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ALTA Board Profile | Treasurer – Michael Pattison, Founder, Contract Probe


How did you end up in your current job, and what drives you?


I had worked as a lawyer for many years and had become increasingly frustrated at the lack of tools available to help lawyers spot problems with contracts they were drafting or reviewing.  From my computer science studies, I knew programmers had all sorts of tools available to them to help them write better programs. I thought, why isn’t there something like that for lawyers? I left private practice to take up the challenge of developing such a solution. 


Describe a typical day in your life as a legal tech founder


Checking in with the ContractProbe team to see all are well and understand our priorities for the day.  Of course, we almost always get distracted by more urgent things in the course of the day, but at least we can start off thinking we know what we are doing! Then dealing with any customer or supplier issues that have arisen.  

After that it is really a matter of what is most pressing for that day – mixture of helping with marketing, sales, product development and operations.  Never a dull moment! I always do regular exercise (bike riding) as I’ve found over the years that it is key for survival in a busy life.  

I am also a lecturer at the Melbourne Law School in the subject Start-Up Law.  I designed that course with the aim of producing a cohort of lawyers that understand the legal issues that face start-ups in their early years and know how to provide relevant advice to start-up clients.  It is great to see the interest that law students have in new ways of working. 

So different to when I studied law. 


You are about to go back in time to give your younger self a single piece of advice. What do you say to younger Michael? And when?


When younger Michael has just left University, I would tell him to travel widely and regularly and to work overseas as early in your career as he could.  Such a great way to continue being exposed to new influences and ideas and keep your mind fresh.  


It’s 30 October 2030. What will lawyers and legal tech founders say when they look back at the legal industry today? What moments and trends will they still be talking about?


They’ll see that so much of what passed as advanced legaltech now was really just automating existing processes.  In the 10 years from now, entirely new ways of operating will have developed and the legal industry will be starting to experience genuine innovation. 

In 10 years time, the hype around machine learning and AI will have subsided and people will be seeing those technologies as just tools to be used to solve real problems. 

The billable hour will be absolutely dead!  Lawyers will be billing only on how much value they bring to a problem, which is as it should be. 


In 3 sentences: what is ALTA, who was ALTA created for, and why should they care?


 ALTA was created to help Australians who are developing legal technology to succeed.  I was proud to be at the first meeting of our members and was blown away by the energy, enthusiasm and creativity in the room. I see ALTA as a way to help Australians who are developing new legal technology take over the world! 


What is your role on the ALTA board and what are your plans for the rest of your term?


I am the Treasurer and Vice-President on the Board.  As Treasurer, my primary role is to ensure ALTA has the money available to provide the services our members need.  As Vice-President I am there to support other Board Members (particularly our hard working President, Jodie Baker) with their various responsibilities on the Board.  

My main aim for the remainder of the current term (until November 2020) is to help ALTA decide whether we will be embarking on ALTACON in 2021 and, if so, in what form. 


Where can we stay up to date with what you’re doing?


ALTACON, of course!  Let’s hope we can mingle in person next year!  After that, the Legal Geek conference in London is great fun and a good place to meet people at the cutting edge of legal tech.  Again, hoping that we can attend it physically next year.  

In between conferences, I post regularly on LinkedIn and on the www.contractprobe.com website and am always open to making new connections.