UniCourt Influencer Q&A with Priti Saraswat of BakerHostetler
Priti Saraswat has been on the frontlines of bringing forward innovation, knowledge management, and legal technology into law firms and improving client service delivery through alternative legal services providers (ALSPs).
Priti brings a wide range of deep experience in the legal technology and knowledge management space, including working at Litera as an Account Executive, Account Specialist, and Solutions Engineer, at Levenfeld Pearlstein as a Knowledge Management Consultant, running her own KM Consultancy assisting law firms on new technology, strategies, and “how to innovate from within,” and working at BakerHostetler LLP as Legal Process Engineer, Lead Legal Process Engineer, and now the Legal Tech Consulting Manager of BakerHostetler’s ALSP, IncuBaker. In addition to her experience across the legal industry, Priti is also a Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States (CIPPUS) with the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) and is a member of the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, focused on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion within ILTA and the wider legal community.
We enjoyed speaking with Priti about her career path in the legal industry, the role ALSPs play in enhancing service delivery to clients, data privacy trends impacting corporate legal departments, and much more. We hope you enjoy learning from Priti’s perspective as well!
UniCourt: Tell us your story. What is your background, and what led you to what you are doing now?
Priti Saraswat: I have been fortuitous to have had a few different phases (and multiple places to call home) in my career, but if I focus on the one that has led me to my current role, I’d say a happy accident.
When I moved to the United States about seven years ago, I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I knew I wanted to stay in Legal, but had to navigate a new system and establish myself anew. I fell into Sales at a legal technology company and moved into the Solutions Engineering team after a year or so. I did not know it at the time, but these roles would be great assets for my current role.
Eventually, I left the legal technology company and decided to branch out on my own as an independent consultant. I really enjoyed this phase in my career, I learned a lot about myself and my capabilities. It also taught me the most about people and service delivery, which now looking back, enhanced my toolkit even further.
When I stumbled across a role at BakerHostetler during a casual announcement made at a virtual conference, I had no intention to leave my consulting role. I loved what I was doing, but the role being proposed sounded so intriguing “Legal Process Engineer” (some described it as “the unicorn” during the announcement). I figured I would try my luck and if it was meant for me, I’d get the golden ticket. It was meant to be and the rest is history as they say. That was two and a half years ago, and in that time I have been fortunate to evolve into my current role as Legal Tech Consulting Manager, now leading a team of Legal Process Engineers.
UC: What is IncuBaker and how does it help lawyers and clients understand and navigate the intersection of digital business, emerging technologies, and the law? Tell us about your role at IncuBaker as the Legal Tech Consulting Manager.
PS: IncuBaker was founded in 2015 by our previous CIO, Bob Craig, and our current CIO, Katherine Lowry. IncuBaker originated as an R&D team to encourage better utilization of technology across the firm. In 2018, IncuBaker began offering its first client delivery services for Legal Operations. This service offering evolved into Privacy Management and Incident Response services. In 2023, IncuBaker branched out into two key areas: Innovation and Legal Tech Consulting.
IncuBaker helps attorneys and corporate legal departments to navigate the intersection between business, law, and technology. IncuBaker helps organizations to operationalize their compliance and automation needs. IncuBaker currently provides services within Privacy Management, Incident Response, and Legal Operations.
My role is primarily focused on our Legal Tech Consulting services. I lead a team of Legal Process Engineers who help our clients to design, improve, and manage processes to increase efficiency and streamline business initiatives.
UC: Why do you think alternative legal services providers (ALSPs) are critical to improving service delivery to clients? What are some of the core differentiating factors for the different types of ALSPs in the legal industry?
PS: Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs) have become indispensable in enhancing service delivery to clients primarily due to their ability to offer specialized expertise, cost-efficiency, and innovative solutions. These entities specialize in harnessing technology and streamlined business models to address comprehensive legal and administrative tasks, thereby allowing law firms and their clients to focus on core legal issues while ensuring meticulous, efficient handling of voluminous or systematic tasks like document review, due diligence, and compliance checks.
The core differentiators among various ALSPs often lie in their areas of specialization, technological prowess, pricing structures, and talent models. For instance, some ALSPs focus on leveraging advanced technology and data analytics for litigation support, while others may provide contract management solutions driven by artificial intelligence. Their innovative approaches not only drive efficiency, but also introduce fresh perspectives and solutions, enriching the legal profession’s service delivery spectrum.
UC: You recently participated in an insightful panel discussion at ILTACON on “Data Mapping in 2023 and Beyond: What Is It and Why Is It Important?” What are some of the key takeaways you can share from the panel discussion?
PS: The ILTACON panel on “Data Mapping for 2023 and Beyond” was an enlightening experience, emphasizing the critical role of comprehensive data mapping in addressing privacy requests, navigating evolving regulations, and the strategic management of various types of data within organizations.
One primary takeaway was the necessity of understanding not just “what” data you possess but also the specifics of its storage, access, and the rationale for its retention. In today’s landscape, where data compliance is a significant concern, many organizations still lack a comprehensive grip on their data’s whereabouts. Initiating with an interview-based approach helps understand the data lifecycle, thereby identifying potential risks, including security vulnerabilities and compliance issues.
