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The Future of Lawyers and Law Firms in Pakistan

A webinar on “The Future of Lawyers and Law firms in Pakistan – Legal Tech, Big Data & Online Courts” under the banner of ‘iwantseminars’ by the Entrepreneurship and Management Excellence Center (EMEC), Institute of Business Management (IoBM) was held on Saturday, August 22, 2020. It was co-powered by Continuing Legal Education Institute of Pakistan (CLEIP) and The Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP), USA.

The hosts of the webinar were Mr. Ahsan Jabbar, CEO, iwant.pk, who is also an IoBM alumnus. and Mr. Kamran Bilgrami, HoD, Corporate Training, EMEC, IoBM. The moderators of this webinar were Mr. Imran Khalil Naseer, former Chairman, Pak-UK Business Council, and Ms. Fariha Shah, IoBM alumnus, and former Regional Marketing Manager, PepsiCo MEA.

The opening dialogue was given by Mr. John Dickerson, Senior Attorney, Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP), USA. Panelists of this webinar were Barrister Nausheen Ahmed, General Counsel, Company Secretary & Head of Corporate, ICI, Pakistan; Mr. Shaharyar Nashat, Company Secretary, Director Legal & Public Relations, Hub Power; Mr. Amar Naseer, Partner, AUC I Law, Karachi & Lahore and Member, Continuing Legal Education Institute of Pakistan (CLEIP); Mr. Altaf Qureshi, Co-Founder, wukla.com & paksign.pk and Mr. Sohaib Saleem, Co-Founder, wukla.com & paksign.pk

During the opening dialogue, Mr. John Dickerson said that in the USA they are promoting the general acceptance of continuing legal education (CLE) as opposed to an X amount of years spent at a law school to become a certified lawyer. He said to enhance one’s learning about legal aspects, one must continue learning in this field. In the US it is the decision of the State Bar Association of each state to formulate their plans. Each state has a regulation for lawyers to work for an X amount of hours annually to have a valid license of law. He emphasized that many of the CLE’s in the USA focus on using technology in their routine work for research, documentation, and communication. He said a lawyer needs to continually evolve. Mr. Dickerson advised lawyers to not stick to what they have been doing but to evolve according to the needs of the changing times where technology has become the foundation for completing all tasks.

Barrister Nausheen Ahmed while mentioning the legal situation and its various aspects in Pakistan said that enforceability of contract is the main hurdle lawyers face. This is the same issue that the World Bank takes up every year.

During her talk, Barrister Nausheen Ahmed also explained the concept of mediation in the legal system. She said that if someone has a problem and they want recourse then they would need to spend time and money in the court cases. This essentially means that as a business if you are in a legal dispute then the resolution of the case can be delayed for three to five years. Barrister Ahmed also talked about a commercial mediation project launched in 2006 in collaboration with the World Bank in Pakistan that attracted her interest. Under this project, mediators were being trained. She was from the first batch of this project. They were doing a pilot project with the Sindh High Court. She said the idea was that those cases that were in litigation could be referred to mediation after seeking advice from the judge. She said that mediation does not take more than two days. The parties are in charge of the solution. She said that during litigation the lawyers are speaking on your behalf and the judge hands over the case. The same is the case in arbitration. In mediation, however, it is voluntary as the lawyers cannot begin mediation until both parties are not willing to do it. It is a confidential process as well. The lawyer cannot share the information with the other party or with the judge. Barrister Ahmed said that our cases are decided in an open court where many people get to know about the dispute people want to resolve and the information they share. In mediation, no one knows about the information one share other than the lawyer with whom the information is shared. She also said that in the US and Europe, mediation is a pre-requisite to going to court.

While discussing the impact of artificial intelligence on lawyers in Pakistan Mr. Amar Naseer said that one of the key areas is to handle the legal efforts and the outcomes. AI is going to offer new opportunities in the legal profession and lawyers need to keep themselves at par with the changing legal trends with respect to technology.

According to Mr. Shaharyar Nashat, law schools in Pakistan need to make changes in the curriculum according to the advice given by the stakeholders on how technology can be used in imparting education. Legal practices need to adapt to the changing landscape of legal practice in Pakistan. He was of the view that the change in curriculum and adoption of technology has been relatively slow in Pakistan. Legal technology and disruption in the US and Europe are changing rapidly. Mr. Nashat said that legal practice is ripe for disruption in Pakistan. The academic and the legal side must ensure our law students have the pertinent knowledge needed to be successful in this modern era. He said that in the future, the lawyers will spend less time reading books and more time reading and analyzing data.

Mr. Altaf Qureshi said that technology works best when you empower the user and not replace the user. He cited the example of WhatsApp in this regard. He said that WhatsApp empowered the users and it eventually replaced all messaging systems being used before. Mr. Qureshi said that those who are developing a system need to educate the users on how to use them. He mentioned that when new technologies were introduced in the legal system, it increased the number of lawyers and added productivity into the legal system.

Mr. Sohaib Saleem said that when stakeholders develop and implement technology they bring in the best and complicated stuff that becomes difficult for the people to adopt. Our population is not tech-savvy and the concerned stakeholders need to keep this in mind. He said that every application cannot be based on a smartphone. Easypaisa is a fine example of how small incremental changes can pave the way for major AI-based changes. He suggested making legal systems modern yet user-friendly to the extent that all legal practitioners can use them easily so they have no problem adopting a more advanced system.

Full Session Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSbxF8slDNw
News: https://news.iobm.edu.pk/the-future-of-lawyers-and-law-firms-in-pakistan/

Digitisation of Retail Supply Chain in Pakistan

Industry experts provide insights on the digitization of supply chain dynamics
Zoom Panel Discussion held on Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Department of Supply Chain at the Institute of Business Management (IoBM) organized an online panel discussion via Zoom on Saturday, July 25, 2020. The topic of this discussion was “Digitisation of Retail Supply Chain in Pakistan.” Dr. Mahmood Ali, HoD Supply Chain Management, IoBM was the host while Muzammil Ghafoor, Unilever E-Commerce Manager was the moderator.  The speakers of the discussion were Dr. Syed Irfan Hyder, Rector IoBM, and Dr. Mahmood Ali. The panelists included Noman Lutfi, Group GM Integrated Supply Chain, English Biscuit Manufacturers (EBM); Mugheer Atif, E-Commerce Operations Head, Daraz; Rizwan Tanveer Malik, HoD Supply Chain Aga Khan Health Services, Pakistan, and Kinza Shaik, GM Karachi, Cheetay.

While talking about how the digitization process has affected universities, Dr. Syed Irfan Hyder mentioned IoBM’s Learning Management System (LMS). He said that nearly 50 faculty members were already using LMS since Spring 2019 and were taking classes of nearly 100 sections. However, when the lockdown hit Pakistan, these 50 faculty members became the early adaptors of LMS and the new mode of teaching. Dr. Hyder said that the early adaptors played an instrumental role in enabling HoDs and other faculty members to become acquainted with the process of using LMS as an online teaching tool. He pointed out that the implementation of the LMS at IoBM predates the lockdown. He said that because of the lockdown, as IoBM had to be turned from a physical campus to an online campus, the three-year rollout period to implement LMS was completed in a matter of three months. He was pleased to share that 100% of faculty at IoBM has been teaching through LMS along with using Zoom and Google Class during the lockdown.

Rizwan Tanveer Malik said that the retail sector in the healthcare industry is facing a transformation. OPDs are now being replaced by telehealth products. Moreover, pharmaceutical industries are establishing channels in integration with healthcare set up to provide home delivery of medicines. Mr. Malik said that students need to understand supply chain terminologies and have to keep themselves updated once they enter professional life. The placement department of universities, he emphasized, will play a key role in facilitating students to avail internships at an organization’s supply chain department. He also mentioned that existing managers in the supply chain departments must exhibit temperament and patience especially in the industries that are not working 9-5 and are purely online and active round the clock.

While speaking about how digitization has added to the learning of companies, Kinza Shaik said that companies are opening dark stores and many have been set up across Karachi. She said that dark stores are mini warehouses created in high-selling areas. Instead of the rider going to the main warehouse of the city to collect the product, they identify the address where they need to make the delivery and acquire the product from the nearest warehouse to be delivered. This reduces the waiting time at the customer’s end. Noman Lutfi said that supply chain students need to know about the end-to-end supply chain and must acquire practical knowledge by completing internships. He also said that the teachers must also disseminate realistic and practical knowledge.  He said that managers in the supply chain industry need to be empowered and must make on-the-spot decisions.

Dr. Mahmood Ali shared that academicians and universities must continuously evolve their course and syllabus especially when they are teaching about the impact of digitization on the supply chain. He said that students must pursue a proactive approach and learn more about their course by searching over the Internet. According to Dr. Mahmood, professionals with industry experience must be lecturers in universities to make students learn about the dynamics and trends prevailing in the industry. Mugheer Atif said that in such distressing times akin to the Covid-19 and the lockdown, his company, Daraz, did not have any layoffs. The company continued with its operations as everyone kept working tirelessly, round-the-clock to complete all tasks. He said that while traditional FMCGs are stepping up and addressing the needs of the changing market, they need to continuously invest in expanding their digital base to attract retailers and customers.

