Critical prerequisites of legal search technology for banking and finance lawyers

05 July 2015 | Benjamin Balk, SAI Global

Rapid access to information presented in an easy to understand format

While the advent of information brokers has seen the legal sector sourcing company, director and securities information from a single platform (rather than from a variety of authorities directly), practitioners and support staff still find themselves devoting a significant amount of time to conducting and compiling individual searches and analysing this data.

However, there are now software tools that enable practitioners to gain rapid access to Australian specific data and digest this information in a fraction of the time previously required. These tools are often particularly useful to banking and finance lawyers.

These tools allow for the quick search and assembly of information from Australian government registries, and the presentation of this information as easy to understand summary reports and visualisations, enabling users to quickly confirm details about a company, its identity, ownership, directors, registered interests and other securities data. Such snapshots and visualisations also explain the connections between people and companies, transforming the users' ability to see the bigger picture and allowing for quicker decision making.

Some of this more advanced information based technology has the added advantage of providing banking and finance lawyers access to interactive visual representations of the relationships between people and companies.

Questions you should be asking your vendor:

  • How will my research results be presented?
  • How much time will I actually save using this software?
  • How can I add my own professional interpretation to the information?
  • Will the software work with my company's web configurations and restrictions? Keep in mind that on the surface, the software may appear satisfactory but until you use it in your organisation, you don't have a clear idea of how it will truly perform.

Questions you should be asking your vendor about suitability of software for the legal industry:

  • Who else in my sector is using the software? Do you have testimonials from these customers and would they be prepared to talk to me?
  • How much experience does my vendor have with dealing with my industry?
  • Will I receive regular updates and improvements to my software?

A test drive or a demonstration of the software by your would-be vendor should resolve some of these issues.

This is an extract from Australian Banking & Finance Law Bulletin, July 2015, Volume 31 No 6

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