Another crucial insight was the concept of viewing technology as an enabler rather than a solution in itself. While technology can significantly aid in data mapping, the challenges such as budget constraints, resource limitations, and obtaining leadership buy-in highlight the need for a more nuanced approach. This includes addressing data mapping in manageable increments (“bite-size chunks”) rather than attempting to “boil the ocean” all at once.
Lastly, the continuous nature of data mapping was stressed. It isn’t a “one and done” task but an ongoing process that requires regular revisiting and updating. Organizations need to “grow a muscle” in this area, learning iteratively from each round of data mapping to enhance their processes continuously.
UC: From your work as part of IncuBaker’s legal technology consulting and R&D team, what trends are you seeing that are impacting how corporate legal departments and privacy teams support and manage their privacy management initiatives?
PS: Several emerging trends are shaping the strategies of corporate legal departments and privacy teams. Firstly, there’s a growing emphasis on proactive compliance due to the increasing complexity and stringency of global data protection regulations. Teams are investing more in technology to automate and standardize compliance processes, such as tools for data assessment and privacy impact assessments.
Secondly, the remote work trend is prompting a more cloud-centric approach, necessitating new strategies for data security as traditional perimeter-based security models become less relevant. This shift requires privacy teams to work closely with IT departments to manage potential data breaches and maintain data integrity across decentralized networks.
Another notable trend is the growing role of artificial intelligence in managing large data volumes and automating routine tasks, allowing legal departments to focus more on strategic work. However, this also brings challenges related to bias and transparency in AI decision-making, necessitating a balance between innovation and ethical considerations.
Finally, there’s an increasing awareness of the value of privacy as a component of corporate social responsibility. Companies are recognizing that robust privacy practices are not just a legal requirement but a way to build trust with customers and enhance brand reputation.
UC: What are some of your favorite sayings? What are some real-world examples of how you’ve seen those sayings come to life?
PS: One of my favorite sayings is, “The only constant is change.” In the legal profession, this couldn’t be more accurate, especially with the rapid technological advancements we’re witnessing. For instance, the way ALSPs have revolutionized service delivery exemplifies this change, continually evolving to meet the dynamic needs of clients.
Another saying I often refer to is, “Knowledge is power.” In our panel discussion at ILTACON, it was evident that understanding the intricacies of data mapping is crucial for organizations. The more you know about your data—where it’s stored, how it’s accessed, and why it’s there—the better equipped you are to protect and leverage it effectively.
“Prevention is better than cure,” resonates significantly within data privacy initiatives. It’s always more effective to proactively address potential data breaches and compliance issues than to deal with the fallout. This principle was vividly illustrated during our discussions about the importance of comprehensive data mapping and regular audits to pre-emptively identify and address vulnerabilities.
Lastly, “love what you do; do what you love,” which are eight words to live by. There are examples of this all around us. Those most successful truly enjoy what they do and it makes the trials and tribulations that we all face on the daily, all the more worthwhile.
UC: What are your goals for the rest of 2023? What projects are you working on? Are there any events in the data innovation, privacy, or legal tech space we should know about?
PS: My projects are focused on helping support our clients with their operational and technical needs. We are currently working on enhancing our services related to Pixel Tracking and SDKs. Many organizations are facing challenges in these areas and working towards better hygiene, similar to data mapping. We review and provide reports as part of our services to support companies in making better compliance choices. My goal is to continue building great services that help enhance companies in their compliance efforts. I am shamelessly a Privacy, AI, and Data Nerd, so really enjoy it.
With the advancement of Privacy and AI, there are so many events offering great insights and sharing the latest trends in the industry. I personally really enjoy the events offered by IAPP (International Association for Privacy Professionals). I recently attended the IAPP Privacy. Risk. Security. Conference in San Diego, which had great sessions and panel discussions. I was also fortunate to be a speaker at this year’s event. In addition, I took part in their inaugural AI Governance Professional Training as part of the first cohort of trainees, which I thoroughly enjoyed. In November, IAPP has their inaugural AI Governance Conference in Boston, which should be insightful too.
ILTA (International Legal Technology Association) also has great webinars, and their annual conference, ILTACON, which has a variety of topics related to legal technology, AI, and Privacy. Finally, I recommend researching events in your area or keeping an eye out for local communities as part of a larger organization, for example, IAPP has KnowledgeNets (which I attend regularly) where you can meet and attend events with professionals in your local area, but other associations offer similar events. It is a great way to network and meet new people.
UC: Where can we learn more about you and your work?
Enhancing Client Service Delivery through Legal Process Engineering
As Priti highlighted, ALSPs have become indispensable vehicles for improving client service delivery, and many leading law firms like BakerHostetler have developed ALSPs to enable innovation for their clients. Through leveraging legal process engineering IncuBaker is developing future-ready legal services targeting key areas for clients connected to privacy management, incident response, and legal operations.
We loved hearing Priti’s insights, and are excited for what she’ll do next in the legal tech space!