Litera’s Vice President, Drafting Go-to-Market, shares stories of successful legal technology adoption with two law firm technology leaders. Read transcript
Posted in The Changing Lawyer
Litera’s Vice President, Drafting Go-to-Market, shares stories of successful legal technology adoption with two law firm technology leaders. Read transcript
Posted in The Changing Lawyer
Vice President, Drafting Go-To-Market
Former Application Support Analyst
Chief Information Officer, McAfee & Taft
Welcome to Legal Tech Matters, a Litera podcast dedicated to creating conversations about trends, technology and innovation for modern law firms and companies big and small.
The global pandemic has changed our approach to managing change itself, so our next panel will share their experiences of successful tech adoptions to help us navigate and to have a heads up on what has and hasn't worked.
Well, welcome to the second session of our lawyers open to technology talk track. This session is titled Successful Law Firm Adoption Stories and it is a 30 minute interactive session. I am Matt James the V.P. of Go-To Market for the drafting business unit here at Litera and I am joined by two very experienced incredible panelists. So before we jump into the discussion and some of the story sharing, I would appreciate if maybe the two of you could introduce yourself and a bit of your background. So why don't we go ahead and start with Mary?
My name is Mary Nearing. I am with Robinson Bradshaw of Charlotte, North Carolina. I have been there since 1999. Just subtract a little eleven months. I moved back to India and I got a crazy idea to move where it was cold.
In any case, I have been through a lot with Bradshaw. I started out as their trainer. I was their helpdesk. I was there to help desk manager and I moved into applications and I've been doing applications now for the firm since 2003. So a lot of rollouts of different products over the years and a lot of experience to solve that.
And my name is Rick Thompson, and I'm with McAfee & Taft in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I've been here just about two and a half years.
I have been in the CIO legal technology leadership space for nearly 25 years. Prior to that, on owning a business and consulting so consulting with law firms prior to my becoming a CIO working with one, this is my fourth law firm in this role and just very excited for all the things that we're able to bring to the table and and improve.
Wonderful and for the audience. I asked both Rick and Mary to join based off of conversations that I had with them throughout the last year, and both of them had a very refreshing point of view, from my perspective.
It was good to hear that we're all kind of striving in the same direction for success in regard to leveraging technology. But it wasn't the common boilerplate feedback that I've constantly heard and other conversations, and I thought it would be very enjoyable for you guys to share your story here.
I think maybe prior to getting into a couple of questions and then the story is obviously a Changing Lawyer Summit. So we are referencing a publication and in the area of our focus, there were some data points that I thought would be important.
One broad statement, which I think is is where we'll kind of, you know, take this directionally is that a crisis can be a catalyst for positive change. Wolters Kluwer did a particular survey where they identified that 76% of lawyers believe that technology is a key concern for them, while 28% said that their organization is really prepared for it. So kind of a mismatch on that. And then to answer really the question here, which is our lawyers open to adoption, which I think is a bit leading. There is also data that came from the Law 2020 legal tech survey that said pre-pandemic 40% of lawyers were open to it, whereas now it's 54%.
So that being said, much of the article points to efficiency and workflow, reduced operating budget and then health and well-being of their lawyers. So as you sit in front of me, I think this would be great to kick it off by asking the question around how the pandemic has impacted your approach to adoption, business continuity or even your perspective on success. So maybe we'll start with Mary on this one again.
So basically, I would say how the pandemic has affected us, so we have been able to get more attorneys into training than ever before. I think that that's surprising, first of all. But when we sat down and we really looked at the numbers, it wasn't so much that they had more time. It was just that it was more convenient for them to hop on a Zoom session than it was for them to walk down the hall into a training room.
So as far as that goes, I mean, that was a complete and utter surprise to us. I don't want to talk all the time, so I'm going to leave time for Rick.
Sure, absolutely. I think I would certainly echo what Mary said. You know, one of the things that I've learned over the many years I've done this is lawyers love training. Actually, that's not something. They hate training for a couple of good reasons, but I think we had a similar experience when we entered the time of the pandemic.
Lawyers were also interested in, for the first time, many of them, on how to really work effectively remotely. And then, even more importantly, how to work with staff remotely where they didn't have them right down the hall or right next to them.
So it really showed them how dependent they were on technology. And I think it really made the technology more relevant. And I think the adoption and interest of training really is around interest and really relevance to their business, and they saw that pretty clearly this time.
So really, I think it really helped us in a number of ways. We, of course, were really ready for remote access to remote work, so it really didn't impact us a great deal other than just being physically, not together.
Yeah. Can I agree real quick? I think that is one of the big things is the fact that the attorneys didn't have their LPA right across the hall. And so it was harder to get in contact with that person. So they had to figure out how to do things on their own kind of the same thing with the, you know, being ready to be remote. We don't really want to put out fires. We want to prevent the fires in the first place. So for example, our firm, we had VDI 100% for years now, and to the attorneys, it was just no, OK, whatever that means. You know, for I.T., you're like, This is great. It's so easy to rebuild a PC, but that wasn't high priority to them.
Well, with the pandemic coming out, it was nothing. We just said, Hey, if you haven't already been working from home. Let us show you how it's already here. So I think that led to a lot more adoption, and some people that probably had that fear of technology, they were forced to get over it, quite honestly. And then realizing they didn't have that support as quickly at their fingertips made them, Oh well, let me maybe try to do this before I reach out and ask the question.
Right, right. Yeah. As I hear you guys talk about this, I lead some internal education here, and someone had brought it to my attention that I know it was discussed. I know that you had presented it, but we don't actually recognize this importance until we're experiencing it. And I think this is kind of a forced experience where at that point in time, you could align education to it. And it was it was pretty well received.
So knowing that it kind of impacted and changed your approach, and again, it was more real time. How did you in your last project, probably during this pandemic, define success, right? I think as we consider adoption success, we better define what that actually means and what we're looking to accomplish. So Rick maybe you could take this one and help us understand how you define success and maybe tie it back to your most recent now?
Absolutely. So one of it, so I agree with you that adoption and not just perfunctory adoption or mechanical adoption, but through embracing and getting benefit from the tools that we're providing attorneys, is really a measure of success. Our most recent major project I called we mentioned is TMI.
And in this case, it does not mean too much information, although some attorneys thought it meant that, but it was a Technology Modernization Initiative that we went through to really bring the front office up to speed, and we actually went the reverse direction from Mary's firm.
We actually went from VDI that was installed probably ten years ago, and it was working far less effectively than could be or should be. And we actually went to a fat client. We actually put new laptops in front of lawyers and watch Windows ten and actually use the systems center and things to manage that.
So we actually went the reverse direction, although our remote access is quite effective for that. But that project meant upgrading not just the operating system, but every application. And it really touched every practice group and a lot of the many applications that each practice group uses specifically.
And I think for me, part of that it was it was a tighter and a better opportunity for me to interact directly with the lawyers, which I love to do, you know, in the first place. But there's one instance I can share with you that, to me, really was a clear example of what I call success. I had one lawyer look across and see your lawyer look across the desk from me at the completion of this project, and I was just talking about kind of the benefits and then really how this can improve his practice and the practice group that he worked with.
And he looked over and leaned in it, said, Rick, I've got to tell you, in the nearly 30 years I've been practicing law, this is the first time someone in I.T. has leaned across to me and said, How can I help you in your business? How can I help your practice? And it was the first time someone didn't just say, How can I force some new software or a new piece of hardware on you? But it really became relevant to him, and I was actually offering a business solution, and I showed them that I really cared about helping him be successful as a lawyer and not just push technology. That was a light bulb for him, and that was really a significant example of success.
And I would imagine just on that feedback that probably lays the groundwork for continued success with future projects, right? Because he knows that you're going to take that into consideration. I don't know if he meant to do it, but you did speak to not forcing it, which is actually part of the article that is in the Changing Lawyer. That is the number one piece you do not try to force. It'll probably get started on the wrong foot. Very similar experience in regard to success and feedback there, or something slightly different.
So I think again, it's kind of that forced versus it's the push versus the pull. So during the pandemic, for example, right when the pandemic hit, we were in the process of moving everyone to a brand new image, which is the same as, you know, giving them a whole new computer. We use persistent desktops, so everyone has their own virtual machine.
