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Anthony Millin Authors Article for Bloomberg Law Journal on NEXT’s Client-Centric, Tech-Enabled Approach

Anthony Millin

NEXT Chair

September 2, 2020 | Legal, NEXT

Reproduced with permission. Published Sept. 2, 2020. Copyright 2020 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. 800-372-1033. For further use, please visit http://www.bna.com/copyright-permission-request/.

A law firm’s use of new technology can lower the firm’s legal costs and improve how it serves its clients. Shulman Rogers attorney Anthony Millin walks through his firm’s decision to adopt a new tech platform to significantly change its approach to securing new clients and keeping them.

Professional services organizations ranging from law firms to financial advisory, consulting and accounting firms have had to make significant changes to their approach to onboarding new clients and delivering services.

Some markets were already moving in this direction before the pandemic, making the transition to a completely online world a bit easier. The legal market, however, has traditionally been more conservative than others in adopting new technologies and moving their operations online.

Benefit for Startups, Early Stage Growth Companies

For decades, the business model in legal services has been firmly established around the billable hour, putting quality legal services out of the reach of many startup companies, and often resulting in startups not seeking sophisticated legal counsel at a time they need it the most. Shulman Rogers, an innovative law firm of nearly 100 attorneys located in the D.C. metro area with a regional and national practice, is bucking this historical trend among law firms.

Shulman Rogers recognized the importance of new technologies and business models to driving growth, efficiency, collaboration, transparency and predictability in the delivery of legal services for the startup and emerging growth company segment of the market. To address this market need, the firm developed and successfully launched a platform internal to Shulman Rogers called NEXT.

While planning the launch, the firm realized that tech would be a central component and enabler in reaching the level of customer experience the firm was working to achieve. The NEXT platform is a disruptive new model for the delivery of legal services for the full life-cycle of startup and emerging growth companies. It leverages a range of cloud-based technologies and new business models and has developed for market a broad range of legal services for startup companies to access predictable legal fees through more than 75 fixed-price packages and service bundles.

Clients receive legal guidance and services through a high-touch, hands-on legal team comprised of senior Shulman Rogers’ attorneys. NEXT integrates NASDAQ Boardvantage, CARTA, Zoom, uShare.to, and other best-of-breed cloud-based platforms with new business processes for packaging, pricing, delivering and servicing clients to create a unique and powerful client-centric experience.

Pulling It All Together

To tie it all together and sit at the heart of the customer experience, NEXT needed a robust, simple to use and highly engaging online communication portal that could bring the client and designated legal team together, where the entire client journey can be efficiently, transparently and collaboratively managed. Thus:

  • Zoom is used for all remote meetings,
  • NASDAQ Boardvantage is used for corporate governance,
  • CARTA for cap table management,
  • Hubspot as the CRM,
  • Monday.com for legal project management, and
  • uShare.to as the online communication portal that brings the client and legal team together.

How It Works

With a simple invitation, every new client is onboarded online and added to a secure and persistent workspace where the client and their legal team can communicate through chat, audio/video conferencing, and screen sharing in real-time.

Our attorneys and clients simply connect remotely, through our range of cloud-based technology platforms even while working from home. Clients can interact with us through video conference, ask their questions via chat on an ongoing basis, share new legal task requests, and our professionals can jump in to respond in real-time.

Since all conversations unfold in a single space, all stakeholders have a transparent view of what is happening. This approach has allowed us to benefit from a range of efficiencies. Since all client-expert interactions and information sharing are captured in one place, anyone can go back and search for this knowledge base that is built over time.

All relevant schedules, updates, documents, and information are seamlessly available to all stakeholders right in this space. Our attorneys and clients are able to gain comfort in the environment with minimal training, as it is peripheral to many technologies we use in our daily lives—mobile messaging, online meetings, document sharing, etc.

This saves everyone from time wasted by having the same exchanges multiple times and searching through emails, voice messages, texts, and meeting notes. Attorney time is also more efficiently used since everyone does not have to travel to in-person meetings all the time.

Thriving During Covid-19

The ramifications of this “client experience” built around the uShare.to communication portal and the other integrated cloud-based technology platforms enable a transformative model for delivering legal services. Since Shulman Rogers’ NEXT platform had gained momentum and was primarily delivered through an online environment before Covid-19 hit, it has been able to continue delivering high-quality, high-touch services with minimal disruption.

The foundational framework of the client-centric NEXT platform—predictable fixed price packages and service bundles, legal services delivered directly by senior attorneys, and integrated cloud-based technology platforms comprised of leading technology providers—has been tested, validated, and is thriving during the remote-work environment resulting from the pandemic.