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Suggestions for evaluating Legito implementers

Suggestions for evaluating Legito implementers

Jun 22 · 2 min read

Last time, we ventured our opinion on the traits needed to be a good Legito implementer. How do you evaluate those traits? We asked our consulting team how they find new colleagues to be part of our implementation team. The suggestions look like tests – but don’t present them as such. Run a workshop. Make feel like an experiment rather than a pass/fail opportunity.

 

#1 Ask us to help you

 If you are embark on a Legito implementation, we want you to succeed and enjoy the experience. If you would like our help or want to see what we use to evaluate candidates, just ask. No charge.

 

#2 Time limited automation task

Stipulate a task that involves simple document automation (building a template) combined with a simple workflow. Ask the candidate to attempt the task within a time-limited period. Ideally, tell the candidate to ask questions if they get stuck (we can make someone available if you don’t have someone with Legito skills).

Expect to learn:

  • How comfortable is the person attempting to learn a new solution?
  • How easy/difficult is it to grasp the basics?
  • How readily will the candidate ask for help when it’s available?

#3 Diagnose a deficient solution

Create a template with some flaws and a workflow that isn’t working correctly (ask us for help if you don’t have anything – but it’s better to use something from your business if you can). For example, create a template with formatting glitches and a workflow that does not perform as expected. Ask the candidate to look at the solution, identify defects, and suggest how to fix the problem.

 

#4 Create project success criteria

Ask the candidates to suggest a short set of success criteria for the proposed project. This is a business analysis task, not a technical task. You want to see criteria aligned to business objectives, that show an understanding of flaws in the prevailing process, and an intuitive understanding of what success looks like.

 

#5 Design your MVP

MVP = minimum viable project. An MVP is the simplest implementation that does something useful for the business. You want to see an initial project which is as small as possible. An MVP delivers a quick win, creates confidence, and is just enough to win support for a more expanded project. The candidate should identify a business process (just one) with a simple document without being simplistic.

#6 Create a project plan outline

This task requires thinking about the steps required and how they will be scheduled alongside business-as-usual activities. Expect to see steps involving representatives from stakeholders, not just technical Legito steps. You want a pace that is sufficient to build momentum without imposing unrealistic burdens on teams.

Suggestions for evaluating Legito implementers

Jun 22 · 2 min read

Last time, we ventured our opinion on the traits needed to be a good Legito implementer. How do you evaluate those traits? We asked our consulting team how they find new colleagues to be part of our implementation team. The suggestions look like tests – but don’t present them as such. Run a workshop. Make feel like an experiment rather than a pass/fail opportunity.

 

#1 Ask us to help you

 If you are embark on a Legito implementation, we want you to succeed and enjoy the experience. If you would like our help or want to see what we use to evaluate candidates, just ask. No charge.

 

#2 Time limited automation task

Stipulate a task that involves simple document automation (building a template) combined with a simple workflow. Ask the candidate to attempt the task within a time-limited period. Ideally, tell the candidate to ask questions if they get stuck (we can make someone available if you don’t have someone with Legito skills).

Expect to learn:

  • How comfortable is the person attempting to learn a new solution?
  • How easy/difficult is it to grasp the basics?
  • How readily will the candidate ask for help when it’s available?

#3 Diagnose a deficient solution

Create a template with some flaws and a workflow that isn’t working correctly (ask us for help if you don’t have anything – but it’s better to use something from your business if you can). For example, create a template with formatting glitches and a workflow that does not perform as expected. Ask the candidate to look at the solution, identify defects, and suggest how to fix the problem.

 

#4 Create project success criteria

Ask the candidates to suggest a short set of success criteria for the proposed project. This is a business analysis task, not a technical task. You want to see criteria aligned to business objectives, that show an understanding of flaws in the prevailing process, and an intuitive understanding of what success looks like.

 

#5 Design your MVP

MVP = minimum viable project. An MVP is the simplest implementation that does something useful for the business. You want to see an initial project which is as small as possible. An MVP delivers a quick win, creates confidence, and is just enough to win support for a more expanded project. The candidate should identify a business process (just one) with a simple document without being simplistic.

