Catch up on all the latest news including:

  • Clio data suggests new legal matters down by over 30%
  • Hans Haglund joins Foundation Software Group as VP of business development
  • BLM announces new IT director
  • CTS appoints Ed Smyth as new COO and CFO
  • Quill expands its headcount by three
  • Tikit enters new partnership with viu
  • Maples Teesdale selects Ascertus for iManage cloud rollout
  • Juro launches must read ‘How to build a legal team’ eBook
  • CloudNine launches CloudNine Data Wrangler
  • Proact launch new service for managed Office 365 backup
  • Smart Time Automates Time Entry Submission with “Approver” Module

Clio data suggests new legal matters down by over 30%

Clio are releasing a series of briefings over the coming months to provide real-time analysis of the impacts of COVID-19. In the company’s first briefing, early analysis of aggregated and anonymized data from Clio’s legal practice management software shows that law firms are seeing a significant slowdown in business, as the number of legal matters opened each week has declined over 30% since the start of the year. Survey data also shows that 56% of law firms have seen a significant decrease in requests for legal assistance.

The data shows that one reason firms are seeing slowdown has to do with consumer attitudes toward legal problems. Almost half (49%) say that if they had a legal issue, they would very likely delay reaching out for legal help until after the coronavirus pandemic has subsided, while an additional 22% reported that they were under the impression that lawyers have ceased offering legal services completely.

“We’ve seen no indication that the need for legal services has subsided during the pandemic, but for many people, dealing with them right now isn’t top of mind,” said Jack Newton, CEO and Co-founder of Clio. “Law firms concerned about cash flow should be focused on understanding what barriers currently exist for clients, and be sure they are prepared to adapt their services to current and future needs of clients.”

The report also found that a minority (14%) of firms say they’ve seen an increase in business, and 13% of consumers say they expect to deal with a legal issue resulting specifically from the coronavirus pandemic.

Hires

BLM announces new IT director

Insurance risk and commercial law firm BLM has appointed Chris Jekiel as IT Director. Previously Director of IT at Horwich Farrelly, Jekiel has over 20 years’ experience in IT general management, having worked within legal, financial, banking and global corporate firms. He was recognised within the 2019 CIO 100 as one of the most transformational and disruptive CIOs in the UK.  

His appointment follows a period of sustained investment in BLM’s technology offering, particularly the development of BLM Innovations, which the firm announced in July 2019. 

Jekiel will oversee the firm’s investment and growth of its analytics offering, which is now led by the firm’s new head of analytics, David Elliott, who assumed the role this month. David joined the firm in 2017 as a data scientist.

Matthew Harrington, senior partner at BLM, said: “The legal sector has been undergoing rapid digitalisation in recent years, even prior to the circumstances we currently face. We have embraced these changes having introduced technology to assist case management and streamline processes in and outside the court system. The appointments of Chris and David have come at a great time of opportunity for the firm; their experience will be invaluable, with IT operations and innovation, now more than ever, vital to ensuring the smooth continuation of our services.”

 Jekiel commented: “It is a good time to be joining BLM at a time of monumental change in not only the legal sector, but for business as we currently know it. There’s a great team already in place at the firm, and I very much look forward to working with them on implementing a number of new strategies and strengthening our existing offering.

Hans Haglund joins Foundation Software Group as VP of business development

Hans Haglund has joined Foundation Software Group as VP of business development. As a C-level exec, Haglund has led multiple business development, marketing, sales, and pursuit teams at several top law firms, including Eversheds Sutherland, Blank Rome, Patton Boggs, and Paul Hastings. Haglund also co-founded Manzama (acquired by Diligent Software Group) to provide client intelligence to law and professional services firms. He is a member of several M&A and venture capital professional organizations, a board member of two emerging growth companies, and a partner in an early stage investment fund.

“Hans was one of the first to recognize the value of firm intelligence across Business Development and rainmaking partners at law firms,” noted Nate Fineberg, CEO and co-founder of Foundation Software Group. “We’re really excited that he’ll be able to share his approach with the growing Foundation community.”