It's just like just like Rick's environment, these just happen to be in cloud. The first question we were asked was, Are you guys going to move forward with this? Or we can wait. And we said, No, we're going to keep going. We we have to get this done. You're on a version of Windows. It's outdated, are going to be outdated. And so we were able to get that done throughout the pandemic and that was a huge win. But I wouldn't say that the firm saw that as a success because to them, they just kept working. There was nothing different to it. It was a huge success. We got it done. We beat the deadlines and everything was great. I gave my my college or almost college son something to do to because he he joined it and helped with the bills.
Great little way to spend his time. But. The other thing I'm going to say is that when there is a poll by the attorneys, so it's something that they need and we're able to provide that to them, then things measure the success automatically, almost so how do I what do I need? So we had an attorney join our firm and there was a product that he was using at his former firm that he said, Hey, I want this.
We said we only have two licenses of that and it's in our document services department. We said, Well, I really want this on my desktop. So we began working with a vendor who happens to be Litera to get that product in front of more people because he was able to act as a champion to that and he was able to tell us why it was helpful. We were able to share that with the other attorneys in the firm and that Paul made them say, I want to do this too. I want to be more successful myself.
So we've completed that, that rollout, and I will say that it's been very successful. We've had more and more attorneys say ooh I want to do that to or how do you how do you do that? He just said he looked at all the design terms, you know, just like that, how do I do that?
And so I think it's the pull versus the push. So what we're saying are really listening and solving the problem, I think, is very beneficial. So our success measurement for that was basically attorneys talking to each other about the process.
And so from both of you, I'm hearing anecdotally, there were success related to feedback or, you know, internal organic growth in conversation. Quickly, do either of you have some metrics that that you are always looking at in regard to either usage or adoption or something to that extent that just kind of rise to the top for you and what you're looking at?
Mm-Hmm. So I'll take this real quick, Rick. So every month we do get a report of usage stats from some of our products comes from your company and we are able we track. And so we can actually track that usage and see that it's either maintaining or going up, depending on what we're doing and we've been able to tie that. So for example, one of the products we didn't think had very high usage. We took a month, month and a half last year and we said to our trainer, focus on this, send out some tips, posts and videos.
Do whatever. Let's see what happens to usage and guess what usage for that product went up during our rollout, of Litera Check. The usage was up, and so obviously they were just everyone was trying it out, everyone was using it.
So I thought, what's going to happen just this next month when we're not actively pushing and doing training? And I'm happy to say that the number stayed up. It didn't drop dramatically. So there's a few less documents being used, but I'm able to look at those numbers and say, yes, people are using it and I do get asked that. My I.T. director will say, Are people even using these products and to be able to actually show him numbers is spectacular.
In addition to the time savings, we were able to have an LPA say it takes 55 minutes to do this TOA versus the manual way our paralegals are taking eight hours to do it. And so in order to show them that and say this is a fact and you can save yourself time. But I think one of the fears with some of that not just attorneys, but your paralegals and everything is it's not about working less, it's not about taking their job away, it's about working smarter.
And so a lot of times you hear people say, Well, if it's quicker for me, I'm going to build less time or they're not going to need me as much. It's going to replace my job. I don't think that's the case. I think it's a smarter way to work and using those tools, and you're able to do more so instead of just doing it for one client or one document in one day. Now you can do four or five.
So it's just becoming more efficient.
I think Mary is absolutely right. I've had the same feedback from lawyers who've really recognized the opportunity cost that was lost by spending more time doing things inefficiently. And so they've really embraced a lot of the tools that will help them do this in less time.
And they realize that no, now they can actually serve clients better. They can actually do more more work for clients and actually just be cognizant of what they're spending in terms of budget for that, for the work they're doing for the client.
So that rings true with me as well. We also saw a pretty significant uptick, as I mentioned earlier, in remote access. You know, we use a VPN connection. We have a few remote desktop services connections, you know, similar to Citrix but for the most part, we saw a very significant uptick in VPN access. And I actually had some good conversations with some of the lawyers to understand kind of why they were experiencing or having a more improved use of remote access in VPN.
