We speak to Priori’s founders about how the new platform may at last democratise the selection of outside counsel.
In a move that may well help to democratise the selection of outside counsel, legal marketplace Priori today (18 November) unveiled a new outside counsel decision-making platform in partnership with Hearst, Marsh McLennan, Zimmer Biomet, an undisclosed Fortune 10 company, and Orrick, all of whom have joined Priori’s customer advisory board.
More than 30 law firms, including Orrick and 13 other Am Law 50 firms, have agreed to join the platform in collaboration with the Scout beta clients.
Scout creates a custom database and dashboards to enable legal departments to search for information on lawyers and law firm experience; diversity; relationship and pricing history; and reviews. It will assist teams to identify the right staffing for new projects and track outside attorney performance over time. It will, more controversially, also enable in-house teams to begin to unpick and delve into individual performances of lawyers in order to decide who to instruct or not to instruct.
Priori, which was founded by CEO Basha Rubin and chief product officer Mirra Levitt, has traditionally been a marketplace for in-house legal teams to find and hire outside counsel, and Scout leverages their experience and database. One of the things that persuaded the pair to take this step and take time away from their core offering is, Rubin says, that multiple fortune 50 companies and law firms have tried to build such an offering and failed. “It’s a real need that’s not being met,” Rubin told Legal IT Insider, adding: “We have the information so it’s much easier for us to build it.”
Scout is a way to understand your most trusted outside relations and Rubin said: “The question that in-house counsel ask themselves is ‘who do I really want to work with?’ and they don’t have a way to make that determination. They ask their buddy. They email some relationship partners and send out a ton of RFPs. But what they want is to be able to have that data at their fingertips.
“If they are looking for someone who is experienced in GDPR and bills at less than $500 an hour and has experience with this particular regulatory body, they can pull up a list of the firms they have worked with and know who those people are. They can dig into their past relationship history and see who they have worked with; who they haven’t; whether their colleagues have had a good or bad experience; and they can get in touch with them.”
The involvement of Priori’s partners has been critical in developing Scout and Levitt told Legal IT Insider: “Their involvement and commitment has been incredible. We’ve had weekly meetings on product design and development because this has to work for both sides of the ecosystem. Obviously our dataset isn’t perfect but this has been an iterative process and we have tried to optimise between what law firms can provide and what in-house teams need. It has been really helpful to have those conversations.”
In terms of the ramifications of the platform, Rubin says: “One of the most exciting ramifications is the possibility of democratising the selection of outside counsel using more of a transparent platform. It enables you to see a much broader range of data than you have ever had access to. It can really have a positive impact on diversity and mean that clients can make decisions based on comparable data points.”
All four beta partners are implementing the product and Priori has a long waiting list to onboard the first non-beta Scout customers in Q1 of 2022.