“Everyone is trying to generate deal flow. Foundation supports those initiatives better than anyone other product in the marketplace. The ability to uncover and leverage previously hidden connections among buyers, sellers, contacts, and the work a firm has done is transformational,” said Haglund, “I’m fired up to be joining Foundation to help firms harness their intelligence around deals, litigation, and other matters to win and keep more business.”

CTS appoints Ed Smyth as new COO and CFO

CTS, the cloud provider to the legal sector, appointed Ed Symth to its Board of Directors as the company’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Finance Officer. 

Ed is responsible for ensuring CTS has operating capabilities in place to provide a world class service to its existing customers today, and to ensure that the business is scaling those capabilities ahead of their ambitious growth plans to enable their future customers to experience the same world class service immediately upon on-boarding

After training as a chartered accountant with PwC, Ed spent twenty years in key roles within senior management teams of high quality, high growth, highly regulated entrepreneur led/private equity backed businesses. Ed joined CTS in 2020 after helping lead a second successful shareholder transition with KKR backed LGC Science Group.

Nigel Wright, CEO of CTS, says, “We are delighted that Ed will be joining the business at this exciting time. Ed’s experience and enthusiasm will help drive our plan to scale the business while continuing to deliver a world class service to to our clients. Firms are facing unprecedented challenges and business models will undoubtedly change. We feel we are uniquely positioned to help firms transition to maximise the benefits of agile working and Ed will take a central role in helping our clients maximise these new world opportunities.”

Quill expands its headcount by three

Quill has grown its headcount by three employees in the past month. In March, Quill welcomed Harry McHarry (Product Development Director), Pete Richards (Development Team Manager) and Robert Graham (Lead UI Developer) into its development team, primarily based in Brighton.

The new recruits are instrumental in its long-term commitment to software development. Despite the COVID-19 crisis, Quill says it is dedicated to keeping the momentum going by continually enhancing its software and service portfolio.

Supplementary to these appointments, Quill has promoted Kim Whitley from Legal Cashier to Client Account Manager within its sales team.

Julian Bryan, Managing Director, said: “Whilst recognising the challenges faced by every business during the coronavirus pandemic, at Quill we’re doing our utmost to maintain business as usual wherever possible. Of course, our entire staff is now remote working and we’ve introduced steps to safeguard their health and wellbeing, but one thing remains constant and that’s our absolute focus on clients’ needs.

“For this reason, we’ve undertaken these key hires and promotion. We’re delighted to have Harry, Pete and Robert on board and wish Kim the best of luck in her promoted position. Quill’s workforce is all the better for it.

In other news Quill’s pinpoint technical lead Karen Heggie has been awarded the Peter Dye Memorial Shield – an award introduced two years ago in memory of Quill’s former director and given to employees demonstrating exceptional performance.

Wins and deals

Tikit enters new partnership with viu

Tikit has announces a new partnership with client engagement platform provider, viu, to offer improved client relations to law and accountancy firms.

viu facilitates client engagement by capturing client sentiment through feedback at key points of interaction, specifically focusing on what the client wants to say, rather than what the firm wants to hear. Feedback is delivered directly to those most involved in the transaction to allow action to be taken by those most appropriate to do so. During the process metrics are calculated and stored giving insight into variations in client experience delivered by different areas of the firm and allowing the client journey to be fully understood.

Now more than ever, a firm’s relationship with its clients’ needs to be strengthened and developed. One of the most effective ways to do this is to ask the client about their experience and, if there were negative aspects to it, deal with it in a way that enhances the relationship. viu targets this issue precisely and automatically. 

Tikit have used the viu platform since 2014 to engage with clients based on feedback through our support system. Last year, viu usage was extended to include Tikit’s professional services teams.

