As promised, this month we’re featuring Part Two of a discussion between Elevate's VP of Marketing, Nicole Giantonio, and Kim Lanza-Russo, Director and Product Manager. If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

 

Kim, in last month’s newsletter, you described a ‘design for delight' approach to learn, listen, and hear what’s occurring in our market. What do we hear from law firms and law departments?

One broad finding is that law firms and law departments want to invest in initiatives that support their evolving needs. They're looking for tools that support change, versus tools that track the status of the deliverable through simple data entry. One specific trend we’re looking to support is the need for law departments to function as a corporate service center and become more efficient in how they structure their processes and work with vendors. They need to frame their work in a business context, not a legal context, explaining to the C-suite what they're doing and why. For example, using easily understood business metrics to explain their budget against corporate goals; measuring business value and new-found efficiencies.

Great insight. How is this knowledge useful to Elevate? 

The service center operational model is a major shift in the mindset of law departments. It forces the law department to take an “outside-in” approach for their customer, the business they serve. Part of this is becoming more efficient across the matter lifecycle from internal matter intake to collaborating with outside counsel. For example, many law departments are investigating how to intake legal requests through an intake portal and route them to the correct resource. Other law departments are focusing on how to collaborate better with outside counsel to provide regular updates. They want Elevate to work with them to provide documents, narratives, real-time, and work-in-progress budget updates; they want more back and forth, more collaboration. They want help to be more efficient, to plan better, to manage their resources better. Anything we can do to help a lead attorney or billing attorney understand the status of the work–who’s doing what–would be valued.                     

In addition, we’re hearing from industry leaders that they want a way for their lawyers to collaborate more efficiently across the matter lifecycle. The collaboration opportunity begins when in-house counsel engages outside counsel to set transparent expectations. By allowing in-house counsel the opportunity to collaborate with outside counsel through enhanced communication they become part of the extended team, staying abreast of any issues. Finally, there is a desire for the actual working space to collaborate on deliverables.

Are we talking about a tool that combines workflow and project management? 

Yes. Workflow has several different meanings. When thinking about workflow technology, it can be a hard-coded step one, step two, step three process with some configuration. Depending on how tightly you define the code, we believe that workflow is when you use business process technology, meaning you have a process engine underneath, and you configure different types of business processes on top. Our plan is to provide some pre-built, out-of-the-box legal process maps, a big-time saver to help our customers see value sooner.

Like a process library?

Yes. A pre-built library. We believe this enabling platform with Business Process Management (BPM) technology will be a big change in the market. That's where we are pivoting to at Elevate.

Terrific explanation Kim. When and where will we see this enabling platform first rolled out?

Elevate already uses an open-source platform that includes BPM. We're in the process of adapting it to facilitate an intake process for law department legal requests as part of our matter management solution.  This intake portal for law departments will be the first formal component released on this enabled platform.

Which leads us to our BIG announcement: Our ELM release on June 23, 2020.  What’s next?

Yes, Elevate’s matter management system is the third part of our journey towards completing our ELM release for 2020.

Our first module, which manages outside counsel, allows in-house and outside counsel to collaborate in setting expectations around matter scope, budgets, and resourcing. As you know, we acquired Yerra Solutions in early 2019 which brought us a legal spend and an ebilling solution. We’re combining everything together in a common data platform powered by our machine learning layer called LexPredict, another recent acquisition. This in-house suite of tools will connect to our law firm suite for project management, client management, and invoice management.

The intake portal is an optional component rather than a module; you don't have to use it, while matter management is a full module sitting on a BPM layer. We're also adding additional collaboration capabilities such as basic back and forth messaging, which keeps communication in one centralized place. The other piece, the most significant part, goes back to our findings, we’re designing our ELM for lawyers, the people who will use the system.

Therefore, when a lawyer logs in to their dashboard, they’ll know precisely the essential items that need review. They’ll be able to set the level of reminders and notifications to prepare for upcoming tasks. Just as important, more than creating an e-billing system, we're looking to integrate, to pull in data from an in-place e-billing system to share key insights into spend.

Our ultimate goal is to create a legal collaboration workspace, where legal professionals can share budgets, documents, and data, to further enable the work of lawyering while keeping everyone on the same page.

What’s the early feedback from customers involved in the launch?

Customers are very interested in Elevate’s take on ELM in which law firms and law departments will uncover insights and collaborate more effectively using the Elevate ELM. There is interest in the flexibility of the BPM layer and the ability to streamline legal industry communication, coordination, and collaboration on a shared ELM-powered platform. Frankly, what we've built and are bringing to market should really help GCs achieve better outcomes.