I recently participated in my first podcast on the BA Insight Shared Insights show. I discussed the ‘Evolution of Legal Technology’, where I shared my firsthand observations of how law firms have managed to keep up with the explosion of legal technology solutions over the past 20 years – all aimed at helping today’s lawyers become more efficient, profitable and ultimately help their clients succeed.
As an FYI, the podcast is also available on iTunes, but let me assure you that my three daughters still don’t think I’m the least bit cool. Maybe it’s because they didn’t realize how cool I was before they were born.
I got my start in the legal industry in 1996 working with LexisNexis. I was a year out of college and only owned two suits (dark grey and navy) BUT I was advising some of the top Rainmakers in some of the largest global law firms on how to succeed in a competitive and changing landscape. At the time, a good number of lawyers and paralegals were still conducting research in their firm’s libraries (a status symbol for the rich history and success of the firm, the larger the library, the more prestigious the firm). It was time consuming to say the least, let alone lacked access to the vast amounts of ever changing case law, statutes and secondary sources. Many times each practice area or office operated in silos, the vast amounts of knowledge and expertise residing with a select group of legal professionals within the firm. The lack of access to this knowledge and information caused delays, was extremely expensive, and risked missing essential insights. LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters and other players permanently changed that landscape, and it’s difficult to imagine the life of an attorney prior to CALR (Computer Assisted Legal Research) and other legal specific software solutions, but this presented a new set of challenges as the industry went through dramatic changes over the next two decades.
As we fast forward to modern times, (one daughter a freshman in college, one a high school sophomore and a third grader), legal professionals today work inside as many as six to eight different enterprise systems in a typical day. Document Management Systems, Time & Billing, CRM, Case Management Tools, e-Discovery Systems, Email and more are necessary tools to practice law today. Attorneys are trying to manage it, but it can be overwhelming and it’s a highly inefficient use of their time…and in a law firm…TIME IS MONEY. This isn’t a new problem. For years, firms had looked for the best tools to use for a ‘Unified Information Access Platform’ to make their worlds easier. There were some early attempts at solving this, such as the Plumtree Portal and others, but it was costly and required a tremendous amount of IT development and support. Not surprisingly, Microsoft emerged as the leader over the past 10 or so years to help solve this problem. SharePoint became the collaboration and portal solution of choice in the legal industry with over 90% of the largest firms utilizing SharePoint as their intranet tool of choice.
So, where does BA Insight come into the picture and how can you help solve this problem? SharePoint is a great tool, but let’s be honest, it lacks some key capabilities needed inside today’s largest firms. That’s where we come in – BA Insight takes SharePoint OOTB and pushes and enhances its capabilities, continually innovating our offerings to create an efficient and easy to use powerful search tool. We help not only legal firms, but also commercial customers across all industries implement intranets that have awesome search capabilities, making information and expertise much easier to find. My colleague Dennis Hiel provides a few examples of recent customer deployments in his latest blog.
In my experience, the greatest advantage is using SharePoint to create a familiar and easy to use internet-like experience of users’ favorite websites that have set the bar, such as Trip Advisor, or my sophomore’s favorite site, Amazon. Taking a consumer approach to find the right pair of running shoes, or for the attorney’s purpose, the right information at the right time – “less time searching, more time lawyering”.
If you think about it, nobody had to teach you how to use Amazon or EBay. I had a KM Director tell me recently the number one question from every intranet focus group meeting was “Why can’t you just make this like Google!?” That’s precisely what we are doing!!!
First and foremost, BA Insight provides ‘Connectivity’ to those critically important enterprise systems. We provide secure, high performance crawling and indexing to a wide variety of enterprise systems (over 90 system connectors at last count and growing). For law firms, we have connectors for a majority of enterprise systems: iManage, NetDocs, Elite, Aderant, SQL databases and other collaboration tools such as Confluence, Yammer and more. BA Insight provides a ‘single search’ interface bringing in content from all of those disparate content sources and then greatly enhances the user experience by incorporating those features mentioned above into an easy-to-use, familiar and enhanced search experience which include mega menus, personalization, type-ahead, search and refine, document previews and comparison capabilities, all of which are intuitive and require minimal to no training.
BA Insight could stop there and have wonderfully successful solutions for our customers to make their lives easier and more successful, but our reinvestment in R&D and our expertise across many industries allow us to innovate and are leading the way with next-generation law firm portals which have already helped our nearly 3 million users worldwide.
We Call it ‘The Intelligent Intranet’ and It is Truly a Game Changer for Law Firms Today
The ‘Intelligent Intranet’ is PROACTIVE, INTERACTIVE and CONNECTED. It delivers personalized, self-organized content- the critical tools needed to take action while connected to all the relevant information systems, regardless of where it resides. It suggests content and is able to run in your pocket or device used every day! (We recently recorded a video to capture different perspectives of the ‘intelligent intranet’ that you can watch here).
BA Insight is leading the way with the consumerization of legal technology, and I’m confident user-adoption is rapidly becoming less of a concern as I receive a message on my phone from my third grader. She’s informed me that she noticed her sister’s running shoes in my Amazon shopping cart and wanted to let me know that she’s also placed items, politely asking if I will place the order. She goes on to inform me that she’s read the ratings, compared products and priced the items to maximize my cost savings…oh and if I order them today I can avoid shipping costs.
In closing she adds, “if you let me get them you would be the coolest Daddy in the world.”