With more than 900 attorneys around the world and the support of hundreds of allied professionals in technology, talent, operations, and client service, the team at Seyfarth Shaw delivers excellence in business and legal outcomes. Their inclusive culture encourages constant improvement through lean methodologies and design thinking, always with the goal of exceptional client experiences in mind.
What’s best for our clients? What sets us apart? How are we helping in addition to providing sound legal advice?
Those questions are at the heart of innovation initiatives at Seyfarth says Dawn Orel, the firm’s Chief Marketing Officer. “For example, where applicable, putting in a process that makes our lawyers more efficient can lead to cost savings for the client.”
Clients often require an immediate response as to why they should hire a firm. According to Orel, “When our client is being sued and they want to know our capabilities by the end of the day…. Well, if we can’t do that, we’re out, even though we may be the most qualified.”
Gathering a complete answer for clients and lawyers was a challenge before Foundation. The manual process involved visiting multiple data sources (including disparate databases), a combination of spreadsheets, and pardon the interruption emails sent to attorneys. Editing stored data was time consuming and required a lot of rebuilding.
Andrew Jurczyk, Chief Information Officer at Seyfarth Shaw, concurs: “I think about the time involved from all the departments, including IT, Marketing, Conflicts, Finance, etc., prior to Foundation. It all elongated the time it took us to provide information to a practice group, locate expertise, and respond to an RFP. Now, something that used to take us a week to complete takes minutes. It’s really significant.”
Unifying Data Pays Dividends
Determining the number of cases that have been settled in a specific area is one example of what should have been a simple request to satisfy for a partner, or analyzing specific transactions related to healthcare where the clients were in the banking industry.
The team would spend long hours pulling data from different databases, requesting information from the Docketing department and/or individual practices, and consolidating findings in Excel. A quick search in Foundation can now quickly and completely answer client queries like these.
“I think the biggest impact for us is really having all that information in a single view and the amount of time it saves us to have it all available within a couple of clicks. It’s of enormous business value,” Jurczyk explains. “Moreover, running analytics on the combined and enriched information enables us to derive business decisions from it. That’s really transformative for our firm.”
Innovation and the Practice of Law
Giving attorneys the ability to relay stories about how they’ve helped other clients in a similar position is key for establishing credibility and expertise for the firm. Instead of relying on anecdotes, lawyers can now share examples supported by facts and data.
Orel recalls all of the “rework” the firm used to do, collecting and augmenting similar data, whether to respond to clients or to run analysis for a partner. Without a place to centrally store and manage that data and any new context collected, each request was like starting all over again.
Seyfarth adds details to passively collected data in Foundation, which helps their lawyers collaborate and efficiently provide service to their clients. Additional notes, transaction specifics, and matter events all help the attorneys relay to their clients, “This is what another client went through. Here’s what we’ve done. Here’s how we helped them and can do the same for you,” describes Orel.
“The ability for firms to use data on a daily basis to differentiate their services and the analytics that can be performed in a fast, real-time manner, is really going to separate which firms will succeed in the market going forward,” explains Jurczyk.
Pricing and Staffing
Seyfarth isn’t immune to the pressures of clients expecting lower rates, so they’re using technology to help them better price matters to stay competitive without sacrificing service.
Andrew Masak, Manager of Strategic Pricing, says that Foundation helps his team understand data with more accuracy when a partner wants to price or discuss strategy with a client. It’s something that was time-consuming and cumbersome to do before Foundation.
“Foundation enables us to align our historic data with changing client expectations, helping our pricing capability considerably,” says Masak. “We’re now able to target representative matters based on a client’s industry, jurisdiction, and any number of matter specifics.”
Similarly, Foundation enables Seyfarth to search for attorneys across a variety of criteria without sending out a barrage of disruptive emails. For example, the team can quickly look up who in the Atlanta office has traditional labor experience with a history in the tech sector to streamline staffing a matter with the best-matched talent.
An Agile Approach
While Seyfarth knew much of what they initially wanted to integrate with Foundation and the additional information they wanted to track, they are continually finding new ways to help them better serve their clients and operate more efficiently.
“The ability to easily configure Foundation has been of tremendous value to us,” notes Masak. “We were able to use a standard set of fields and metrics to get started, but as our needs and the capabilities of Foundation continue to increase and as we’ve become more sophisticated with the software, we’ve been able to add more fields and take advantage of new features that make an impact in our firm and set us apart in the marketplace.”
Looking to the Future
Jurczyk believes that the reason he’s at Seyfarth is to provide service to its lawyers and clients through innovative technology and architecture — infrastructure that is increasingly critical to the success of any law firm. In addition to keeping the lights on and the trains on time, his goal is to derive business value from the information they have on their networks.
“Foundation has made a number of impacts at Seyfarth Shaw, including integrating with our Data Lake to improve the quality and completeness of information available for analysis. And I think it’s the tip of the iceberg in what we can do,” concludes Jurczyk. “It’s also opened up the leadership’s perspective on the value that data can provide at the firm, and it’s inspiring them to apply analytics and technology to other areas in the organization.”
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