Swinburne law students have created an innovative digital solution to help AGL’s legal team with their day-to-day work, as part of Swinburne Law School’s Legal Tech Clinic.
The AGL legal team for the telco business is a very small team who manage requests from all parts of the AGL telco business. The legal work encompasses providing legal advice, assisting with procurement and contracts review, providing legal approval for marketing campaigns and collateral, and advising on regulatory and compliance, just to name a few.
The team were in need of a streamlined process that could be synthesised with AGL’s existing platforms.
Swinburne Bachelor of Law students Nicola Jerkovic, Will Klein and Jacinta Meadows were given the opportunity to work closely with Ms Swee Yue Tan, an AGL Senior Corporate Lawyer and winner of the Australian Law Awards ‘In House Lawyer of the Year Award 2021’, to find a solution.
“We wanted to create a legal intake triaging tool that doesn’t require subscription to an external platform or new software but will fit within our company’s existing Office 365 environment.” Ms Tan said.
“It is extremely valuable for law students to gain legal tech skills in an increasingly innovative and AI-driven legal industry.”
AGL Senior Corporate Lawyer and winner of the Australian Law Awards – In House Lawyer of the Year Award 2021, Ms Swee Yue Tan.
After exploring an array of options, the students concluded that Microsoft Power Automate, combined with Microsoft Forms, would produce the best results. Essentially, the solution is an online form that auto-populates a spreadsheet, sends automated emails and generates assignees and required documentation through with the request. The triaging automates a series of previously time consuming, manual sorting processes.
Nicola said that the solution required a trial and error like process where the students researched and tested different software.
“As a team we came up with and tested different solutions. Everyone had different strengths and weaknesses, so it was nice to have different people apply their solutions to others’ concepts,” Nicola said.
The AGL legal team is looking into adapting the prototype to suit the new structure of the legal team while the company undergoes a proposed demerger and restructure.
The benefits of work integrated learning for all parties
Bachelor of Laws Course Director and Director of the Legal Tech Clinic, Mitchell Adams, who helped organise the placement, is passionate about students gaining professional experiences and engaging with the growing area of legal tech. He said that Swinburne Law School’s focus on technology and the future benefitted all parties tremendously.
“The lawyers really appreciate the mentoring role they can play, they get a lot of personal satisfaction from this role and sharing their knowledge with the next gen of legal professionals.
“The students gain a really high-touch experience and real workplace interactions with the AGL lawyers,” Mr Adams said.
The students involved agreed, finding a noticeable difference between their ability to communicate with stakeholders and supervisors to complete work at a professional standard.
“Beforehand, I was quite nervous and didn’t really know what to expect or how to interact with these professional people. Throughout the process and towards the end I felt a lot more comfortable in how to understand and interact with that environment,” said Will Klein, a law and engineering student.
Nicola, who’s studying a double degree in law and product design engineering, said that doing a placement online had also improved her soft skills.
“Previous work experiences I’ve done have been in person, whereas this one was mostly online. So, it required more initiative and self-direction,” she said.
Ms Tan said working with students, who came with their fresh energy and new perspectives, brought back good memories and even helped the legal team feel young again.
“I have enjoyed each interaction with them, and it always put a smile on my face, knowing that I have spent that time meaningfully and purposefully,” she said.
“The experience helped our organisation find legal operating efficiencies that will ultimately make our jobs easier. Giving that learning opportunity and exposure to law students has been immensely rewarding.”