Litera CEO: Lawyers are the first line of defence when it comes to true justice

Sheryl Hoskins talks the impact of AI on the legal profession and 2023 being a "transformational" year

Litera CEO: Lawyers are the first line of defence when it comes to true justice
Sheryl Hoskins

Sheryl Hoskins was drawn to work with the legal profession because of her belief that lawyers are the world’s “first line of defence when it comes to true justice”. Since being appointed as the CEO of global legaltech firm Litera in April 2022, she has described 2023 as “transformational” for her organisation.

Hoskins sees a lot of potential in the application of generative AI in the legal space, but warns firms to check that they’re working with the right vendor and that they’re not diving into the deep end with immature legaltech tools.

In this interview, Hoskins talks listening even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, and how AI is set to significantly change the entire industry works.

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What led you to work in the legal profession, and what’s your favourite part of the job?

Before joining Litera, I worked in software technology for over 20 years. I was excited by the opportunity at Litera because of the strength of its products and its global market share. Ultimately, lawyers are our first line of defence when it comes to true justice in the world, so it was appealing to me to have an impact on the industry and how this really important work gets done. 

What is going on at the organisation? Are there any new programs and initiatives that you’re particularly interested in?

I became the CEO of Litera in April 2022, and 2023 has really been a transformational year for our organisation. We have a new leadership team that is experienced in tech SaaS growth and scale. We’ve completely overhauled our customer support system to improve our response time and the way we manage product issues, and now we also provide global 24/7 support for our customers.

We’ve improved our methods of communicating with customers and the industry to provide more transparency on everything from our product roadmap to our strategy. We’ve been working diligently with our customers to ensure we’re building the right tools and the right workflows for their firms, and I’m proud of the unique solutions we’ve created.

What legal tech initiative are you most excited about?

Like everyone, we’re really excited by the possibilities of large language models (LLMs) and generative AI technology in the legal space. Litera’s Kira products were some of the first legal AI tools in the market twelve years ago, and now we’re seeing an entire industry that is on the precipice of a massive change in terms of ways of working, and it’s exciting to be a part of that. 

What has been your proudest accomplishment in the last year or so?

My proudest accomplishment is how quickly we have improved our customer experience and the ability to build and iterate on new AI products for our customers to amplify impact. The lesson here is to really listen to your customer's needs, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, because there is so much value in that feedback and being able to act on it. 

What should the Australian legal profession focus more on?

Diversity and equity are key focus areas for us at Litera, and we’ve worked hard to build a diverse leadership team and a company that reflect that diversity, and I think that’s a place where we can always see improvement. 

What are the most common challenges you expect to see in the area of legal tech?

There’s a lot of noise in the market right now when it comes to AI technology, and firms that go with the wrong vendor can face serious risks. Whether it’s the wrong tool, or the inability to embed the tool into your workflows, when you think about cost and implementation time, that can be a big expense. Trust and security are also big factors, and law firms always have to assess software solutions against technical, legal, and ethical standards. I think we’re going to see firms get caught up jumping in too quickly with immature tools that are not enterprise-grade and losing ground to firms that have made a more thoughtful choice when it comes to their technology. 

What are you looking forward to the most in the coming year?

Our motto at Litera is, “Less busy work, more of your life’s work” and we are really delivering on that promise with our technology. We have seen the benefits of AI and are excited to bring these benefits to our customers.

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