And they said, first of all, I realize that I'm working just like I was at the office. So that's really helpful. But frankly, I'm seeing a significant trend in the interest of lawyers to have a life. I mean, they really want to be home for dinner with the family. They really want to be, you know, at Billy's baseball game. I mean, they really want to go to Susie's recital. They really want to spend more time with the family, and that quality of life has become so much more important.
And so this traditional, you know, let's work 70 hours at the office is just kind of going away. I mean, they're they'll work late at night, but from home after the kids are in bed, you know, if they have to catch up on something.
But we saw a significant uptick on that. We are also, pleasantly so, saw a significant uptick in our adoption of document management, which was really helpful. I'm a huge proponent. I'm going to get off on a tangent, which I can do sometimes, but do it. But I'm a big proponent of information governance, you know, data governance and and document management. That's certainly a part of that. And when I when I came, I mean, there were certainly all kinds of pockets of information, you know, people kept data on their desktop.
A lot of times in some folder locally on a floppy disk. And I'm kidding. But I mean, but I mean, being myself, I say that I'm just kidding. But but it was a lot of it was not appropriately so in the document management system. So there's been a great adoption about the use of that, where it's appropriate, you know, all the work, product and correspondence, the clients are now there and searchable and and usable. So that was an uptick for us.
And I think as Mary was speaking in, then again with nailing the word, I was thinking of trying there, the ability to recognize trends and then the ability to actually influence the trends just by having some of that data. And I know Gardner, who's obviously very big in their data and analytics and so forth, tends to speak to the fact that we get so caught up in the dashboard of just metrics that we don't actually look at the story behind it. And uncovering the story does tell you a lot about how someone is working, and you can often empower them to use technology or process or those people, as you had mentioned, in a far better manner.
Okay. So before we get into a little bit of the storytelling, I'd also like to really understand how you motivate and inspire lawyers, right? I think it's well known that no one wants change for sake of change. It's largely steered by the human race, just in general. So what is it that you have done, or any unique approaches that you've taken to really get people excited about what it's going to provide. Marry will go back to you to start with this.
OK, so first of all, it's the I don't want to call it the jealousy factor, but it is the jealous factor.
So I talked earlier about the attorneys that liked the product or use the product telling other attorneys about it. It's that fear of missing out FOMO, as they call it, the cool people. So we all want to be like or do as well as someone else. I mean, that's everyone from your LPA to your attorney. And so if an attorney feels that someone else is able to do something better than him or her, they want to know, why can't I do that? And now I want to try it.
It's the old, the attorney who takes a laptop to a meeting and doesn't turn it on or know how to use it. But they have that laptop, like everybody else, is sitting right in front of them. And this is from a long time ago. Not now, but ah, but yeah, I think some of the things that you know, that really drive and get people excited about the learning has to do with what others are saying. And you know, when you're online, when you're on a social, you know, messaging board or something like that, what are you looking at?
You're looking at what other people are doing. And so if the attorneys here, other attorneys in the firm are able to do this and are able to do it efficiently and it's working well for them, they want to do it to some other fun things that we did. We provided gift cards. We had some drawings for gift cards with our last one. I don't want to go too much into stories, but those are some the things you can't provide because we're all remote so we could send a DoorDash gift card or something like that. But some of us live in areas where what can you get McDonald's, you know, that might be it. So we did some drawings for some different gift cards. If you attended these classes, you're in a drawing for this. If you attended these or you filled out the evaluation, there was a bigger one. So everybody likes gift cards.
So, yeah, I believe it. And you say jealousy, but there is a lot of competition there, right? I was working at the firm is we're building in ROI study and one of the comments there was do not underestimate how competitive this industry is. These individuals are - so not surprised to hear that record. Are you? Yeah.
Hold on. I want to throw a one more thing. The one thing about Robinson Bradshaw is that our firm is a little bit different than most. We don't the attorneys they all share clients like clients don't belong to an attorney, anything like that. So sometimes you think the competition isn't fair because our attorneys work a lot differently than other firms, but I think it's all about individual psychological competition. So sorry, go ahead.
No, I couldn't agree with that. Mary, you're spot on with the idea of you know, the fear of missing out. You know, the FOMO factor. I completely agree and also agree with this principle characteristic that lawyers have of being competitive. Some people say, are lawyers competitive, you know, because they were lawyers? Or do they become lawyers because they're competitive? So maybe there's a little bit of a mix there. But yeah, so we similarly over the years have done this.