Simon Elven, Commercial and Marketing Director at Tikit states, “The viu platform will form a key component of our Marketing and BD ecosystem. It gives firms the ability to better understand their client’s experience and to identify those clients who are risk of going elsewhere as well as those who are likely referrers or case studies. More importantly though, it provides individuals within firm the ability to further develop their relationship through a proactive response to feedback. We think this is a must have ability for firms of all sizes.”

Mario Dolcezza, CEO of viu commented “I’m absolutely delighted that after many years of R&D working towards this point that we’re able to formally announce our partnership. We have a great working relationship with Tikit underpinned by their forward thinking and innovative approach, the benefits of which we are excited to share with the legal community to see how positively this will impact their client relationships”. 

Maples Teesdale selects Ascertus for iManage cloud rollout

Maples Teesdale, the UK’s leading commercial real estate specialist, property legal services provider, has chosen Ascertus Limited to help the firm implement document and email management system, iManage Cloud. This implementation is in keeping with Maples Teesdale’s IT strategy of adopting cloud technology where suitable for new software applications to ensure the highest levels of security, future proof their IT infrastructure and minimise infrastructure maintenance. Ascertus provides tailored information and document lifecycle management solutions, on-premises and in the cloud, to law firms and corporate legal departments across the UK and Europe.

During the current COVID-19 lockdown, Ascertus is starting to deliver this project to Maples Teesdale entirely remotely, without on-site visits or face-to-face meetings.

iManage Cloud will be available to 90 users in the firm. Maples Teesdale will embed advanced functionality and best practice for document management in the firm. Immediately on deployment, users will greatly benefit from email management functionality, an important capability that is lacking in Maples Teesdale’s current solution. The firm will also always be on the latest version of iManage Cloud. This means that the continuously enhanced user productivity via new features and functions will routinely translate into an enriched customer experience for clients.

“While presently, our IT infrastructure is a mix of on-premises and cloud solutions, we see cloud computing as our future,” Jon Berry, IT Manager, Maples Teesdale, said. “With remote and mobile working potentially becoming more commonplace in times to come, our investment in cloud technology will facilitate continuous improvement in the way we deliver service.”

Launches

Juro launches must read ‘How to build a legal team’ eBook

Juro has launched an eBook to help lawyers build a legal team at fast growth scaleup companies.

Announcing the book on LinkedIn, director of content Tom Bangay says: “If you are at all interested in how Monzo controls legal risk & process while adding dozens of employees every month, or how Liberis prepped to enter all 50 US states overnight, or how GoCardless built a deep bench of #legal and compliance talent, or any of the other challenges unique to scaleups, then hit the link in the comments and find out how these unicorn GCs do what they do so well.”

CEO Richard Mabey adds: “Being the first lawyer in a business is never an easy task. Especially when you’re joining a high-growth tech company. With fires raging all over the place it takes a very particular mindset to keep calm and be strategic. We asked the people who built legal functions at Intercom, Monzo Bank, Babylon Health, Snyk, Shieldpay, GoCardless, Appear Here, Onfido and Liberis how they did it.”

The eBook describes everything from the first 90 days to first funding round to legal technology and entering new markets.

Isabel Parker, chief innovation officer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer said: “It’s great – I recommend everyone to download and read.”

Training

F-Lex and ThoughtRiver team up to provide online training

The next generation of lawyers, which has seen careers and training disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, is now being offered professional training through a series of virtual webinars, thanks to a new partnership between automated contract review leader ThoughtRiver, and paralegal platform F-Lex.

The training, which takes the form of instruction in the use of ‘Lexible’, the legal AI software which underpins ThoughtRiver’s platform, is being offered to members of the F-Lex network who have seen professional opportunities dry up in the face of the current pandemic’s effect on the legal industry. Many law firms are seeking to furlough staff or place them on reduced hours, and this disproportionately affects non-permanent members of staff such as paralegals. Training courses for students have been similarly disrupted, and the professional experience opportunities traditionally on offer are removed as firms shut their physical doors.