The speakers and panelists during this session provided key insights into how the digitization of the supply chain is taking place in Pakistan. They shared stories about how their company’s supply chain dynamics were changed and enhanced because of Covid-19 and the lockdown. The speakers shared a common consensus that the retailers, suppliers, consumers, and the companies providing digital services have enriched their learning about how to better use the digital services for their advantage. This live session had a robust online engagement. Over 100 viewers watched the session on Zoom, 70 viewers watched it live on Facebook while the live video had an organic reach of over 11,000 on Facebook.

Digital innovation in Pakistan

A webinar discussing why Pakistan needs a tech disruption and a digital ecosystem
Jointly hosted by EMEC-IoBM and iwant.pk on Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed a clear digital divide. Companies that already invested in digital operating models have managed relatively well as compared to those who did not have such a strategy. In fact, for many businesses, the continuity of operations critically depends on their digital capabilities.

To discuss this scenario taking over the corporate world of Pakistan, a webinar was organized on the topic “Digital Innovation for Entrepreneurs & Businesses in Pakistan.” The Entrepreneurship and Management Excellence Center (EMEC), IoBM, and iwant.pk jointly hosted this session on Saturday, July 25, 2020. The moderators of this webinar were Mr. Imran Khalil Naseer, former Chairman, Pak-UK Business Council, and Ms. Fariha Shah, IoBM alumnus, and former Regional Marketing Manager, PepsiCo MEA.

The speakers included Mr. Asif Jafry, an IoBM alumnus who is the Founding CEO, E-Ocean, and Momentum; Mr. Javaid Iqbal, CEO, TransformX; Mr. Javaid Ahmed, Senior Fellow, Innovation and Strategy, IoBM, and Mr. Ahsan Jabbar, CEO, iwant.pk, who is also an IoBM alumnus.

Mr. Asif Jafri said that his company has been behind many digital endeavors, the recent one being the Covid-19 precautionary message that we listen to when making a phone call through our mobile phones. He said that digital innovation in the telecommunication sector enabled such a public service message to be disseminated across mobile phones in Pakistan. He shared an interesting insight that nearly 165 million cellular devices are operational in Pakistan. Out of this number, 65 to 70 million devices are smartphones. He said that startups have the advantage to turn these 65 to 70 million smartphone users as their customers. Moreover, according to Mr. Jafri, the 100 million subscribers who do not have a smartphone have the potential of switching over to becoming smartphone users to avail digital services and becoming a part of the digital ecosystem. He said that the government can play a part in enhancing Pakistan’s digital economy by giving a discount to those customers who are buying a smartphone for the first time.

Mr. Javaid Iqbal was of the view that technology disruption is happening in every industry. It is unprecedented to witness how companies related to transportation, home delivery, banks, education, and telecommunication have changed their business models because of technology. He said that all digital tech players are either providing the infrastructure and applications to promote tech-based companies or are educating the customers on how to use such applications. He said that the customers are also accepting and appreciating such enterprises. Mr. Iqbal said that we are observing two trends. The quest to know what digitization means and how to implement it. He said that while banks, healthcare providers, and telecommunication companies have stepped up to digitize their services, they are not exactly sure how to pursue it. This gap must be filled to streamline operations.

Mr. Javaid Ahmed appreciated the intent of holding this informative webinar. During his talk, he pondered on how digital disruptions help new startups and existing small businesses to create new business models. He said that digital disruption in an organization occurs when the business model and the target audience of the organization is changed. Digital disruption also facilitates an organization to become competitively aggressive and agile. Mr. Ahmed said that digital disruptions do create a new target audience and a new model of revenue and cost as a result of following a new approach towards completing business operations. He asked the participants and the viewers to reflect upon the difference between a company becoming competitively aggressive and agile vs. the company experiencing a disruption in its business model.

Mr. Ahsan Jabbar shared that technology disruption is not an isolated event or a one-time occurrence. It is an ongoing process that continues to evolve our lifestyle. While citing the example of MSN Messenger he said that Whatsapp has replaced it as a far superior communications application. Such is the case with all applications and processes that have been evolved over the last decade. Speaking about how tech disruptions changing our lives, Mr. Jabbar said that half of the population in the US carries an e-passport and in China, only 15% of the passports are in book form while the rest carry an e-passport. He asked viewers to imagine what disruption technology can create in other sectors by making all processes to be completed online. Mr. Jabbar said that Pakistan must produce innovation through tech disruption and digital technologies. Such innovation will produce Unicorn as a byproduct. Unicorn is a privately held startup having a value of US 1 billion. He showed concerns over why banks do not provide loans to tech startups. He stressed the need for Pakistan to build its digital ecosystem and envisioned Pakistan’s digital ecosystem to create ten Unicorns in the next decade.

Through this webinar experienced professionals and entrepreneurs imparted upon the viewers’ new dimensions of how digital disruption has been changing business models in Pakistan. EMEC, IoBM and iwant.pk will continue to jointly host such insightful webinars on various topics.