Sun Bin：General counsel, Xiaomi
What are the trends and challenges affecting the legal industry and shaping its future?
I see technology-wise 5G, Internet of Things, and Artificial Intelligence are really the major forces that are changing the society and it is going to change the industry as well as the legal industry too. Because it is really changing the scenarios of our everyday living and our everyday business doing with that. I think our regulations really need to develop and actually to catch up with the development of technology and the changing of society.
And it is exactly somehow we are a little bit behind, I would see, especially in data privacy and security protection, as well as the new regulations tackling the ever-changing ethic rules toward the new advanced technology evolving even human species self.
Another trend that I am seeing is because the hi-tech is becoming the driving force of the growth and the society, IP (intellectual property) assets are becoming more and more important assets for the enterprises.
We already see this trend in the last 30 years. We see IP assets are becoming a major component of companies’ assets. But we believe that is going to become even greater and heavier. Even bigger portions of the company’s assets would be an IP asset. So with that, we are going to see IP disputes and resolutions will become more and more important, because we will see more intensive IP litigations among the new-economy companies.
Another trend we see is the rise of nationalism all over the world. So the company needs to play mindful and tactful in this new environment so it actually generates more challenges for companies doing business worldwide.
How is technology change the legal profession?
I think it’s definitely on its way to change our profession. I think the influence of the technology over the legal industry has been, in general, underrated. Maybe because our profession is a self-selected group of people who are more conservative and relatively conservative and more risk-averting as a lawyer.
But I think it is changing. It is on its way to change our industry too, like many other industries.
I see in the short run like we already see it happening every day, things like legal database and electronic evidence retrieving apps as well as legal management tools. They are inseparable parts of our everyday legal work already.
In the long run, when we see almost all of the legal rules and policies are digitalized already and also one more case order has been published and become available online. With that, if the confidentiality issue can be resolved by the new technology for the attorneys to share the attorney work product, without worrying about the confidentiality issues to generate a bigger data pool, I believe that Artificial Intelligence is going to have enough supply of data to grow very quickly so eventually one day. Artificial Intelligence may be able to draft an analysis or a memo after reviewing thousands of document in one minute.
Could you tell us about Xiaomi’s in-house legal department and how you run a successful team?
Xiaomi’s legal team has a very clear vision, which is to become the best partner of our business teams. First of all, we emphasize on the importance of understanding the business, we believe that every good lawyer has solid legal skills, but what really differentiates an outstanding lawyer from others is how deeply he understands the business and the industry.
One of the important issues to build a very successful high-performance legal department is to only hire people who are curiosity-driven with a very open mind. Because the legal field and the industry are both rapidly changing, so only those people can enjoy the lifelong learning experience and tackle the challenges that we are facing every day.
Another point is to identify real leaders from the team, who really has the courage, resilience, and wisdom to challenge the status quo and push the organization towards a more optimized and advanced stage. With that, I think the head of the legal department also needs to build a working mechanism to facilitate sufficient communications between the specialized teams. Because it’s a very complicated job and we need a multiple-specialized team sometimes in even tackling one project. You can also have a real effective rotation program to provide continuous opportunity for the attorneys.
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