Lawtech showcase: Legal Front Door, Addleshaw Goddard
In the next in our series exploring the lawtech solutions being developed by law firms, Ellen Catherall talks us through Addleshaw Goddard's Legal Front Door, which lets in-house teams get an immediate overview of all matters they are working on.
About the product
What is the Legal Front Door (LFD) and who is it for?
The LFD is a simple tool for small in-house legal teams to log and track the matters they're working on.
How does it work? What are the key features?
It’s a tool configured on HighQ – an ISO 27001-certified cloud platform that is used extensively by the legal industry.
Each lawyer within an in-house team is given their own, unique login. Once logged in, lawyers can log matters into the site's database by filling out a short questionnaire. We have a standard list of eight questions, which includes fields such as the name of the person within the business who has asked for legal advice, the name of the in-house lawyer who is dealing with the matter, and various specifics about the matter itself.
All the questions are customisable, though, and we sit down with each GC or in-house team at the outset to decide what data they would like to collect so we can customise the tool to suit their requirements.
The LFD includes a dashboard of graphs which are fed automatically by the information in the database. The graphs help GCs and legal teams see at-a-glance key pieces of information, such as how many matters they are working on and when those matters were first logged into the tool. The graphs can be customised to suit the needs of the team.
We can create different levels of access to the database. For example, if the GC would like to have the complete picture of matters their team is working on, but the access of others within the team needs to be restricted, we can accommodate that.
What are the main benefits for clients?
It’s as quick and easy to use as a spreadsheet, but with the added benefits of automated dashboard reporting and the security of individual password-protected logins.
In-house legal teams have been under pressure to deliver more value for less cost for many years. The first step towards this is for the legal team to keep an accurate record of the matters they work on. However, we believe that this shouldn't be time-consuming in itself. The LFD allows you to log a matter with as much or as little information that they have: it is designed to be used for just seconds at a time, perhaps whilst taking instructions over the phone.
Organisations also expect their in-house legal function to be able to report on the value they are delivering. Real-time, automated dashboard reporting within the LFD helps you keep an eye on the flow rate of work and capacity of your team. Graphs can feed in to periodic reporting which might already take place, therefore saving time to prepare them.
Who is it aimed at precisely?
The LFD is aimed at organisations with smaller legal teams which had not been used to working remotely prior to COVID-19. We have seen that teams of up to about 25 people will benefit most from this tool. Larger teams have more complex reporting needs and so very often already have tools in place to assist with matter intake: there are a variety of software solutions available on the market, but they tend to be expensive, and often also offer more functionality than smaller teams require.
For those in-house teams who are looking to optimise their matter intake, triage and resource allocation process, AG Consulting, led by director Greg Bott, can help.
Could you give us an example of how the LFD works in practice, and how it could solve a practical / legal question?
The LFD allows in-house teams to answer the questions: "What is my team working on, for whom, and how long are 'matters' open for?". Increasingly, legal teams are being asked to report on the work that they do and the value that they bring to the organisation. The LFD allows you to log legal instructions quickly and easily. The data about those instructions are structured and available to view graphically within a dashboard, snapshots of which can be exported to reports.
What feedback have you had from clients? Are any case studies available?
The feedback from clients has been overwhelmingly positive, with particular focus on how easy the tool is to use. GCs who have been exploring ways in which they might capture more data about the work that they and their team are doing have been excited to see the possibilities afforded by the LFD.
What does the setup / implementation process look like?
We will discuss with each client what they're looking to get out of the tool, so that we can recommend a bespoke configuration of both the questionnaire and the dashboard, which will ensure it meets their needs (this takes about half an hour over a Teams call). We then implement the bespoke configuration, which usually takes a few hours.
When the site is ready, we send a login invitation to each of the lawyers within the team.
We provide a user guide and also a short training session on Teams, if required.
Is it easy to use? Is any [free] training provided?
Yes, very! It is designed to be intuitive to use and the feedback has said that it is exactly that. Free training is provided and support as and when required is also available.
Are there any plans to further develop the product?
There are myriad ways we could develop the product further. However, the LFD has been compared preferentially against other, more feature-rich products available, precisely because it is easy to use and budget-conscious GCs are not required to pay for functionality that will be rarely used. Any developments would, therefore, be developed after consultation with our existing clients.
How is the LFD priced?
We offer the LFD on a subscription basis: the first three months are free, and thereafter we charge £6,000 plus VAT per year. The subscription includes unlimited user logins.
Are free trials and/or demonstrations available?
Yes: we are happy to arrange a short demonstration for any interested in-house legal team and discuss their requirements. We also offer a free three-month trial with no obligation to continue.
Ellen Catherall speaks more about how the Legal Front Door came about.
What prompted you to build this solution?
Over the last few years, our Consulting and Innovation and Legal Technology teams – which form part of AG Intelligent Delivery – have discussed matter intake and triage with a wide range of companies with legal teams, ranging from a just a couple of people to hundreds. We’ve discovered that the majority of in-house legal teams would like to have access to more data about the type of work that they do and for which parts of the business, and they would like technology to help them collate the data.
The first step in this direction is a tool which helps teams record the matters on which they're instructed by their business. The LFD offers a team that perhaps has been thinking about collating some data about the work they undertake, a chance to test the possibility for free at a time when their current way of working is perhaps not suitable for the future.
What challenges did you encounter in building technology internally? Can you share any key lessons / takeaways?
One of the most important lessons we have learned is to make sure that all the relevant stakeholders are involved in the conversation to define what it is that could be improved, and listen to what each person has to say. Tools are only useful if they solve a challenge that actually exists.
What are you working on next?
The team is constantly busy providing innovative technological support for legal matters worked on by our lawyers, as well as helping our clients' in-house legal teams commission and implement legal technology which will help them digitise.
If you had to summarise as a tweet – what would be your predictions for legal technology over the next 12 months?
I'd like to see continued progress towards legal technology solutions becoming ever more integrated to enable a greater digital uptake throughout the whole legal process from end to end.