#6 Create a project plan outline

This task requires thinking about the steps required and how they will be scheduled alongside business-as-usual activities. Expect to see steps involving representatives from stakeholders, not just technical Legito steps. You want a pace that is sufficient to build momentum without imposing unrealistic burdens on teams.

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Charging clients for automated solutions

Charging clients for automated solutions

Charging clients for automated solutions

In 2008, I started a law firm in the UK with the principal objective of leveraging my experience of document automation for clients in B2B software and IT services organisations. I ran that firm for 10 years. I came from a corporate legal team so I did not start with a following of existing clients. What did I learn about charging for automated contracts?

1. The business model is sustainable and profitable.

Fee income from contract automation was at least as good as fee income from traditional legal work. More importantly, for a solo lawyer, I won loyal clients with repeat work. I didn’t have to spend too much time finding new clients.

2. It’s still legal services

I confused some potential clients with my early pitch. I remember one organisation asking if I was from a software company or a law firm. I put so much focus on the technology, I neglected to be clear that the core business was still legal services. None of my clients bought a tech solution, but almost all of them got a tech solution.

3. Use tech to customise, not standardise, legal work.

My core work is drafting technology contracts. Most of my clients were in-house lawyers in large companies. They could access precedent agreements from other (larger) law firms or subscription services. It’s inherently tricky (and unwise) to deploy standard contracts in complex commercial transactions. My clients needed tailored contracts for each project, but they had neither the time nor the budget to pay for a lawyer to draft them. My business expanded when I equipped clients to generate tailored contracts without manual drafting.

4. Use subscription-based fees.

My typical fee model was a fixed fee for supplying an automated contract template plus a regular subscription for maintaining and supporting the template. The initial fixed fee was not a loss-leader. I typically charged 25% more for an automated template than a static Word document. Often, it would not have been possible to use a static Word document, but the point I’m making is that I could charge more for the value of an automated template. If an initial fixed fee plus a follow-on subscription sounds like a familiar model, remember my clients were in the software business. They understood the concept of maintenance and support.

5. Charge for legal work, not technology.

When clients needed software to run my contract templates, I did not profit from supplying the software. I passed on any software cost without markup. Usually, I encouraged the clients to buy the software directly from the vendor. It’s important to know what business you are in.

6. It’s not for everyone.

I used tech to create tailored contracts at the complex end of the spectrum for knowledgeable clients who were frequent consumers of legal services. I did not have to explain my legal content, or guide clients in unusual one-off situations. I did not try to automate legal advice more effectively delivered by a human with intuition and sensitivity. Lawyers have a duty to act in a client’s best interests. We must recognise when LegalTech is not sufficient. A successful business model (and a good professional indemnity insurance track record) depends on matching the solution to the client. Turn away work that doesn’t fit – there’s enough work out there.

7. A fee-per-use model never seemed to work.

I don’t think there’s a conceptual bar to charging a fee-per-use model for automated documents, but I never found a good use case for it. It would have been more complicated to calculate, and I think it would have felt like a tax on transactions. I didn’t want anything to discourage optimal use of the templates. Nobody asked me for that kind of model. A fee-per-use was also contrary to the market norms in the software industry I served. It would have seemed counter-intuitive in their supply chain.

 

Written by Charles Drayson

In 2008, I started a law firm in the UK with the principal objective of leveraging my experience of document automation for clients in B2B software and IT services organisations. I ran that firm for 10 years. I came from a corporate legal team so I did not start with a following of existing clients. What did I learn about charging for automated contracts?

1. The business model is sustainable and profitable.

Fee income from contract automation was at least as good as fee income from traditional legal work. More importantly, for a solo lawyer, I won loyal clients with repeat work. I didn’t have to spend too much time finding new clients.

2. It’s still legal services

I confused some potential clients with my early pitch. I remember one organisation asking if I was from a software company or a law firm. I put so much focus on the technology, I neglected to be clear that the core business was still legal services. None of my clients bought a tech solution, but almost all of them got a tech solution.

