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  • William Sumners

Client Facing LegalTech

Time to be selfish...



When starting a legal tech project that is client facing - be it a portal, an automated document or a tool for your client to use internally - there are a variety of motivations.


Many of these sound great and read like selfless aspirational values:


We want to integrate with our clients to reconceive the paradigm of our relationship to a collaborative journey”.


But words come easy.


If you want to do right by clients, do right by yourself. “Nice to haves” based on good intent are the first to go when a law firm needs to refocus. Your client then risks having their service taken away, leaving them in a worse position than before.


If you want to make something that is sustainable it must be of clear and direct value to your law firm as well as to the client.


Consider your project through the following selfish lenses to see if it fits the bill:


Is this what we want to be doing?

Some law firms have brought into the core of their model a focus on new ways of client interaction. Others hold to a more traditional operating model. It is good to experiment and try new things. But if you are experimenting, there must be a clear intent organisationally to align around the project and stick with it should the success criteria be met. Differentiate between a project that augments your core business stream, and one that is a new direction, treat it accordingly and ensure you have alignment with your law firm.


Is this providing us value?

Value does not always equal profit, and if it doesn’t then there must be a clear alternate metric used as a justification to offset initial and ongoing costs. The client ‘wants it’ is not enough. Does this support retention, support new revenue streams or increase our profile in the market? Whilst priorities may change and the judgement of relative value to investment alter over time, without a measured internal value proposition the project is on poor foundations from the outset.


Where a project will run for a while, the value to both law firm and its client needs to be commensurate. There will be maintenance costs, both for resources and technology, and the project may over time require changes to continue being of value to the client. Not all of these factors may be knowable at the outset, but a reasonable degree of budget planning and/or expectation management about the project's longevity is important to build into your perspective.


Can we scale this?

Consider this in two ways:


Firstly, can what we are building be applied to other projects/clients? Investment of time and energy will pay greater dividends when the core of it has repeatable value. This does not have to mean a carbon copy with a new name slapped on it. The fundamentals of what is made however should be transplantable.


Secondly, can we grow this in the future to greater things? It does not have to be the case that it will, but ensuring the underlying tool lends it self well to addition, be that through its data foundations and interoperability, can improve its value long term.



If you provide a project on this footing, you’ve aligned it with your law firm as well as your clients. This means it is more likely to be long lived, invested in further and flourishing.


The team at echo.legal are experts at partnering with law firms on their client-facing legal technology projects. If you are a law firm looking for support with this, contact julie.saliba@echo.legal or william.sumners@echo.legal.


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