I have been very successful in - because I have a lot of my closest friends are lawyers, so a lot of my best lawyer jokes are actually from friends of mine - which I won't go into. But what I've been able to do is really establish relationship a connection with them and help them with a new tool or a new process or something that is really a benefit to them, and they're not bashful about showing it off. And so you're obviously right. I mean, they they show what others, what they can do and then those around them want the same thing.
And so it really starts to catch on. And then I start getting a lot of demand for the same thing and it just becomes kind of contagious in a good way. So super, super excited about kind of how that works.
And we had a very successful last month and probably know October was National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. And so information security is near and dear to my heart. And so, you know, it's really important that you create a security conscious or a security culture of awareness among everyone or that's everyone's got to be their own human firewall, per se.
Super important, clearly. And I was really surprised to see we had a majority of our lawyers, which is I expected just a fraction of them to participate. You know, we're an a law 200 firm. And so I thought, you know, they're busy, they're not going to participate. You know, we did a theme each week related to password security and then related to confidentiality, reality related to social engineering. And then our last week wrapped up with just personal security. You know, how do you actually keep your your banking and your online purchases secure as well?
And so. And we had posters and information, and we did a pretty good job and had fun doing it. But we had cash prizes and we gave away an iPad mini at the end of the month for those who participated in all of the training and it was brief, and I was like five, ten minute training videos, and then we had our trivia question each week that you had to complete based on the training and was actually a lot of, you know, gamification quite a bit.
And I was surprised to see how much participation we got from lawyers. You know, high percentage of staff, but also high percentage of lawyers jumped in. They wanted an iPad and we had a chance to really help them create a greater security awareness at the same time.
So. You know, it's still to this day my my top LinkedIn post was something that I could share that kind of showed the different approaches that you could take to passwords and actually how just a phrase is it more difficult to crack than any of the others? But I think security is sexy in many ways. People do get excited about that.
When I try to share it with people, I, you know, and we originally went to a much longer password than they were used to, they're used to an eight character minimum. We made that significantly longer. And I had some initial groaning, and some of the senior lawyers especially said it's impossible. I can't remember a password that long. And I looked at him and I said, Can you remember something like "my cat likes to eat butter in the garage," you know, or something?
And so it's like, it's like 25 characters. So I said, Jack, you do that. That makes sense. So it makes sense perfect. All right. Well, great stuff, right? It seems that way. Yeah, seems that way. Absolutely.
Okay. So I'll share a quick little story. And then I think we have just under six minutes here, maybe for the two of you to share an approach. And my hope is that not only you can talk about something successful, but maybe even what was not successful as that help govern some of the the way that we have approached our adoption and change management projects with our team Just off of the coattails, what we're saying I I worked at the firm a while back who recognized that for lawyers to find a desire to use that technology or to consider it innovative, it needs to be something that they could leverage during their pitch decks or pitches to clients, right?
So I actually had the luxury of going with the managing partner of a large law firm to their biggest client in their boardroom to show it off and really, OK, this is what we're doing. But that was really what they were trying to capture. There is that if we can get technology to be something that our lawyers are promoting, then we have absolutely hit their motivation and the need for it, right? Because they're bringing it in business So do either of you have an adoption story that you have in mind that you'd like to start off with that? Maybe you could share with the greater audience?
So, yeah, so I was recruited, you know, several years back by a firm in Denver, Colorado, and interestingly, I wasn't looking for a job and they they pulled me away and we had we had enjoyed a hard time in Colorado, but I was there for a less than a month and it was a fairly large firm. We had something like 14 offices and, you know, far bigger than the firm I'm with now. And I was there for a month invite and invited to participate in the lawyer retreat that was held in Las Vegas. And I sat there all weekend listening to all the different practice groups talk about how they were going to succeed. You know what they're going to do to grow their business. We had marketing come up and talk, you know, we had the managing director come in and talk about how he's going to grow the firm.