In a spot survey of 50 course attendees, ThoughtRiver found that 100% of trainee lawyers had experienced at least one of the following: furloughing; seeing a job offer retracted; loss of academic hours; or foreseeing ‘no vacancies’ in the job market. However, with signs emerging that the UK government is putting plans in place to begin lifting working restrictions, both groups are keen to ensure they are able to ‘hit the ground running’ in the coming weeks and months.

Three in four trainees felt they had been treated well by employers or educators during the pandemic. Employers fared slightly worse in perceptions than education providers; 24% felt poorly supported by a company compared to 21% by an educational establishment.

Product launches

CloudNine launches CloudNine Data Wrangler

eDiscovery technology company CloudNine has launched CloudNine Data Wrangler™ (“Data Wrangler”), a new software solution to inventory and prioritize collected data for enhanced processing decisions and throughput. Data Wrangler is a small footprint, on-premise application revealing detailed, actionable insight on PSTs, forensic images, directories, filetypes and data sizes. The software promises to shorten project delivery time by reducing and prioritizing data transferred to processing engines and review platforms.

To prevent workflow interruption and expedite processing, Data Wrangler will quickly detect and automate the repair of corrupt containers, split large PSTs into smaller, manageable sizes and create new PSTs without Microsoft® Outlook dependencies.  

CloudNine customer, Robert Conley, VP Forensics and Strategic Operations with Rational Enterprise said, “The Rational eDiscovery team has had the privilege of previewing the Data Wrangler application and we look forward to using it to enhance our service. With a fast and complete inventory of collected data, we will be able to quickly promote the most time sensitive mailboxes and folders to processing and review. We have already identified a set of projects and clients who will benefit by adding Data Wrangler to the Rational eDiscovery workflow.” 

 Proact launch new service for managed Office 365 backup

To help organisations secure and protect their important business data, Proact, Europe’s leading independent data centre and cloud services provider, has launched BaaS-O365 – a new backup and recovery service for customers using Microsoft Office 365.

BaaS-O365 is a new managed service from Proact that provides complete backup and recovery for Office 365 Business/Enterprise data, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. It´s a tried-and-tested, standardised version of an already-successful service.

Office 365 is used by over a million organisations worldwide, with adoption set to increase, especially with the rise in remote working. With Proact’s managed Office 365 service, customers can ensure that critical business data stored within Office 365 is backed up in a compliant manner, to one of Proact’s ISO 27001-certified data centres. Backups are automated, monitored and managed round-the-clock, all but eliminating any risks from human error, and leaving enterprise IT teams free to concentrate on more value-driven tasks.

In the case of a service disruption or accidental deletion, customers can restore individual items, such as emails, OneDrive files and folders, or objects taken from any previous backup. BaaS-O365 also retains file versions, ensuring even changes made during a given day are available for restore.

“The Office 365 application will of course already provide built-in data protection. However, this may not be enough to meet the needs of all organisations, their customers and specific regulation such as GDPR. An administrator would be required to set the correct retention policies, so it’s susceptible to human error. Also backing up externally would be better practice, to ensure that all your data is not held with one provider”, says Per Sedihn, CTO and Acting VP, Portfolio & Technology at Proact IT Group AB.

Smart Time Automates Time Entry Submission with “Approver” Module

Smart Time Apps has released of a new specialized module for accounting and consulting firms to accelerate the time entry review and approval process to “finally make the on-time submission of finalized timesheets a reality.”

The new ‘Approver’ module automates the submission of released time entries to significantly speed and ease the entire timesheet review, revision, and approval process. As a result, accounting and consulting firms everywhere can finally accomplish a major, long-sought goal – the efficient and timely submission of finalized timesheets.

“The number of hours managers waste tracking down unreleased time entries and following up on entries that need revised is phenomenal. And the resulting time delays kill your billing efficiency,” says Todd Gerstein, CEO and cofounder of Smart Time Apps. “Approver eliminates the waste and struggle. Billable hours stream smoothly into your billing system so you can get bills out faster and get paid sooner.”