The Reinventing Professionals Podcast is hosted by Ari Kaplan and shares ideas, guidance and perspectives from market leaders shaping the next generation of legal and professional services.  

Owen Oliver, StructureFlow’s Head of Strategic Partnerships, recently joined Ari on the podcast to discuss the importance of visualising legal and business matters and trends that are driving the need for technology to aid deal structuring. In this post we have extracted and summarised some of the highlights from for you to read and there’s a link to the podcast itself at the end.

So, let’s jump right into it.

Why is visualising so important for transactions?

Legal and business matters are complex and they’re only getting more complex, so visualising is critical for understanding, for structuring, for identifying risks. 

Lots of our users are at partner level and they think through a deal from the outset using a visualisation tool. It helps them structure their thoughts.  

As the transaction progresses, visualisation is critical for comprehensive understanding across all the stakeholders on a particular matter. For example, you could have 50 people working on an M&A transaction, so to get all those people on the same page to communicate effectively what’s happening, you really need visualisations to explain that first level.  

Lawyers are very text focused and there’s a huge amount of detail going into documentation and the thinking around the transaction, so visualisation enhances the level of overall understanding and makes it easier to identify risks. 

What trends are driving the need for greater structure?

Transactional work is becoming increasingly complex. With increasing regulation, more complicated tax rules, updates in data protection globally with new regimes coming in all the time, and more complicated financial products. It’s a strong part of the StructureFlow ethos that we want to bring clarity to that complexity. 

How are professionals currently addressing this challenge manually without technology?

It varies hugely. The big four accountancy firms will spend a huge amount of time on their work product and produce good quality visualisations and steps plans, but there is a cost associated with that. Across law firms, the standard can be much lower with most struggling to use PowerPoint effectively to show what they’re trying to communicate.  

A StructureFlow customer this week used the word embarrassing to describe how their output in terms of  visualisations plans for of transaction structures. Whereas now we have customers saying StructureFlow enables them to compete with the Big Four. In terms of their work offering in planning transactional work. 

“Legal and business matters are only getting more complex, so visualisation is critical for understanding, for structuring and for identifying risks.”

Owen Oliver, Head of Partnerships, StructureFlow

Transaction professionals don’t have the bespoke tools to do what they need to do in terms of visualisation but, the problem is bigger than that. If you look at other industries, such as architecture and construction, they use Computer Aided Design (CAD) bespoke tools to be able to model, to visualise and to plan what a product or building is going to be like. There isn’t an equivalent in legal. So essentially you have lawyers & professional advisers designing these complex transactions in PowerPoint. It is not just a visualisation problem here, there’s a bigger problem about structuring in general. 

Is there resistance to leveraging technology of this type?

We face the same barriers to adoption as all new legal technologies, but fortunately for us, a lot of people have a strong connection to visualisations. Those types of people are keen adopters of StructureFlow. Fortunately, due to this emotive link that people have with visualisation and the direct link to impressing clients that our platform provides, we can gain attention of innovation teams and get good adoption. 

Where do you see the application of technology like this headed?

StructureFlow has a strong vision for this technology. We are describing the genre of software not as diagramming or visualisation but as smart structuring. We see StructureFlow as a collaborative platform that enables professionals from different organisations with different skill sets to come into the software to work through a structuring exercise together. That’s how we see the future of this software in this transactional sphere in particular. 

To listen to the full podcast episode, head over to Reinventing Professionals

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