We had a couple of other guest people come in just talked about how we can actually make lawyers better lawyers and make us more efficient. I was the last guy to talk. So I'm a CIO. And so it's and of course, everyone went long. Everyone went longer than they should. And so I'm the last on the agenda for the for the entire event. And people are waiting for massage appointments or tee times, you know, to go and play golf or whatever. The last thing they want to do is listen to it, go talk about what's happening with technology.
And so I came up to the platform and I'm addressing, you know, there's a few hundred people actually in the audience, you know, all lawyers. And I said, I want to, you know, first of all, introduce myself. And so I said, you know, that's where I am and what I'm doing. But I said, I I've listened all weekend to all your plans to help grow and make this business and help this firm succeed. And I will tell you, good technology will not guarantee the success of this firm. And then I then I just paused for probably about five or six seconds, which might have seemed like an eternity. And they're all leaning forward like, what is it or is he going with this?
And then I said, yes, good technology will not guarantee the success of this firm, but bad technology is certainly going to inhibit it. And they all breathe a sigh of relief, and they all nodded and said yes because they are experiencing a substantial amount of pain. And so I spoke for about another 15 minutes talking about where we were, how we got there, what I needed to do to change it and the questions that they really want answered. And I know this for all to do this for so many years.
What are you going to do? Why are you going to do it? How is it going to benefit me? I was going to take you in. What's the last question? How much is this going to cost? It's like, really cover those in bullet point in about 15 minutes. And I walked away with approval to spend $5 million on an infrastructure project. So how did the best 15 minutes I ever spent? And that was a really, really good adoption that ended up being an 18 month project that was really, really well adopted.
And when I left there, I was recruited away again to a firm in Minneapolis. The managing director came to me and he said, Rick, I want to tell you, I will never forget what you've done for the term. Thank you. So that 15 minutes in Las Vegas really paid off.
Mary I'll give you an opportunity and I'll wrap it up.
Yeah, say I feel like I've kind of shared a little mini adoption story throughout this entire 30 minutes, so I don't want to take a ton of time. I would just say that the successful adoptions that we have had are all of those where we have involved the end users, be it the attorneys, the LPAs, everyone within the group, the ones that have not been as successful are those that we have done that I don't want to say it, but someone is just pushing for their own agenda.
We've seen things fail over the years where one attorney says, I want this software and he's an important person. So we get that software and it sits on people's desk for three years. We pay for it. No one ever uses it and we try. We do what we need to do. But it's it has to have an end user kind of behind it. And it's not just one person. It has to be a whole group of people.
So I think for for me, what I will say is that our last project with the last one I worked on, I'm working on a gazillion of them right now. But the last one was our big deployment of some software and the the way that we got it done was the attorneys as champions demonstrate spreading the word and sharing with people. And I think that if you do that, I think that you can make almost any project successful, not just one! You have to have a lot.
Yeah. And a lot of what you guys are saying, teams like you have built a rapport, you've kind of laid the groundwork for future projects. I know we didn't get to it, but Rick, I know you subscribe to a particular radio station, which I think also is kind of the theme of this. And you can hear that.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So you're going to say and I learned a long time ago and this is not, you know, it's probably a cliché and probably not something that I invented. But I do agree that everyone listening to the radio station WII-FM. Right. So it's "what's in it for me" and really to dovetail and agree completely with what Mary said. People have to understand what's in it for them.
And you're only going to get that if you communicate and involve them. And to your point, Mary, I think as you said it beautifully. If there is no involvement in a project, there is no commitment to making it succeed. And know people can end up being passive aggressive, saying, You know what? I had no say in that I had no, you know, they didn't include me, so I'm not going to really be a champion for it. But when you make people, when you involve people and listen to them and help them understand what's really in it for them, make it relevant, make it interesting, make it beneficial.
That's when they get on board and they end up being the champions. I mean, they end up being your evangelists for the rest of the firm and actually getting people on board.
Well, I'll tell you from my point, what's in it for me? I appreciate you guys joining this session today. It turned this into a heavy success. I know that there is an audience of folks out there who have struggled with adoption or change and may not recognize every single day that they're in the same boat as many people have found success. And I think if everyone follows kind of the plan that you set out to them or set out in front of them, everybody should get that 5 million dollar budget approved and on with the next project, right?
All right. Well, I appreciate you guys joining. Thanks again. That wraps up our session today and we'll see you soon. Thank you.
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