Welcome to the third part of our Q&A mini-series with some of the experts we interviewed in our recent Future of Legal Services Report...
BOB ROWE, CEO, & JEFFREY CATANZARO, SVP, INTEGREON
Can you tell us a little bit about Integreon and how you are working with law firms and in-house teams?
BR: “Anywhere law firms and corporate legal need support for high-volume activities that require scale and a process-driven approach, and that are critical to their strategy and their mission, that’s where we’re playing. So for example, we do contract lifecycle management, litigation and cyber-related activities, compliance, and we also do what some people call middle and back office functions—legal word processing, presentation graphics, and administrative support. It’s a broad spectrum of activities that require a scalable process and skills best offered by an ALSP as opposed to a law firm, which generally offers a more advisory model. Law firms have always offered to do this process-driven, high-volume work, but typically it has not been done very efficiently. That’s where Integreon has been able to step in to solve inefficiencies in this market. Most of the issues we deal with are business problems that require a business process—and lawyers don’t get that kind of training in law school. We have a team that we call the Business Excellence Support Team which includes some lawyers, but it’s mostly comprised of Six Sigma experts, data scientists, statisticians, and people who have deep expertise with business process design and implementation. Bringing in a fresh set of eyes, perspectives and experience really helps when you are trying to implement change. That’s the key difference between Integreon and a traditional law firm—the way we identify a problem and solve it.”
What are the typical hurdles you face that hinder implementing process change?
BR: “Our biggest challenge is what I would call the status quo and associated change management issues to move away from the status quo. Most of our clients are in the Fortune 500, and a good chunk of them are in the Fortune 100, so we’re talking about major change that impacts hundreds if not thousands of people in the way they do a particular activity. So you can sit in a room and tell people this is a better way to do it, and on the whiteboard they would agree, but when they start thinking about how it might affect them in 20 different offices spread across five countries, and the work that would entail to make that change, that’s where the real challenge comes in. You have to make them comfortable that it’s worth the chase and that it can be done in a way that’s not disruptive to the company.”
JC: “We are seeing with many clients, especially on matters related to technology, that they want a quantifiable ROI when implementing technology platforms. This requires significant focus on change management and has resulted in a rise in what many in the industry are calling ‘legal designers’, who help lead and navigate the design of the system—embedding the change management ultimately leading to higher adoption rates of technology.”
Is most change management about introducing new tech?
BR: “Change management goes well beyond technology. Wherever possible, we try to bring in technology because it typically lends itself towards greater efficiency, but sometimes the process requires more thinking or analysis than technology is capable of doing or doesn’t do well. At the end of the day, you’re assessing and changing workflows and the processes, so it’s not just about change management around technology alone.”
How is the legal tech market developing?
JC: “Unlike other industries, there isn’t one platform that is the ‘go-to’ for a legal department or a law firm like it is with other industries. Though we are starting to see investment that could potentially lead to consolidation of solutions in the market. For example, DocuSign was an electronic signature tool and that was their only value proposition. However, in the past two years, DocuSign made a significant investment into Seal Software, a contract analytics tool, and acquired SpringCM, a contract management lifecycle tool, so they’re trying to be at the forefront of how do they become the ‘go-to’ platform for legal. Kira, another contract analytics tool, raised $50 million last year, and Onit, an enterprise legal management solution, has raised close to $200 million. Over the past 18-24 months there has been significant investment in the legal technology space.”
How are law firms and in-house teams embracing new tech?
BR: “If you’re a corporate law department or a law firm, you have any number of options with respect to technology, but you also have to deal with the fact that most technology right out of the box is not something that readily drops into most workflows. What we’re finding is there’s a growing need for someone to work with law firms and law departments to determine what the problem is that they are trying to solve, and based on that, advise on the two or three best-fit technology options, and how to customise or implement them. So that’s where a company like Integreon comes in and can work with the law department or firm to do that. That’s something that attorneys are not typically suited to do themselves.”
Is adopting legal tech all about saving money?
BR: “Not any more. Let’s take the e-discovery market, for example. Initially, that was all about saving money. Law firms with their billable hours, having associates review millions of documents on large matters—something that most associates don’t find very appetising anyway—was very costly. So e-discovery tools changed all that, in addition to introducing more predictable pricing models other than the billable hour. But what we’re seeing now is it’s not enough to go in and say we can save you 20% or 30% off this process—that’s table stakes—we need to come in with our expertise to help them evolve best practices. There’s an increasing recognition that legal activities in corporate law departments are not much different than any other cost centre in the company, and GCs have to prove they’re handling their activities efficiently. They no longer get to make decisions unilaterally as lawyers. Procurement is now involved, legal operations folks are involved, so there’s a lot more discipline when corporates approach the market with respect to hiring a company or set of companies to solve for a problem. It’s that mindset that will continue to drive the growth of the alternative legal services market. As for law firms, we’re seeing change but it’s not quite as rapid. The billable hour model is still here, although we are starting to see more alternative fee arrangements. But there’s also a different mindset. Richard Susskind said it’s hard to walk into a room with a group of millionaires and tell them that they’ve got a faulty or a poor business model. They say this has worked well for decades, why do we need to change? So there’s a greater reluctance.”
JC: “On top of that there’s an internal risk. When you buy technology, the costs are quite high and lawyers in general are risk averse, so there’s a reluctance to make a decision or for one individual or a group to put their name to that kind of spend or endorsing a platform. Sometimes there is an inability to be decisive around technology because of that fear of failure. That’s where Integreon comes into the equation quite a bit to help clients solve the problem and then help them make educated decisions around technology that will ensure a higher ROI. Tech is also a morale issue. Often lawyers are overworked in legal departments and trying to do more with less, so the efficiency gains can also help to improve morale. Bottom line, if you have a highly repetitive low-risk task, it’s not a good use of an attorney’s time.”
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