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1.5.21: Council of Luminaries CLIENT-SIDE

The LVN Council of Luminaries is comprised of veteran thought leaders and pioneers in the business of law community. The objective behind assembling this group is to establish a brain trust of recognized, experienced and progressive leaders who can help interpret developments in the market, provide advice on how to successfully approach and navigate challenges, predict future trends and changes to prepare for, and to participate in targeted special projects to benefit the legal industry as a whole.

The below meeting was conducted primarily with the Council Of Luminaries CLIENT-SIDE group.

This week’s Luminaries’ Call centered around a long discussion about “Enterprise Legal Management” (ELM) tools and companies.

Luminary 1 – I’m trying to figure out what should be in an ELM solution? What should be included?

Here’s a list of possibilities:

1. Ebilling/matter management

2. Contract management

3. Document management

4. IP management

5. Litigation Management including eDiscovery and legal holds

6. Information Governance

7. Corporate Secretary

8. Workflow solutions i.e. Onit

9. Governance risk & compliance (GCR)

Luminary 2 – What even is “ELM”

Luminary 1 – It means “Enterprise Risk Management”

Luminary 2 – I didn’t realize it can be generic. I thought it was Wolters Kluwer’s toolset.

Luminary 3 – It’s both. Some people started using it as a term right around the time WK bought Datacert and formed their “ELM” business. They’ve never really made it clear whether they think ELM is their brand or not.

Luminary 4 – ELM is all the tools you’d need to run a law department. The backbone is e-billing and matter management. But there’s a lot more that could be included

Legaltech companies have started coining these terms. But we need to integrate with things out of the box. How to integrate with tools lawyers are already using? Also, many tools do not do what they say.

A lot of vendors are pushing it as a sales thing – many of the smaller legal depts with Legal Tracker (fka) Serengeti, for example, see one system, but these tools should be set up and built in a way that gives clients flexibility. We use Legal Tracker, just because we have a long relationship. We do need to be able to mix and match, but most providers are not thinking that way.

Luminary 1 – Do you use the term ELM within your corporate law department?

Luminary 4 – Not really, we have a big legal tech team, we build custom tools too. What I’ve been pushing is that we should look at what we’re building in terms of an ELM platform. We started to build custom tools in part because we feel that third party tools are fractured. Now I worry we’ve replicated the problem.

Luminary 5 – I’m hung up on how bad of a term “ELM” is. “E” usually means electronic. “L” usually means lifecycle

Luminary 4 – maybe it should be “LLM?”

Luminary 6 – WK saw there was a pie, and they had pieces, and they thought, “what if we had the whole pie?” There are a lot of synergies there. It does make sense to go with a single provider. But sometimes you have stakeholders who fall in love with certain products. So we have different providers for what would be in the overall list of things that would be part of ELM.

Luminary 3 – Does a single platform make more sense in smaller law departments?

Luminary 6 – I’d say so. If you have a small legal ops team, you don’t have the bandwidth to work with a bunch of different providers. So the ELM/platform model is better for small and mid-sized departments.

Luminary 4 – Much of this is the result of mergers. Some of the branding is so bad. Everyone still calls it Serengeti. Legal Tracker doesn’t really mean anything to anyone

Luminary 2 – The ones that these companies started with are often the best. The acquired tools don’t often work.

Luminary 5 - When they acquire, the flagship is usually the thing that works. But because they’ve made commitments, they don’t want to do R&D on the original product. So they shift focus to the new stuff.

Luminary 4 – Also their sales efforts are focused on the new shiny thing.

Luminary 6 – Who has experience on Client Advisory Boards (aka CABs). Mine’s been pretty poor. Sometimes providers have these CABs, but they don’t implement the suggestions – or once you get off their "out of the box" solutions, it’s hard to upgrade.

Luminary 2 – I always thought they were more for sales and marketing

Luminary 4 – They are also an intelligence forum. To see what companies are doing in Legal Ops. I’m on one now – it’s not that useful. They give us a few weeks advance knowledge of new products or features.

Luminary 5 – The only value we’ve ever found is when we have a 1:1 relationship. Sellers call the list of things we need an “enhancement list” but I call it a “gap list” We insist on monthly “gap list meetings.” We track the status of everything we’ve ever requested. And we measure them on whether they deliver. We want to know if they are solving the problems.

Luminary 6 – Have 1:1s helped with the progress?

Luminary 5 - Yes

Luminary 6 – Have you ever left because they are not hitting priority targets.

Luminary 5 – It’s part of the story, but it would never be the primary reason to leave. I use it more as a carrot than a stick. To give them a roadmap.

Luminary 4 – We do it to hold their feet to the fire, but we don’t want to project manage them on the things we need. I use the CAB to send very focused messages about what we need. But still not too much comes out of it.

Luminary 5 – I feel like a suffragette because I spend my time agitating and getting others to care about things they wouldn’t have otherwise cared about.

Luminary 4- A lot of people are just happy with what they get.

Luminary 5 – Most people do not think about the original product set – they think about improving. A standard suite of solutions would be great.

Luminary 4 - I didn’t love the decentralized legal tech market, but I’m not sure I love it now that it’s been consolidated either.

Luminary 3 – What about user conferences?

Luminary 5 – I’ve been, not a lot of value. But I’m a grumpy Gus. I’ve arrogantly come to the conclusion it’s about who I see in the hallway – not who is on the stage. The level of most presentations is that they are useless. Panels are not really that helpful. So the element is in the sidebar. But that’s nearly impossible in a virtual environment. But moving forward is it worth the effort?

Luminary 6 – Those conferences could do better. It’s tough because there are users and superusers. When you have a session, you have to design it to resonate with anyone. They need to better at segmenting their user base to make them somewhat more valuable. You rarely learn something from someone on stage. You gain value in the hallway. They try to make it too generic – one size fits all.

Luminary 4 – I think the same applies to many conferences. But user conferences are not useful. We often know more about the tools than they do. But early in my career, they were unbelievably helpful. There have been a few gems. Like Susan Hackett speaking in 2008, which changed my thinking about how we do things and manage things. And I saw Kevin Clem at a Serengeti thing and he was great. I met Vince Cordo in a hallway and learned a lot.

Luminary 2 – To what extent do contract management systems need to be connected with e-billing and revenue systems? Is it really that important to connect these systems? That’s where we should start on the next call.

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