Perkins Coie’s director of client innovation, Amy Monaghan, has joined Infodash as VP of client success and product innovation. We asked her what her new role entails; what Infodash does; whether she had to think hard about moving from a law firm to a vendor for the first time; and what her career highlights are to date.
Infodash is a fast-growing Microsoft SharePoint and Teams intranet/extranet provider, which announced on 15 August last year that it has closed a $2.5m seed funding round.
So, Amy, what’s your new role at Infodash and what will it entail?
My official title is vice president of client success and product innovation. So, multiple jobs, which is not uncommon at a startup, and I’m used to wearing multiple hats, so this is right up my alley.
My biggest priorities are to build up the client success function, so building out processes, programmes, policies, procedures, collateral – all the things that our clients need to be successful in implementing Infodash and being their own internal champions at their organisation. That’s about sitting down with our customers and learning from them what they need. That will really help the product innovation side of my role.
It was really important when we were crafting the role that it incorporated both client success and product innovation, because those two things are critical: we need to build out our products that our clients are going to use and the only way that we’re going to be able to do that is to have a constant dialogue with our clients. So, the client success function will also feed into the product innovation function so that we can further innovate to meet our clients current, near future, and future needs.
How do you know Infodash and what do they do?
I am friends with a former member of their board, and we were catching up for coffee at ILTACON last year and I was chatting about my journey at Perkins Coie. We’ve done a lot with building our own products, including highly customising and configuring third party products, and stitching them together to build client and practice facing solutions.
I’ve learned through this work that I really like product – I’m a product girl! We were talking about the future and what I might be able to do with this kind of unique skill set and experiences that I’ve developed, and he said ‘I think you should meet the Infodash guys, they have a really good product and they need someone like you with your background and perspective, and a deep understanding of what law firms need.’ We set up a call and I got a quick demo of the platform. My immediate reaction was, ‘That’s it. That’s the platform that I as an innovation leader in law firms have been looking for.’
It’s a comprehensive platform. They brand themselves right now as an internet and extranet provider and there’s some market education opportunity there to start talking about the fact that those are actually the same things. Unified collaboration platform is probably what we’ll end up terming this. But intranets and extranets are pretty fundamentally undervalued and ignored in the legal tech market; almost every law firm you know that has more than 50 attorneys has an internet. Maybe an extranet. But they serve as a really critical data and information sharing foundation in firms and corporate organisations and so it’s kind of surprising that more attention isn’t given to them, especially now with all things data and all things gen AI, because you’ve got a really valuable data piece sitting right in front of you.
Infodash really does provide an all-in-one experience for unified collaboration and information sharing through their core product, but they also have really robust API capabilities. So that allows you to integrate data from many, many sources; they have some built-in integrations; and then they also have capabilities to integrate with other data sources as well.
Did you have to think hard about moving from a law firm to vendor role?
I have some friends in the legal tech vendor space and having seen their journeys, it wasn’t a huge hill for my mind to get over. Also, at Perkins we were building client facing solutions for a long time and building up our own product capabilities. We had our own support models. We had our own product strategies. We had our own product development teams. So we had mini product shops in the law firm and I know it’s not an analogous comparison, but I think I had enough of a taste of what that could look like building products in a law firm to be comfortable with the idea of going on the vendor side. My friends are going to be my customers now, so that’s just the icing on the cake.
To date, what would you say your career highlights are?
I won ILTA’s Young Professional of the Year two years in a row, which was awesome and that’s a highlight because I love ILTA and I volunteer for ILTA.
ILTA is actually how I got into this type of role. Right out of law school, I went to an arts not-for-profit in Chicago, and I was the only attorney on staff. My primary job was fundraising, and it was extra that I happened to be an attorney. I did a little bit of legal work for them, but that’s where I taught myself how to clean data and how to build relational databases, because I had to maintain this donor database that had not been tended to in decades. I had no good actionable data about where we were getting our funding from, so I had to fix that. I learned how to build really awesome, insightful financial reports that I could present to the board, and then on the legal side of things, I was drafting and executing and negotiating contracts all by myself, so I was building my own clause banks using Excel, and I was automating my documents using mail merge. I was doing a lot of research about how I could leverage machines to do my legal work better. And that’s how I came across ILTA. I would sit down on ILTA webinars about contract and document automation and eDiscovery, because I was interested in how machines can help me review contracts. And that was really the beginning. I came across the ILTA job bank and that’s when Chapman and Cutler was building up their knowledge management and innovation team.
Another career high was winning ILTA’s Transformative Project of the Year – we built our own proprietary matter intake and reporting tool at Perkins that is still used to this day. I built the first prototype and the second or third versions using third party products on the back end, before our internal software developers built a custom product.
The last very recent career highlight was working with Perkin’s leadership team last year on the new strategic plan. It was awesome being able to provide input and do workshops to get people collaborating and thinking about what the new firm strategic plan should be. Not a lot of innovation leaders get that type of opportunity. So that was a that was a good one and kudos to the Perkins leadership for including me in that.