• Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be in (or a customer of) the legal business?

As far back as I can remember I have always had three passions in my life; technology, entertainment, and non-profit. I try to maintain some aspects of all three in my life still today. In doing any business I have always relied upon and appreciated the help of legal counsel. As a computer technologist and as an entrepreneur, I frequently interact with the legal community. Perhaps the most intense interaction was during my patent applications when I was at Oracle.

  • What do you do for a living right now?

I am a marketer by passion, products guy by heart, and a technologist by profession. Currently I serve as a member of the Board and as the Chief Marketing Officer of ZorroSign.  I also serve as the founding Chairperson of the Silicon Valley chapter of the Internet Marketing Association. I also author a blog about innovation; http://PointOfIntersection.Org, a blog where technology and humanities meet.

  • What has been your greatest triumph and your greatest success in the legal services field and what did you learn from each?

As a products guy, I am trained in sympathetic listening, to be a consultant, and solve problems for my customers. Candidly, I hadn’t had much luck doing this for the legal community until I arrived at Money2020 conference in Last Vegas last year. There I was able to sit with, not one, but three different lawyers and have them tell me about their operational challenges of doing the “business of law”. I was able to convince them that with digital transformation and automation they can not only retain their billable hours but increase them by doing more in less time. I was glad they weren’t billing me in six-minute increments. (smile)

I consider this a triumph because the opportunity to develop the best solutions is only possible with understanding and appreciating (if not experiencing first hand) real life pain and challenges. At the end, I was able to showcase ZorroSign and how it offers post-execution fraud and tamper protection in court or when documents are otherwise challenged.

  • Do you think the legal industry is headed in the right direction, the wrong direction – or which direction?

From use of technology perspective, the legal industry is definitely headed in the right direction, albeit not as fast as I want it to. I appreciate that many lawyers tend to be conservative when it comes to adopting latest technologies. Rightfully so because they are liable for protecting their clients against all kinds of adverse situations. Historically, I think that’s the main reason why eSignature is not widely used and accepted today by the legal community. Until ZorroSign came into the market, there was no post-execution fraud protection for electronically signed documents. This is key in the digital world in which we all now live.

  • Who – or what – inspires you – and why?

I have always been inspired by disruptive innovations that essentially change the way we live our lives and do business. Transformative technology solutions get me excited.  Electronic Signature and Digital Transaction Management have tremendous potential to transform businesses by automating and optimizing business processes in a very secure way; closing deal in hours vs days, reducing operational cost by $15000 to $25,000 every year, and becoming environmentally responsible. That’s pretty inspiring.

  • What advice would you give to the younger generation contemplating law as a career?

We have officially entered the world of automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, electronic signatures, and digital transactions regardless of industry. The legal services market is pretty saturated. In order to differentiate themselves future generations of lawyers will need a solid educational background in a technology related field. Almost as a second profession, they will have to not only keep track of the latest technological trends, they will have to adopt the latest tools to do business.

  • How ready for change do you think the legal industry is?

I feel that the legal industry is ready to take a serious look at using solutions like ZorroSign for electronically signing large, complex, high value deals and complex transactions. There is a need to continue to educate ourselves on matters such as security, privacy, post-execution fraud protection, and business process optimization using content automation.

  • Is more – or different – leadership required? In what ways?

Given how the legal community is such an integral part of our daily business and personal life, there is a need for more entrepreneurial approach to using technology such as ZorroSign. Leadership is required in collaborating closely with the likes of ZorroSign, communicating challenges, launching pilot projects, and adopting new solutions.  I think that leading the way in technology adoption is going to be the one way law firms can differentiate themselves. Some law firms and lawyers are already leading the pack.

  • How deep do you think will be the inroads of technology in the industry?

There will be complete elimination of paper for sure. I mean fax machines are already dead. I think that mobile signing, Cloud storage, biometrics, and video are going to become mainstream.

  • In ten years, do you see an industry much as it is – or do you see new players, new technology and an altered state?

Today we have electronic banks that don’t have physical branches. Shopping malls without storefronts. I saw a DMV vending machine at a local Safeway. I’d like to have an AI Bot explain to me the 6-page fine print I am about to sign. I won’t be surprised to see virtual law firms conducting business totally digitally with lawyers working from home. We will still have to meet for a round of golf though.

  • Are consultants and lawyers looking increasingly similar? Should the distinction continue?

They are not similar. I would never call a lawyer a consultant. I pay them too much to call them that. Seriously, I look to lawyers for critical legal counsel to help me navigate the complex world of business. A consultant might send me a legal document to use for a particular transaction. For brain surgery, I prefer brain surgeon.

  • What are your thoughts on the increasing availability of data to guide client-side procurement of legal services?

Customers are smart but even the smartest people get stumped when it comes to complex legal matters. I think data-driven wizards or automated guides are very useful in allowing clients to make more intelligent decisions. A self-serving model would work for simple matters like a NDA, a Consultant Contract, and other straight forward applications. AI and automation is not replacing lawyers anytime soon.