3. Use tech to customise, not standardise, legal work.

My core work is drafting technology contracts. Most of my clients were in-house lawyers in large companies. They could access precedent agreements from other (larger) law firms or subscription services. It’s inherently tricky (and unwise) to deploy standard contracts in complex commercial transactions. My clients needed tailored contracts for each project, but they had neither the time nor the budget to pay for a lawyer to draft them. My business expanded when I equipped clients to generate tailored contracts without manual drafting.

4. Use subscription-based fees.

My typical fee model was a fixed fee for supplying an automated contract template plus a regular subscription for maintaining and supporting the template. The initial fixed fee was not a loss-leader. I typically charged 25% more for an automated template than a static Word document. Often, it would not have been possible to use a static Word document, but the point I’m making is that I could charge more for the value of an automated template. If an initial fixed fee plus a follow-on subscription sounds like a familiar model, remember my clients were in the software business. They understood the concept of maintenance and support.

5. Charge for legal work, not technology.

When clients needed software to run my contract templates, I did not profit from supplying the software. I passed on any software cost without markup. Usually, I encouraged the clients to buy the software directly from the vendor. It’s important to know what business you are in.

6. It’s not for everyone.

I used tech to create tailored contracts at the complex end of the spectrum for knowledgeable clients who were frequent consumers of legal services. I did not have to explain my legal content, or guide clients in unusual one-off situations. I did not try to automate legal advice more effectively delivered by a human with intuition and sensitivity. Lawyers have a duty to act in a client’s best interests. We must recognise when LegalTech is not sufficient. A successful business model (and a good professional indemnity insurance track record) depends on matching the solution to the client. Turn away work that doesn’t fit – there’s enough work out there.

7. A fee-per-use model never seemed to work.

I don’t think there’s a conceptual bar to charging a fee-per-use model for automated documents, but I never found a good use case for it. It would have been more complicated to calculate, and I think it would have felt like a tax on transactions. I didn’t want anything to discourage optimal use of the templates. Nobody asked me for that kind of model. A fee-per-use was also contrary to the market norms in the software industry I served. It would have seemed counter-intuitive in their supply chain.

 

Written by Charles Drayson

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Alternative fee arrangements – Making them work outside litigation

Alternative fee arrangements

Making them work outside litigation

Alternative fee arrangements

Making them work outside litigation

This is for the lawyers, those in law firms, and those working in corporate legal teams. I don’t need to provide an introduction to alternative fee arrangements – you either feel the pressure already, or you work in a space where fee arrangements are settled. It’s sufficient to say that I’m writing about any fee not based on hourly rates.

Can we say that we don’t want fee arrangements to drive a race to the bottom? As Seth Godin observes, the problem with a race to the bottom is that you might win. If you’re stuck in a race to the bottom, please don’t buy a tool like Legito unless you also plan to change direction. Don’t automate broken business practises – the only thing that scales is the poor quality outcomes.

The oft-used phrase from lawyers, especially lawyers in corporate legal teams who cannot control workloads by submitting large invoices, is: “do more with less”. Doing “more” is obviously about getting more work done. Less obviously, “with less” means less time, because the current environment is not calling for downsizing in legal teams.

Doing more work in less time is necessary for lawyers’ mental health. Most of us don’t get paid more for working longer hours, and yet most of us have got into a habit of working longer hours to get the job done. For all our faults, most lawyers are completer-finishers and we don’t like letting clients down. Unfortunately, some organisations will bank that goodwill in the interests of higher profits per lawyer (law firms) or tighter control over legal budgets (corporate legal teams). Until lawyers burn out, or the quality of their work suffers – and then it’s too late.

Sadly, many lawyers experience new technology as a further burden on their already-stressed working life. Most legal tech works, and many vendors have improved the user experience, so the root cause is not poor software. The legacy of technology projects is too many solutions aimed at squeezing more out of lawyers, or controlling their work. The classic example is time capture software that seeks to convert every activity into something billable, in the quest for lawyers to reach a target number of ‘billable hours’. Another example is the imposition of systems to deal with the complexity of client engagements: engagement letters, money-laundering checks, KYC procedures, conflict of interest procedures.

