Mark Parr, Global Director of IT at HFW, is a seasoned executive with over 30 years of experience, providing strategy, governance, and thought leadership across technology environments. His broad knowledge and understanding of technology has enabled him to navigate the most complex issues and drive consensus to deliver tangible business results.
Prior to joining HFW, Mark worked across various fields and has accumulated an expansive range of skills and knowledge. In addition to working for commercial industry giants like HFW and KMPG, Mark has also worked for the British Government for many years in various roles across its many departments.
In this episode, Mark Parr talks;
Mark Parr is the Global Director of Information Technology at HFW and joins us to chat about many things including making sense of your data especially across a global operation and making data more relevant and useful for clients, we discuss disruptive change and how to manage the human impact of change and we finish by examining the future of the legal industry and what might be around the corner.
We open our conversation on how data can be stored and used beyond the business to help clients. Mark addresses the challenges that firms face regarding data management and how they can rely on mechanisms to make their data work for them. Mark shares that lawyers who better understand data can make better use of it for their business and clients.
“The journey we are going on is one to understand data we have, where it is, how we use it, manipulate it, store it, make it available. But also, how we can draw the insight from that, how we can learn from it, how we can find market trends. […] And how we can make that data useful for our clients.”
“One of the things we really trying to push is, as a firm, is this idea that we will work across sectors. So, you might be a lawyer in litigation in shipping, but actually, ‘is that information that you’ve got useful for our colleagues in aerospace or our colleagues in energy?’. So, sharing that information, having it available for everybody or sharing that data and having it available for everybody is really key.”
A key insight from this section is how important commination is in drawing insights for clients. It is so valuable to sit down and speak with them to truly find out what they need, what they want to do, and what they have done. Only then can you understand the journey that clients want to embark on and provide a roadmap with the proper solutions to help them reach their goals.
“If I think about how HFW operates, it’s really difficult to be innovative in any other way other than client data portals that’s sort of offering them insight into how much money they are spending with or how frequently they are using us.”
Mark shares the thoughts around technology that keep him up at night. In this segment of the podcast, he dives into security, especially cyber security and how it effects HFW and the industry as a whole, along with his optimism for the future of technology in the legal industry.
“Karl Knowles, our head of cyber is now involved with the NCSC, which is the UK Government National Cyber Security Centre that helps drive a lot of the policy around cyber security. He’s involved in the Legal 100, which is a representation from the legal sector. […] And they talked a lot about what’s happening at the moment in in Eastern Europe and how that’s going to impact (the industry).”
Mark addresses adoption and change management system that HFW have implemented and how they can help lawyers understand change and adapt to it. Mark believes there is an opportunity for disruptive change but stresses the importance of understanding how it can impact a company and being strategic when going about it.
“We are looking at re-rolling some people into change and adoption managers […] So, what you would have historically understood as IT trainers, we’re now starting to get them out and they’re change agents, they’re adoption agents. So, we are starting to get them to sit with people and help them understand what the change is about.”
“The disruption will be two or three steps ahead of us, but we might be able to take that and learn from it.”
Mark shares his personal views on the AI takeover rumour. He discusses the possibilities of this type of software and how it can ease the ability for lawyers to accomplish their jobs.
“I think there is opportunity – provided you’ve mapped the processes and you can see where the efficiencies can be made.”
“I think there’s a place for AI, there’s a place for machine learning. It’s not going to take up all of that, but I think anywhere where it’s able to provide efficiencies for the lawyers to do that deep thinking, that navel gazing, beard scratching thought is helpful.”
The pandemic allowed Mark and his organisation think about the new, flexible approach to work. He discusses how people can communicate and collaborate effectively in the post-pandemic world. The options are growing to provide employees with a more comfortable and collaborative space that technology will play a huge role in in order to keep everyone connected and focused on the task at hand.
“We don’t want people to be stuck in offices with doors closed. We want them to think about being able to work with each other far more collaboratively, being able to participate in conversations far more readily. So that’s allowing us the opportunity, it’s really exciting for the technology team.”
“Because of our global footprint, we’ve already started to think about (remote working and collaboration) before the pandemic. How do I ensure that the team in Australia supporting the work being delivered in Houston have the same access to the tools at the same time, are able to operate together, can mark a document up at the same time, whatever it may be, how do we meet that?”
“As a CIO, for me, it’s incumbent on me to provide them the right tools to support that, to make sure that they are able to be as effective regardless of where they are.”
Shaped for Law is a CTS-produced podcast series that takes you on a journey into the minds of legal tech leaders and innovators. Follow the link below for more episodes with CTS In-House Legal CIO, David Fazakerley, as he explores the state – and the future – of legal technology.