  • Lawyers have typically regulated to keep non-lawyer investors out but that’s a two-edged sword these days. What are your thoughts?

Just like truly effective corporate boards rely on diverse perspectives and experiences of individuals, investment in technology from people with different backgrounds does exactly the same thing. Companies, products and services direction guided by diverse and open perspectives from many different aspects of life are known to be the most successful. Allowing outsiders to participate may provide a means to embrace technology with higher confidence and greater adoption.

  • What’s the one most significant factor that will drive change in your view?

I think if you look at the shift in the age-demographics of working population and consumer population, it’s clear that millennials, Gen-Y, Gen-Z who are most comfortable with technology, most connected, most mobile, most demanding, least patient, and more tech savvy will prove to be the biggest factor that will continue to drive the change.

  • Are we seeing the demise of the “profession” and the real emergence of the “business” of law?

Generally speaking, commoditization of service has the tendency to shift people’s perception towards the mediocre. However, I look at the legal industry differently. I see this as an evolution of both and really an increase in choices for the clients as the legal community increasingly embraces technology to run its business and, as most cases lawyers deal with, have some technology component. “Legal Business” to me is just a more systematic approach to working and being in the legal profession.

  • What do you consider is the greatest challenge facing the industry?

Perception of being left behind. The other day a lawyer asked me to “print-wet sign-FedEx” a 48 page document. 46 pages were just text and did not require any action from me. He did not allow me to eSign the document. I would have love to send him the document via ZorroSign.

  • What do you see as the greatest opportunity for the sector looking forward?

I see three areas of opportunities: A) Adopting the latest and greatest technology.  B) Influencing the policies and regulations around use of technology such as eSignature C) Making the legal business more efficient and cost effective.

  • Do you think law can improve its track record on diversity and inclusion? How?

Yes, it can. Its already happening and tech is already breaking down the barriers of opportunity. We have a long way to go but we are moving in the right direction.  To me personally, if somebody is great at their job, you will hire them regardless of their gender, color, etc. I’d hate to lose a case because I didn’t have the best lawyer to be on my side.

I’m delighted to see some of the school-based initiatives encouraging the participation of young women especially. I think some of the “Girls Who Code” might find their way into law schools after their undergraduate degrees in computer science and that can only be good for business for clients and lawyers.

  • Will the current regulatory framework around law help or hinder it in the future

Too much of anything is bad not least in the area of regulations. Having said that, regulations serve a very important purpose. At the same time, we need provisions in the regulations that allow flexibility and being open to allow to pilot new technologies and share feedback with tech solution developers. The financial services industry has traditionally been very conservative when it comes to adopting new technologies and it has been the hardest industry for which to develop tech solutions. But look at what they have accomplished with FINTECH. I think LEGALTECH is similar to that and it’s ultimately for the better, both for the legal service providers and clients.

  • Who do you think are the greatest influencers on the industry these days?

First, highly advanced technology companies who employ these lawyers to work for them. Some of the great tech solutions have the opportunity to influence the shape of the legal market and inspire new generations of participants.

Second, group of lawyers who live on the cutting edge or rather bleeding edge of technology. I am not just talking about patent lawyers but, in addition, the growing number of creative and curious lawyers who are experimenting with and investing in companies that offer electronic signatures, mobile biometrics, AI, automation, digital document collaboration, and other latest technologies. That would be most of HPC subscribers.

  • If you had to do it all over again, would you? Or what would you do differently?

That’s easy. I would not change a thing. I’d do everything exactly the same way, right down to ‘rolling pennies for pizza’ and driving my Datsun B210 with busted old front seat. I also appreciate the roadblocks and nay-sayers along the way because they only made me stronger, more creative, and more determined to succeed. Most importantly I am thankful to so many mentors, supporters, colleagues, and friends who have helped me along the way.

  • If a law firm was a startup pitching for investors, would you be an investor?

If the pitch was given by an AI BOT using machine learning and it talked about using intelligent forms, eSignatures, biometrics, and document forensics, I would.


Wildcard questions:

  • If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

I’d be in the entertainment industry.

  • What would you like to be known for?

The man with the most interesting stories wins.

  • What would surprise everyone if they knew (they may now).

I have performed on stage since the age of 8. To pay for college and even after I graduated, I sang, did stand-up comedy, did voice overs, and held all kinds of backstage jobs.

  • What’s your favorite hobby or activity outside of law?

Mountain Biking and Jeep off-roading.

  • What’s your favorite sports team?

Chicago Bulls and Manchester United.

  • What’s your favorite city?

London and Maui

  • What’s your favorite food?

Greek

  • What’s your nickname – and why?

It’s so sad, I don’t have one.


Within 6 months of its re-branding exercise ZorroSign eSignature technology and Advanced Digital Transaction Management (DTM) platform was recognized in four distinguished awards, namely the following: Aragon Research Hot Vendor Award for our Advanced DTM solution in 2017, Global Innovator by Aragon Research Global Report on DTM in 2018, Top 10 Banking Technology Provider in Middle East by CIO Applications, and Top 25 FinTech Company in Asia Pacific by CIO Outlook.