It’s time to use technology to help practitioners do good work and leverage their expertise. Give them sharper saws, not just safety guards. Give everyone dual monitors, a comfortable chair and a decent keyboard. After the basics, think more deeply about using automation projects that recognise the human-in-the-loop. Instead of publishing policies and procedures with hundreds of pages, give people access to tools that make the right things happen by default. Don’t leave lawyers to find creative ways to make Office 365 carry their caseload – take time to configure software that makes it easy to store and retrieve what they need in a way that matches working methods. Worry less about automating expertise – you’re not trying to remove lawyers from the loop – worry more about lightening the load. Automate the things that are more frequent causes of human error. Human error is a sign that you’re asking humans to work in inhumane ways.

If a task is capable of being fully automated, great, do it. Such tasks are probably dull for lawyers and they won’t miss them, and clients don’t want to pay for them.

When you equip lawyers to do good work efficiently, and alternative fee arrangements are still undermining reasonable profits, it’s time to stop doing the work. Wait until the market is ready to value it appropriately, or change the fee arrangement to something that does work. Let someone else race to the bottom while you do work that is valued.

This is for the lawyers, those in law firms, and those working in corporate legal teams. I don’t need to provide an introduction to alternative fee arrangements – you either feel the pressure already, or you work in a space where fee arrangements are settled. It’s sufficient to say that I’m writing about any fee not based on hourly rates.

Can we say that we don’t want fee arrangements to drive a race to the bottom? As Seth Godin observes, the problem with a race to the bottom is that you might win. If you’re stuck in a race to the bottom, please don’t buy a tool like Legito unless you also plan to change direction. Don’t automate broken business practises – the only thing that scales is the poor quality outcomes.

The oft-used phrase from lawyers, especially lawyers in corporate legal teams who cannot control workloads by submitting large invoices, is: “do more with less”. Doing “more” is obviously about getting more work done. Less obviously, “with less” means less time, because the current environment is not calling for downsizing in legal teams.

Doing more work in less time is necessary for lawyers’ mental health. Most of us don’t get paid more for working longer hours, and yet most of us have got into a habit of working longer hours to get the job done. For all our faults, most lawyers are completer-finishers and we don’t like letting clients down. Unfortunately, some organisations will bank that goodwill in the interests of higher profits per lawyer (law firms) or tighter control over legal budgets (corporate legal teams). Until lawyers burn out, or the quality of their work suffers – and then it’s too late.

Sadly, many lawyers experience new technology as a further burden on their already-stressed working life. Most legal tech works, and many vendors have improved the user experience, so the root cause is not poor software. The legacy of technology projects is too many solutions aimed at squeezing more out of lawyers, or controlling their work. The classic example is time capture software that seeks to convert every activity into something billable, in the quest for lawyers to reach a target number of ‘billable hours’. Another example is the imposition of systems to deal with the complexity of client engagements: engagement letters, money-laundering checks, KYC procedures, conflict of interest procedures.

It’s time to use technology to help practitioners do good work and leverage their expertise. Give them sharper saws, not just safety guards. Give everyone dual monitors, a comfortable chair and a decent keyboard. After the basics, think more deeply about using automation projects that recognise the human-in-the-loop. Instead of publishing policies and procedures with hundreds of pages, give people access to tools that make the right things happen by default. Don’t leave lawyers to find creative ways to make Office 365 carry their caseload – take time to configure software that makes it easy to store and retrieve what they need in a way that matches working methods. Worry less about automating expertise – you’re not trying to remove lawyers from the loop – worry more about lightening the load. Automate the things that are more frequent causes of human error. Human error is a sign that you’re asking humans to work in inhumane ways.

If a task is capable of being fully automated, great, do it. Such tasks are probably dull for lawyers and they won’t miss them, and clients don’t want to pay for them.

