Legal industry collaboration platform Lupl announced its formal global launch today (2 November) and Legal IT Insider caught up with chief executive officer Jeff Green and chief commercial officer Matt Pollins to find out what that means for law firms and corporates.
The global release makes the platform available to the wider industry for the first time on a freemium model. Users from law firms and legal departments able to sign up through the newly launched website at www.lupl.com and iOS app.
Lupl, which was spun off as an independent company in 2019 after investment from CMS, Cooley and Rajah & Tann Asia, is a shared workspace that includes a native suite of communications, collaboration, document sharing, and legal project and knowledge management capabilities. It integrates with third-party tools, including Microsoft Teams, Slack, iManage, Net Documents, SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, Google Drive, Zoom, DocuSign, and Litera compareDocs.
It has been in early adopter mode since April, following the completion of a private beta test in 2020. Law firms, legal departments, and other legal organizations in around 30 countries are already on-board.
It’s great to see Lupl formally launch, is the market up to speed with what Lupl is and does?
Jeff Green (JG): It’s certainly a question that we get and one that we expect to get before the platform is widely available – and we pushed that button today. At a very high level, it’s a collaboration platform for the legal marketplace aimed at making it easier for folks to work together within and across organisations. It’s a shared workspace for lawyers to get their work done. At the 30,000 feet level that’s what it is, and then you come to the functionality.
Matt Pollins (MP): “We do think there is no better way to see what it does than to use it, and that’s why we’re launching a freemium version. You can launch it and start using in less than a minute, including creating matters and sharing documents.
If I am a typical law firm with all the ‘legal tech’ you’d expect and probably using Microsoft Teams, map out for me how I will begin using Lupl.
MP: It always starts with a problem to solve. Let’s say our firm has a problem with client collaboration. They have read about Lupl and they can go to the website and start using it for free or use one of our paid plans that come with additional integration and features. Let’s say I’m a partner with a new matter. I can go to the platform and create the matter and I have two options – one is to create the matter from a blank slate, or I can use a matter template from our library that has been specially built for the legal industry including templates from third parties such as LexisNexis, or I can build my own.
Say it’s an M&A matter. I select my firm’s M&A template and all the parts are pre-built: the tasks are baked-in in the way my firm wants to do it. I can invite the client and it becomes a platform for everyone. I can just invite you by email. Say you’re my client and I know your email; I send an invite and you’re into the matter. I can connect to my other systems, so imagine I am with iManage or NetDocuments, I select the matter workspace on those tools and that is where my documents will live. They will stay in my firm’s source of truth right there in the DMS. Let’s say my firm uses Microsoft Teams; I can work within Teams: we’re announcing a legal for Teams app today and you can access Lupl functionality right there in Teams.
One of the big concerns around Teams is provisioning, does the same apply within Lupl?
MP: No, you connect a Lupl matter with a workspace – say in iManage or NetDocuments or SharePoint – and the documents live there. They don’t live in Lupl and at the end of the matter, the documents get saved automatically into that space in your document management system. All the communication and status reports are living there in a matter-centric way in the DMS.
Does Lupl include chat functionality?
MP: Yes, we have native chat that’s encrypted and it also integrates with Slack and email, so you can bring those in as well.
There has been a huge flight to Teams during the pandemic, is that not likely to mean people don’t need Lupl in the same way?
MP: No, we’ve never looked at it as ‘Lupl or Teams’, or ‘Lupl or Slack’. Even pre-pandemic we were building an integration with Teams and we’ve worked hard on that. We add a value layer that includes:
- Legal project management – Lupl has the ability to manage court hearings; tasks; and budget tracking in a matter-centric way;
- Integrated knowledge – our templates are built for the legal sector; and
- The scope and breadth of our integrations.
I’m interested to learn more about the law firm templates, as law firms typically like to do things in their own way when it comes to task management?
MP: We have off the shelf templates from LexisNexis and CLOC, or firms can create templates themselves, which is one of our stickiest features: in a third of matters, firms are accessing templates for their matter. Where some legal project management has fallen down is that it’s too prescriptive, and if you’re telling lawyers that there is only one way you can do M&A, inevitably they don’t like that. The templates that we provide are a starting point but are light and flexible and can be adjusted in flight. Once I use that template, I’m not locked in and I can adjust it as I’m in flight.”
You’ve been working on the product for a long time, are there any changes, what are Lupl’s core features?
MP: There are three core features. There’s document collaboration: that’s the most obvious thing, and when you step back, lawyers spend a lot of time sharing and collaborating on documents. When you have people on different systems you find there are blocks on simple things such as sharing files. We have been surprised at how quickly there has been a flight to document collaboration in Lupl.
Then there is communication – we have been surprised at how quickly it has been adopted especially between different companies.
And then there are the matter templates, which we didn’t necessarily expect to be adopted so quickly, but a third of matters are started from templates.
How many firms are now using the platform?
JG: We have been really pleased before the global release with the take up – not just among the early adopter firms but others. Over the last 72 hours we have added over 100 new organisations across many different geographies.
We know that having a platform and using it aren’t the same thing, has adoption been good?
JG: We are pleased with adoption which, as you would expect, happens at different levels across different organisations. One thing that has been notable is that because of the way Lupl is designed and the ease of accessing it and setting up matters, one law firm in Asia reports that it’s the fastest adoption of legal tech they have ever seen. That’s a testament to the way we have designed it to remove as many hurdles as possible.
Security is always a big concern in collaboration sites, including ensuring that people can’t access more information than they are entitled to, how do you address that?
MP: We’ve had 18 months of feedback and a lot of that has been around security, including feedback from CISOs at major international law firms as well as their equivalent on the corporate side. We have been put through dozens of security checks from financial institutions and law firms and we’ve passed them. It’s taken a lot of time and investment but it’s table stakes for a platform like Lupl.
Have you or will you obtain security certifications?
MP: We already have The Cloud Security Alliance certificate and we’re in the process of obtaining SOC 2.
What do you think is the most important thing to note about your global release today?
JG: One of the things we think is unique about Lupl is our freemium offering. We think maybe it’s not unprecedented in legal tech but it’s certainly unusual, and thoroughly by design from our standpoint. We have a platform that we want to put in the hands of as many users as possible. It’s a single platform that’s easy to join and easy to invite others to and get going on. The fact its free aligns with our view of our mission in the legal space to create an open and connected world and remove hurdles and boundaries.
Will it stay freemium?
JG: Freemium forever! On our website there are different prices for different packages, but it will always be freemium by design.
And tell us about your partnership with Singapore’s Ministry of Law, which you have an update on.
MP: Our partnership with the Singapore Ministry of Law will start to take off from January. Lupl is going to power their legal technology initiative and they are using Lupl to help accelerate digital transformation. We’ve talked about bringing law firms and corporates into the equation, but this now also brings in the public sector.
Our thanks to Matt and Jeff for speaking with Legal IT Insider’s editor Caroline Hill about the launch. You may also want to read our earlier coverage, Lupl announces its global launch, see here for more: