to do certain legal tasks themselves – including management of relatively simply contracts which do not require bespoke treatment on every occasion.
Ultimately, artificial intelligence tools ought to be able to carry out more complex tasks presently handled manually – and the cloud will be crucial in ensuring that such services are readily accessible to clients.
“As attorneys, we do certain work that’s very well paid but that really could be done by a machine,” says Ms Ricciardi.
The law, she says, in common with many other industries, is adapting to a new reality. In the long-term, the workplace will look very different. Already, perceptions are beginning to change.
“Although we’re based in Milan, one of our lawyers works out of Venice because her personal life is there,” says Ms Ricciardi. “We really feel her presence though – it’s as if she’s here. We’re completely connected with her. We always laugh that it’s as if we’re even eating our lunch with her.”