When you equip lawyers to do good work efficiently, and alternative fee arrangements are still undermining reasonable profits, it’s time to stop doing the work. Wait until the market is ready to value it appropriately, or change the fee arrangement to something that does work. Let someone else race to the bottom while you do work that is valued.

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Contract drafting isn’t taught at law school

Contract drafting isn’t taught at law school

Smart documents can plug the gaps

Contract drafting isn’t taught at law school

Smart documents can plug the gaps

Contract drafting is not taught on most law degrees or at law school. Most lawyers learn during a period of apprenticeship to a more experienced lawyer. Contract drafting is also expensive. Creating a contract from scratch is time-consuming. In truth, not many lawyers are comfortable starting with a blank sheet, and few have clients willing to pay hourly rates for such work. Drafting from a blank sheet is also vulnerable to human error.

The net result is that many contracts originate from a precedent document. Some precedents are better than others, of course. The lawyer tries to squeeze the transaction into the shape of the precedent, or squeeze the precedent into the shape of the transaction. Maybe a bit of both. Sometimes, a contract is created by taking sections from more than one precedent. This cut and paste drafting is used with greater or lesser degrees of skill. 

You would think that contracts evolve from that process. Mostly, that isn’t what happens. It takes confidence, time, and effort to make changes. It’s tempting to assume that the precedent was handed down by experts, and you mess with it at your peril. This is why we still see contracts with archaic phrasing.

If lawyers are reluctant to take anything out of a document (seems risky), they are less reluctant to add to it (belt and braces). On top of archaic language and redundant text, we get over-stuffed contracts because too few people saw the merit in taking anything out.

The more this method of contract drafting continues, the greater the expectation that contracts should follow a set pattern of content and style. Going your own way feels lonely and risky. Lawyers don’t want to produce a document that invites lots of red ink from the traditionalists – their clients might start to question their experience. Better to follow the herd. Business users infer that there’s a good reason why contracts are awful to read and understand.

Still, some lawyers do question the quality of contract drafting. Ken Adams writes about contract disfunction, and more lawyers are ready to accept that current practices are unsatisfactory. There are resources to learn to do it better for those with a will to improve. Adopting automation solutions is a good time to put effort into creating better documents. Don’t use automation to replicate sub-standard documents. Automation makes it worth investing in the base materials and makes sharing the benefits with colleagues easier. Automation makes it possible to do good work without disrupting day-to-day work. Ken Adams writes about the building blocks of contract language. Automation makes it easier to use those building blocks to produce better contracts. Automation is a better way to augment the work of junior lawyers than leaving them to extract anything useful from legacy documents of variable quality.

A library of automated documents will be a more intuitive source for colleagues, so they will be less tempted to revert to legacy documents with unknown pedigree.

When buying complex goods (cars, computers, drugs), it’s comforting to know that expertise is used to create intellectual property in clever designs, and machinery is used to produce them at scale. Such items are consistent, on spec, durable and affordable. Automation enables better outcomes. Contracts are like that – you are not buying artwork with human foibles and flaws built-in.

Contract drafting is not taught on most law degrees or at law school. Most lawyers learn during a period of apprenticeship to a more experienced lawyer. Contract drafting is also expensive. Creating a contract from scratch is time-consuming. In truth, not many lawyers are comfortable starting with a blank sheet, and few have clients willing to pay hourly rates for such work. Drafting from a blank sheet is also vulnerable to human error.

The net result is that many contracts originate from a precedent document. Some precedents are better than others, of course. The lawyer tries to squeeze the transaction into the shape of the precedent, or squeeze the precedent into the shape of the transaction. Maybe a bit of both. Sometimes, a contract is created by taking sections from more than one precedent. This cut and paste drafting is used with greater or lesser degrees of skill. 

You would think that contracts evolve from that process. Mostly, that isn’t what happens. It takes confidence, time, and effort to make changes. It’s tempting to assume that the precedent was handed down by experts, and you mess with it at your peril. This is why we still see contracts with archaic phrasing.

