Karim Adatia: 'Automation is a given today and it’s exciting to be a lawyer who can help commercialise innovation'

1 Jun 2022 , 4:32pm

Insight’s VP and deputy GC on how automation is revolutionising industry and how lawyers are managing risk and leveraging knowledge, reports Anne Gallagher

Arizona-based Karim Adatia oversees a legal team increasingly focused on providing digital technology solutions to clients around the world.

Give an example of how machine learning is changing the way businesses work.

One of our clients is a railway company with a vast network of tracks. Traditionally, keeping the tracks clear was a time consuming, manual and even dangerous inspection task. Our digital innovation team designed and built a drone-based imaging solution using IoT processing that captures real time images and uploads them to a cloud-based platform for analysis. The system’s technology, which is also edge enabled, can automatically and immediately determine the right mitigation needed, whether that’s calling the police or providing some other remedy. It’s machine learning that is immediate, predictive and solutions focused.

What role does Insight’s legal department play in this?

Everything from creating and negotiating client-facing and vendor contracts, to analysing issues associated with data collection such as data privacy, managing rights to the underlying intellectual property and evaluating risk-allocation issues. Equally important, as lawyers we have to invest in understanding how these technologies work and that means knowing what we don’t know, and working very closely with our engineers, software designers and other professions to facilitate the right business and legal outcomes. Automation is a given today and it’s exciting to be a lawyer who can help commercialise innovation.

What are some other use cases that get you excited?

Think in terms of creating safer places and smart tools and buildings for people, to name a few. For example, the world is currently focused on restoring normality to our lives and returning to the workplace post-pandemic is key, but people want assurances of their safety and wellbeing. Through our Insight Connected Platform™ contact tracing solution, Insight provides workers with wrist bands that log their movement throughout the workplace in an anonymised way using beacons and tag ID numbers. Say someone in the office tests positive for Covid-19. Through the data files that are logged, a company can quickly determine how many people the infected person came in contact with during the potential at-risk period. Not only that, a dashboard can show much greater specificity, such as sustained contact outside CDC and WHO recommended guidelines. To maintain data privacy, the identity of affected individuals is only revealed on a need to know basis and only when unsafe contact is established.

Is there a use for this technology in your own legal department?

Of course. In any given week, we see between 60 and 100 new contracts for review. With AI or machine learning tools, we can automate the contract review, negotiation and approval process. We can also automatically scan, tag, analyse and report on key language and provisions in contracts (regardless of format), creating real efficiency for us and value to the business by managing contract obligations. For example, we can identify all contracts expiring in the next six months or all those including rebate provisions. To do something like this manually is not only time and labour-intensive, frankly it’s very monotonous work.

When you went to law school, did you ever imagine you would become a quasi-technologist along the way?

Let’s just say there’s never a day that I wish I could sleep in. Technology is fascinating because it is ever-changing, disruptive and pushes the boundaries of physical laws and our legal frameworks. It’s given me and my team the opportunity to be lawyers and de facto members of the business side of our company. It’s created a level of collaboration among teams that make our work interesting and rewarding every day.

A University of Victoria graduate, Adatia’s previous roles have included as an associate at Osborn Maledon and as VP of operations and GC at Great Alaskan Holidays. He joined Insight as a senior attorney in 2010 and currently serves as vice president and general counsel. His team provides legal support for the company’s international commercial transactions, M&A activities, IP matters, marketing initiatives and business strategy.

Insight is a Fortune 500 tech company offering B2B and IT capabilities for enterprises, with a focus on supply chain optimisation, cloud and data centre transformation, connected workforce and digital innovation.