In this blog post, Aleks Tomczyk, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Exizent, aims to unveil what early stage and growing LegalTech firms want from customers.
As a growing LegalTech / FinTech business we are continually asking ourselves and our (happily ever-increasing number of) customers what they want from our platform now and in the future.
However, our Head of Technology and I recently ran a workshop on LegalTech and AI for a large UK law firm at their annual partners’ strategy conference. One of the exercises we ran was for the partners to consider LegalTech/AI opportunities from three positions:
- A law firm’s clients
- The firm itself
- The LegalTech providers they engage with
On the third of these, I was surprised that the main initial thing that came out was “profits”, although this did get more granular with discussion. Whilst ‘profits’ may well be the prime driver for the large long-established LegalTech firms with multiple products I don’t think this is the case for growing LegalTech firms (like us).
Reflecting on this I realised that I was being silly to be surprised – there is no particular reason why a hard-working partner in a law firm, primarily focused on delivering well for clients, would have much/any view on what a LegalTech firm wants – or why knowing these things might be useful to them.
I chatted this through with the chair of another large firm to validate it.
Read the full blog on Exizent’s website here.
So why is it useful for law firms to know what LegalTechs want?
Put simply it helps the probability of legal technology projects being successful, ie delivering the benefits envisaged, and therefore helps law firms and all their employees.
Understanding the drivers of LegalTech firms helps at all stages of a project from initial problem definition through market scanning, business case definition, procurement, trial/pilot, initial adoption (and integration if needed), roll-out, initial benefit realisation and continuous improvement. It also helps get over the common concern about being ‘sold to’ – by understanding that a good relationship should be win-win.
So, what do early stage and growing LegalTech firms want from customers?
This is just my view and it should not be assumed that the following list is in priority order, as priorities for each LegalTech firm will change based on product and business stage.
I should also caveat this for Exizent in that we are very driven by our Purpose, ‘to improve the experience of bereavement for everyone involved in the process’, so what we want at any given time will be subordinate to this Purpose. So here we go.
- Willingness to engage and try things. Early stage/growing LegalTech firms are generally doing something they think has value to the legal system by fixing a problem and not trying a ‘hard-sell’ something that they don’t think is needed. They are not scary, nor trying to sell snake oil, just passionate about what they are trying to do. They are generally friendly and open to listening. A willingness to engage plays to these things and increases understanding leading to a higher probability of tech adoption success.
- Openness and honesty about the law firm’s business, aims, challenges and opportunities. By being open it will be possible to establish quickly whether the product/service is likely to be of value as is, with additional features or not at all.
- A willingness to try the product. Assuming there is a likely benefit, whether on a free trial, paid pilot or over an extended period – for all work or a percentage of it whilst trying it.
- Feedback, feedback, feedback. On things that are not clear from training and knowledge bases. On things that work well and things that don’t. On things that are missing or could be added. Ideally prioritised (perhaps using MoSCoW). Modern cloud native software built with good tools can be iterated remarkably quickly so any feedback, anytime and preferably immediately is really valuable.
- This is essential as revenue is proof of product market fit. In an early stage /growing company all of this will likely be reinvested into product and growth anyway. Having revenue enables boot-strapped businesses to survive and investor-backed ones to attract further investment. Revenue is not the same as profits – it is unlikely that many early stage/growing businesses will be profitable at an entity level, potentially for quite a number of years. Paying a LegalTech provider something is also beneficial to law firms as it is well proven to increase internal engagement and increase the likelihood of successful adoption – not paying for something deceases its value.
- The ability to list the firm as a client, provide a testimonial or a case study and willingness to act as a reference site.
- Acceptance that things will not always be perfect and feedback on what needs to be improved (feedback again). LegalTech products should be good (stable, available, secure, accessible, have good UIs, etc.), but literally no software product is functionally perfect for the needs of every user. Think of Microsoft Teams – it was a useful tool before the pandemic, was massively improved during the pandemic and has had lots more updates since – but is it perfect? No. But does it add value and is it getting continually better? Yes. More niche and arguable more functionally complex LegalTech is the same.
- Long term commitment. Allied with feedback (again). This enables business to plan and prioritise additional features that bring greatest value to users.
If I had to pick only two things from the list I would say Feedback and Revenue.
LegalTech providers of course need to be able to receive and act on all of the above. At Exizent I know we do – led by our super Customer Success (service and support) and Product teams. If law firms come across potential LegalTech providers that don’t behave like this then I would suggest firms look elsewhere for providers. I would also suggest firms look elsewhere if they experience a ‘hard sell’, unreasonable commercials or are not comfortable with the feel of a relationship that ought to be mutually beneficial for a long time.
Our customers (whom internally we usually refer to as users) do most of these things which is great and something we want to build on and hope will continue forever.
I hope that those of you reading this take this in the spirit is intended – to aid mutual understanding between LegalTech firms and law firms both in my role at Exizent and in my role as Board Member for Lawscot Tech.
Speaking for Exizent we want to build good, long term mutually beneficial relationships with all our users. Hopefully, we convey this in all our interactions in the industry – if we don’t please give us that feedback!
Co-Founder and Managing Director at Exizent
Read the full blog on Exizent’s website here.
At Exizent, we will help you and your team to transform the way you deliver estate administration services and improve the bereavement experience for everyone involved.
This article was submitted to be published by Exizent as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills and Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills and Probate.