While running your own law firm has many benefits, one not so fun aspect is the reporting burden often placed on firms by their larger corporate clients.
With the quick advancements in technology, there are now many technology systems available for law firms’ billing, admin and other processing. But they can be confusing for both clients and lawyers alike – and you didn’t spend five, gruelling years studying law to become a software engineer.
A cloud-based legal operations platform, LawVu, is revolutionising the way corporate legal teams manage their operations, and engage and collaborate with law firms.
“Our vision is to build a platform that connects the people working on legal problems directly with the best solution to help them deliver better outcomes, whether its people, process or technology,” says Sam Kidd, one of LawVu’s founders.
The two other founders are Tim Boyne and Shaun Plant.
Mr Kidd was involved with a SaaS project management company Teamwork, based out of Ireland, before moving back to New Zealand and co-founding LawVu.
Tim Boyne was an IT and operations director who worked with several law firms, most notably, Sharp Tudhope Lawyers in Tauranga.
Shaun Plant was an engineer who retrained as a lawyer and applied his project management background to the practice of law in law firms and as head of legal services for the Waikato Regional Council.
Sam Kidd fielded some questions about the platform.
What is LawVu?
“We all come from strong project management backgrounds, and initially, we attempted to take the key elements of what we knew about legal project management, productise it, and give it to the client side of the market as a way of empowering them when they sent instructions. We wanted to ‘automate’ the structured dialogue – that should have been taking place but wasn’t – throughout the course of a transaction.
However, we quickly discovered that the legal industry had little appetite for retraining as project managers because planning is often perceived as non-chargeable work. From a product management perspective, we were a solution seeking a problem like so much of the legal tech industry to date.”
In what way is LawVu different to other companies?
"Legal teams around the world are being asked to deliver 'more for less' but there are a daunting number of areas to address when transforming a legal department, and often it requires a cross-functional effort from legal, IT, finance and management to create a cohesive framework.
What separates us is that we bring all of the technology components in a legal operations stack into one software package, and integrate with best of breed ‘point solutions’ to offer legal departments a complete offering that removes much of the effort required to establish a legal operations function.
We also place a huge emphasis on improving the way corporate legal departments engage with their trusted law firm partners.
Our ‘service provider’ portal allows firms to work directly on legal matters with their clients, and our invoicing module takes all the effort out of end-of-month reporting for law firms.”
How secure is the software?
“We’ve rebuilt LawVu twice because we weren’t completely satisfied with the core infrastructure.
The security side of the operation is something we take very seriously and to that end we’ve engaged a third party security advisory firm which works with our own in-house security team to continually audit our processes and infrastructure.
We also have a schedule for testing the platform and have engaged a Crest certified security testing company that performs penetration tests on our system.
Data security is at the forefront of everything we do. The battle between the security of having data in the cloud vs on-premise is over for most organisations. The cloud wins hands down because of the robustness of the infrastructure offered by the likes of Microsoft Azure where we host LawVu.
The Panama Papers fiasco occurred because of poor standards upheld by the IT directors at the law firm where terabytes of sensitive client information were stored behind an unlocked door. Frighteningly, that’s not a unique situation.”
What does LawVu offer?
“It [the workflow process] all starts at the interface with internal in-house clients.”
We have contract automation tools that let clients draft their own contracts and intake forms that streamline requests for advice or more complex contracts.
These requests are triaged in our matter management interface, which is the heart of LawVu. This is the tool teams use to stay on top of their workloads, share documents and collaborate. Typically, 70% of issues are handled internally, but for the 30% that are briefed out, we have an engagement process that streamlines the distribution of work to their preferred providers.
Our simple workflow helps both sides agree on a scope of work, set expectations and communicate easily during a matter. All invoices are then uploaded to LawVu which creates data that feeds our spend management tools.
We store contracts in a central repository and track their lifecycle while ensuring expiry dates don’t go unnoticed.
Our system helps organisations collect a lot of important business information which is generating data that populates the reporting suite and provides our users with insights they haven’t previously had to hand.”
LawVu has received support from within New Zealand and is growing in capacity.
“We’re heartened by the enthusiastic response to LawVu and the fact that we’re a Kiwi company looking to take on the world and transform the legal tech industry,” adds Mr Kidd.