If lawyers are reluctant to take anything out of a document (seems risky), they are less reluctant to add to it (belt and braces). On top of archaic language and redundant text, we get over-stuffed contracts because too few people saw the merit in taking anything out.

The more this method of contract drafting continues, the greater the expectation that contracts should follow a set pattern of content and style. Going your own way feels lonely and risky. Lawyers don’t want to produce a document that invites lots of red ink from the traditionalists – their clients might start to question their experience. Better to follow the herd. Business users infer that there’s a good reason why contracts are awful to read and understand.

Still, some lawyers do question the quality of contract drafting. Ken Adams writes about contract disfunction, and more lawyers are ready to accept that current practices are unsatisfactory. There are resources to learn to do it better for those with a will to improve. Adopting automation solutions is a good time to put effort into creating better documents. Don’t use automation to replicate sub-standard documents. Automation makes it worth investing in the base materials and makes sharing the benefits with colleagues easier. Automation makes it possible to do good work without disrupting day-to-day work. Ken Adams writes about the building blocks of contract language. Automation makes it easier to use those building blocks to produce better contracts. Automation is a better way to augment the work of junior lawyers than leaving them to extract anything useful from legacy documents of variable quality.

A library of automated documents will be a more intuitive source for colleagues, so they will be less tempted to revert to legacy documents with unknown pedigree.

When buying complex goods (cars, computers, drugs), it’s comforting to know that expertise is used to create intellectual property in clever designs, and machinery is used to produce them at scale. Such items are consistent, on spec, durable and affordable. Automation enables better outcomes. Contracts are like that – you are not buying artwork with human foibles and flaws built-in.

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Automated Document Management: A Solution for All Departments

Automated Document Management: A Solution for All Departments

Automated Document Management: A Solution for All Departments

No team works in a bubble. Every department in an organization is a gear in a machine, each working to drive a business towards success. Whether it is the Compliance, Finance, Human Resources, Legal, or Sales, each aspect depends on the other, and each is equally important to the overall success of an enterprise.

Communication is key for collaboration. Unfortunately, many organizations rely on archaic models which implement tools and software that are inherently siloed, and sacrifice flexibility for perceived security.

Automated Document / Contract Lifecycle Management software solutions factor in the importance of different teams sharing information securely but freely.

 

Automatic Population of Documents

Automation tools that allow automatically extract data to populate documents can help many different departments. For instance:

 

User Groups

Departments, teams, and working groups can all be assigned to User Groups with fixed permissions and access. For example,

  • Legal may safely share confidential documents with other members of the legal team User Group, without worrying about adding extra security. 
  • Any department may use Guest settings to grant temporary document access to an external party. Although flexible, the permissions and restrictions can be controlled closely, and rescinded at any time.


Document Sharing; Workflows & Approvals

After a document is created, it can be Shared with other users, User Groups, or even externally. Collaboration with other teams can be streamlined using automated Workflows which automatically send documents to users, or User Groups for Approval. For instance:

  • Sales teams can submit contracts to the finance or product teams for approvals on fees or special use cases. 
  • Legal teams may need to review and negotiate contracts submitted by a sales team, or may need to review Human Resources documents (e.g., employment contracts, redundancy notices, etc.).
  • Finance departments can quickly and securely share quarterly and annual reports with company executives.
  • Compliance and Audit teams may need to review and or revise company policies drafted by the Human Resources team, or confirm that new product specifications meet regulatory requirements.

 

Real-Time Conversations

Different individuals may find the need to collaborate on a document at the same time, and document conversations speed up review process by allowing different team members or teams to share information in real time.  

  • Legal Teams can speed up negotiations by sharing drafting ideas quickly rather than emailing back and forth.
  • Human Resources can work with the finance and compliance teams on the details of an employee offer to ensure that the offer meets company standards, and protections (e.g., accurate salary, ownership of IP).

This is only a sample of some automation features that help teams communicate and support one another in daily operations. An automated document management solution that increasing transparency and accessibility is guaranteed to increase efficiency and growth. 

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