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Tech Tales - Women's Edition

Beth Patterson

Chief Legal & Technology Services Officer, Allens

Where were you born? Provide any interesting personal background you feel shapes your story.

I was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. I am the youngest of four children and spent my summers as a camp counselor from the age of 15. I learned a lot of life lessons then that helped prepare me for my professional life. Also, I loved to play basketball. Growing up, my parents thought I would be a sports writer or commentator because I knew all the statistics for the UNC Tarheels, my favorite team.

What did you do before your current career or role?

After completing a math degree at the University of North Carolina, I began my career as a programmer for IBM in Charlotte, North Carolina and then Austin, Texas. At that time in the mid 1980's, I had a friend living in Seattle who told me I should come work for a small start up company called Microsoft. Ironically, I thought it was too far from the east coast so didn't pursue it.

Instead, my adventurous spirit got the best of me and I was awarded a Rotary Scholarship to complete a Masters in Computer Science at the University of Sydney. I then landed a job as a Knowledge Engineer with the startup, Option Technology in Sydney Australia where we developed expert systems to manage risk for banks. After a couple of years, I was hired by a major commercial Australian Law Firm to manage a team of lawyers implementing expert systems across their practice and to manage the development of their enterprise legal research system.

I joined Allens almost twenty years ago and have seen the Legal Tech industry transform to what it is today.

I have always worked at the nexus of people and technology and love the creativity involved in solving complex problems.

In 1–3 sentences, describe your current job.

I am Chief Legal & Technology Services Officer at Allens, leading a multidisciplinary team of over 60 technologists, lawyers and project managers across Asia Pacific. I am responsible for Allen's alternative services offering a+ Arrow and Lawlab and am a member of the firm's Innovation Working Group, which is driving the innovation culture across the firm and for our clients. I was recently appointed to the honorary position of Professional Fellow in the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology Sydney. UTS Law is the first law school in Australia to develop an undergraduate law degree with a major in legal technology: Legal Futures and Technology.

How or why did you get started doing this?

I have always worked at the nexus of people and technology and love the creativity involved in solving complex problems to create market leading solutions for clients. When the startup company I was working for went bust, I landed a job in law and have never looked back. I really like leading people and working with the best legal minds and top technologists to deliver innovative services for our clients.

What’s your favorite thing about it? / Why do you feel this work matters?

I love the challenges and opportunities that my role brings every day, both from a people and technology perspective, no one day is ever the same. My favorite aspect of my role is working in a high performance culture with talented multidisciplinary teams - getting the best people with the right skills working together and seeing what their collective brilliance delivers using market leading technologies. It is a really exciting time to be in legal technology given the unprecedented pace and scale of change which is enabling new ways of working for the legal profession.

Describe a moment you are proudest of in your career.

There have been a few:

Winning ILTA's 2015 Litigation Support Professional of the Year Distinguished Peer Award and Allen's win of the ILTA 2017 Innovative Project of the Year for our REDDA app which streamlines lease review for property due diligence using two artificial intelligence technologies and a collaboration platform. The success was in large part due to a great multidisciplinary team of lawyers, technologists, project managers, knowledge professionals and software providers working together. I was privileged to be the Director responsible for the technology team and the project set a blueprint for how to innovate in this fast changing market.

Each year, we to obtain feedback from our legal teams about how the department is performing on live matters through our annual Lawyer Feedback Survey. I was really proud of my team one year when we received 100% excellent or very good responses to Overall Satisfaction. With 175 matters surveyed, this is no small feat for such a large team of over 60 professionals.

I led Allen's strategic response to outsourcing during the rise of the LPO market and established our very successful alternative workforce for document review, integrated with our technology team.