Cornwalls, one of Australia’s oldest and most respected independent law firms, is a dynamic and innovative multidisciplinary firm with offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, whose clients have entrusted them with the wellbeing of their businesses since 1891. Cornwalls also has a corporate advisory arm, Cornwalls Capital, with offices across Asia and is a member of ALFA International, a global law firm network with offices in 70 countries across the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Renowned in the Australian market for being commercially astute, agile in approach and a trusted advisor, Cornwalls represents a broad array of clients in nearly every major industry. Clients are an integral part of the firm and each client’s unique situation is addressed with custom solutions that are tailored to work for their businesses.
Talent, culture and innovation are critical pillars of Cornwalls’ business strategy, which supports the firm’s goal to achieve excellence in all that they do. Cornwalls’ motto of ‘Law + More’ guides their efforts to provide unique and dynamic solutions that deliver successful results for their clients’ businesses.
We spoke with Dean Katz, Partner and Head of the Corporate / Mergers & Acquisitions division at Cornwalls, to discuss the firm’s innovation and technology strategy, how contract review software will help drive innovation within the M&A team, how recent events have changed their approach to leveraging technology in the firm, and more.
M&A and General Commercial
Founded in 1891
Headquartered in Melbourne, Victoria
What is your role at Cornwalls?
I am a Partner in the Corporate & Commercial division at Cornwalls and I head up our dynamic Corporate / Mergers & Acquisition team based in the Melbourne office. Our team is high-performing, client-focused and results-driven, and I am highly invested in the development of our people and our processes. I am responsible for planning, collaborating and delivering on the firm’s key strategic pillars within our team – Talent & Culture, Clients & Marketing, Finance & Risk, Innovation & Technology and Operational Excellence. I guide and mentor a tremendous team of lawyers and support personnel who share the team’s vision and contribute enormously to the successful delivery of services to our clients.
How did you identify the need for contract review software?
We are driven to provide our clients the best possible outcomes for their transactions – whether acquisitions, divestments, capital raising or general commercial transactions. To achieve this, we continuously assess and fine-tune our delivery of legal services, and this includes considering and adopting appropriate technologies where there is a clear benefit to our team and in turn, to our clients. Due diligence is an exercise that lends itself to the application of technology to manage time-constrained transactions appropriately and cost-effectively. We don’t believe that technology will replace human lawyers but we do believe that when used correctly to its full potential, technology software can become an essential tool for the modern lawyer. This is what drove us to consider contract review / due diligence software. We worked closely with our technology consultant, Alpha Creates, to assess the market options and we are delighted to have chosen Kira as our preferred solution.
What have you been most impressed with so far?
Kira has delivered on the promise of technology that so often misses the mark in legal work, which is to reduce complexity and gain efficiency. We are impressed by its ease of use and how much our legal team enjoy working with the platform to improve their experience in conducting substantial due diligence exercises. By conducting our due diligence work with the assistance of Kira’s platform, we are continuing to ensure that we deliver on our clients’ high quality expectations, fast turnarounds and budgetary requirements in a manner that is commercially viable for the firm.
How will Kira support your company’s long-term goals?
Our firm’s vision is to use technology and innovation to achieve successful outcomes for our people and our clients. Our firm has recently turbo charged its Innovation & Technology strategy and we are excited that the adoption of Kira, which followed a rigorous assessment of the market (and is not a decision we took lightly), is a successful example of our ability to assess, select and implement cutting edge technology in order to deliver on our strategy – both for our Corporate / Mergers & Acquisitions team and more broadly across the firm. Kira has armed our lawyers with a powerful tool and we don’t intend on stopping there – we will continue to leverage the best technology in the market to achieve better outcomes for our people and our clients.
What surprised you the most during the onboarding process?
A real highlight of our experience with Kira was the onboarding process. It was refreshing to experience what is possible when a technology vendor invests as significantly as Kira has in ensuring that new customers are properly trained and empowered to use the platform. The attention to detail that Kira invested in our onboarding experience extended to pulling in technical and legal experts from across the company to answer our questions which, in turn, assured us that the same investments in expertise have been made throughout the company. We are grateful for the assistance and support that the onboarding and support team at Kira continue to provide to us as we roll out the solution within the Corporate / M&A team and the firm at large.
Can you speak on the law firm’s ‘Law + More’ motto and the meaning behind it?
Cornwalls is more than just a law firm. We are a multidisciplinary group that provides whole of business support, advice and commercial solutions for our clients. In building on our track record and heritage of success, we have fostered strong partnerships, relationships and networks within Australia and globally. We leverage our established corporate advisory arm, Cornwalls Capital, to offer expanded capabilities and services that provide more than just legal expertise to our clients. Our clients value that we can bring them opportunities, originate deals and offer them commercial solutions, in addition to providing sound legal advice. ‘Law + More’ signifies our use of dynamic, multi-faceted solutions, coupled with the adoption of technology and an innovative mindset, to deliver successful results for our clients and their businesses.
How is Cornwalls monitoring COVID-19 developments and sharing insights related to legal and business considerations to help clients?
Cornwalls has a dedicated response team focused on monitoring COVID-19 developments and how they may impact our clients, our people and the community. We host regular webinars, online networking events and also have a dedicated section on our website providing regular commentary on legal updates and how restrictions and/or government incentives may assist or impact our clients in these challenging times. Our Partners have been dedicated in maintaining regular contact with our clients to assist them to navigate the difficulties that COVID-19 has introduced to many of their businesses, and to assist in identifying and taking the opportunities.
How have the events of this year changed your approach to leveraging technology in the firm?
It has been an interesting time – we have had to act quickly to ensure that there were no interruptions to our service delivery. We surprised ourselves with our agility and the speed of adoption of certain technology solutions as we all moved to work from home, along with the rest of the word. We had adopted MS 365 about 18 months ago, which meant that our transition to remote working did not have nearly the impact that it otherwise could have. Our teams are far more receptive to considering, trialing and implementing other technology solutions which have the potential to benefit our people, our clients and our community. While we have become tech-enabled to work from anywhere, we are also looking forward to being able to physically gather with team members again and we are confident, through our Innovation and Technology strategy, that we will continue to leverage new technologies to drive our firm forward in the post-pandemic world.