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  • Writer's pictureJulie Saliba

Collaborating with clients on legal technology projects



The echo.legal team have lots of experience working with law firms to create and implement legal technology projects for their clients. We have pulled together some of our thoughts for law firms looking to work with their clients on innovative initiatives powered by legal tech.


Let’s start with the basics:


What is a “client legal technology project” ?

  • A project that provides the client a new or improved service facilitated by legal technology.

  • It may be accessible by the client directly, but it’s also not a necessity – the key is that it supports their needs.

  • Client projects can be based around many different types of legal technology and could include elements of automation, collaboration, advice-giving or even AI.


What are some examples of a client project ?

  • Automation of a client owned agreement(s) to be run by the client themselves (eg an NDA or employment documents generator for internal use by the client).

  • Automation of industry wide documents to be run by the client for use as part of a transaction (eg a term sheet generator for the loans market).

  • A client portal providing them access to a range of information around the work you are doing for them, facilitating processes such as new work requests.

  • Tracker type tools that track publicly available data but are folded into a portal with law firm knowhow and analyses.

  • “Expert systems” or chat bots available to clients that deliver jurisdiction - specific advice based on a number of regulatory factors.

Why should law firms offer their legal technology to their clients ?

There are a number of reasons why the law firms we work with at echo.legal offer their technology to clients:


1. It delivers client value

Offering services externally allows a law firm to deliver services 24/7 without being physically present. This could be in the form of regulatory advice (delivered via an "expert system" or automated flowchart) or access to legally verified documents via document automation platforms.


2. It helps deepen client relationships

Creating useful technology platforms that go beyond delivering legal advice ensures the firm remains front and centre when clients require a new engagement or service. With so many law firms offering the same range of services, it is a way to stand out.


3. It helps win new clients

Many law firms start by offering relatively straightforward and cost-effective services to clients (or even prospective clients) to help win business and gain the trust of new clients. A great example of this are those law firms offering automated incorporation or employment documents. This establishes a relationship that can be built on for more complex instructions (e.g. IPO, acquisitions or mergers).


4. It helps expand the firm’s role in the organisation

Offering innovative services enables a law firm to extend its footprint in the organisation. For example, a legal front door provided to the client, can provide triage between internal and external counsel, allowing direct interaction with the business while lightening the load on the in house team.


Points to consider before creating a client technology project

When first thinking about deploying a client technology project, it can seem a little daunting considering commercial models, security, and even potential marketing. We asked our experts what those looking to offer external services should be thinking about:


1. Look beyond the complex

Not all external projects require complex services or transactions to be automated. Many in-house legal teams are battling with inefficient processes or inefficient use of their lawyers' limited time. Take time to discuss with the client what processes can be automated. It’s always a good idea to start mapping processes out, and then consider which are most suited to automate, and where your law firm’s expertise will really add value. Try to keep it simple, particularly for your first technology project with a client.


2. Pricing

It can be difficult for law firms to price for services that do not fit easily into a billable hour model (this section could be an article in itself!) The best way to price a service such as this is to have an honest discussion with clients as to their requirements, pain points and what value they would put on solving some of those problems. Look at market trends to get an idea of what others are offering in similar areas and gauge price points.


Another way of looking at pricing is to offset some/all of the costs the firm has incurred in creating the client project. This can be done by considering a set up fee for the creation of the site, an access charge (often per site or per document created), the cost of the automation and/or license costs. An ongoing fee is typical to cover the costs of maintaining and improving the service too.


3. Direct Client access?

Client projects are often thought about as extensions to the deal room concept, where clients directly access services from a law firm's tech stack.

Not all projects will need the client to directly interact with the system. We have seen many such projects that use client-specific templates and client data but are hosted internally and run by internal staff. This enables a law firm to compete using fixed prices and gives clients access to quality, trusted services in a cost-effective way.


Conversely to the "self-service" approach, internal-only access necessitates extra touch points with the client, since they will need a way to initiate a transaction. This aids close relationships and fosters opportunities for more collaborative projects.


Examples of projects where the client is not required to be given access:

  • Real estate transactions that require bulk creation of documents (e.g. lease documents for large retail areas). Many automation platforms now feature a downloadable spreadsheet that can be filled in by the customer and then uploaded to bulk generate documents from a bespoke client template.

  • Lower value transactions that can be standardised for a fixed fee. The transaction can be initiated the same as any other engagement and then the transaction is run at the law firm end, allowing the law firm to offer competitive pricing.


4. Security

Where services are designed for direct access by the client, it is important to consider the permissions and access rights of client users:

  • Permissions: Consider access permissions carefully to ensure the clients only have access to what they need and not to other areas of the platform. Follow the principle of least privilege.

  • Data protection: Consider the protection of client data both in transit (e.g. between web pages) and in a stored state. The level of protection required will vary depending on the sensitivity of the data. Many tools offer great features to handle this, make sure you check.

  • Due Diligence checks: Be prepared and allocate resource for completing due diligence checks required by the client's IT department. This will likely be a member of the IT team but will need someone from the business side to explain the data points and process.

  • Reassurance: If using tools already embedded by the law firm, it is likely they will have already passed a due diligence check and so many of these points can be addressed relatively easily with some level of confidence.

5. Be ready to change plans!

Once you’ve started discussions with your client about a project, it’s a great opportunity to collaborate. Be creative and don’t be afraid to pivot if things do not go the way you imagined. It’s unlikely that the first iteration of a platform will be perfect, and you may have to try out ideas that don’t quite pan out. Working as a team with your client gives you the chance to tailor the platform to their needs, and is likely to result in you creating a product that similar clients or teams within your law firm would benefit from.


It can seem like there are many things to consider when offering services to clients and some of these, such as security and pricing, will warrant careful thought and (most usefully) collaborative dialogue with your client. However, as with all legal technology endeavours, our recommendation at echo.legal is always to start as simply as possible and then add on complexity based around client feedback and usage. Phase as much of the project as possible, and keep in regular contact with your clients.



If you are a law firm looking to create and deploy technology projects for your clients based around the legal technology you use, contact one of the team at echo.legal for a discussion on how we work with our partners.


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