Category Archives: General News

August 2018 Market Horizon Scanning Report

Welcome to the August 2018 edition of the Riverview Law Market Scanning Report.

As part of our market and horizon scanning activities we have always collected and circulated internally relevant legal market articles, commentaries, reports and blogs. When we shared this data with a GC he asked why we didn’t routinely share this with him because he’d find it invaluable. It was a good question!

So, we now publish this report which, as you’ll see below, contains links to what we think are the most interesting and relevant legal market commentaries of July 2018 and previous months.

Best wishes,

The Riverview Law R&D Team

July 2018

Data Is The Key To Survival In Today’s Competitive Legal World
30 July 2018
https://rv-l.com/2OuNfMk
Above The Law

Law Firms, Artificial Intelligence, And The Fork In The Road
26 July 2018
https://rv-l.com/2LQx4dF
Above The Law

Law Firms are Inefficiency Factories, Automation is the Cure
25 July 2018
https://rv-l.com/2OthGmh
Remaking Law Firms

Attention Legal Industry Decision-Makers: Before You Spend on Legal Tech, Read This
23 July 2018
https://rv-l.com/2LKPYCX
Law.com

‘Triage’, one of the most powerful words in the in-house legal dictionary (page 24)
July 2018
https://rv-l.com/2NXFDkj
Liverpool Law Magazine

Riverview gifts its AI to charity to help City lawyers do more pro bono
13 July 2018
https://rv-l.com/2M1CqQb
The Lawyer

Legal Delivery at The Speed of Business — And Why It Matters
25 June 2018
https://rv-l.com/2OurX1n
Forbes

AI improves efficiency significantly for law firms
13 June 2018
https://rv-l.com/2LOtJvY
Global Legal Post

July 2018 Market Horizon Scanning Report

Welcome to the July 2018 edition of the Riverview Law Market Scanning Report.

As part of our market and horizon scanning activities we have always collected and circulated internally relevant legal market articles, commentaries, reports and blogs. When we shared this data with a GC he asked why we didn’t routinely share this with him because he’d find it invaluable. It was a good question!

So, we now publish this report which, as you’ll see below, contains links to what we think are the most interesting and relevant legal market commentaries of June 2018 and previous months.

Best wishes,

The Riverview Law R&D Team

June 2018

Legal departments report flat budgets, increased work load, more tech
27 June 2018
https://rv-l.com/2u4oCga
Global Legal Post

Legal Delivery at The Speed of Business — And Why It Matters
25 June 2018
https://rv-l.com/2KK9XxD
Forbes

Law firms “complacent” about market changes, says bellwether report
19 June 2018
https://rv-l.com/2NhMqpq
Legal Futures

ABS launches programme to retrain lawyers in commercial contracts work
15 June 2018
https://rv-l.com/2JMZKjE
Legal Futures

Numeracy skills “massively more important” for future lawyers, tech pioneer predicts
06 June 2018
https://rv-l.com/2sM5tit
Legal Futures

Riverview Law Legal Re-Train Programme Launches!
05 June 2018
https://rv-l.com/2LWF5Ln
Riverview Law

The Power of an Idea
04 June 2018
https://rv-l.com/2MPasHE
Corporate Counsel

General Counsel Find Their Platform – Flying blind while burning fuel has been the legal services norm (page 36)
June 2018
https://rv-l.com/2zc0RbU
Liverpool Law

Riverview Law Legal Re-Train Programme Launches!

The Riverview Law Legal Re-Train Programme launched on Friday 1st June 2018. The programme continues to build on the company strategy of contributing to the development of the legal market. With a growing number of lawyers seeking to enhance their careers by moving into commercial contracts, Riverview Law sees its first 10 lawyers embarking on a 2 year training programme. The programme will take them from a wide variety of specialisms including family law, PI, litigation, industrial disease and employment, and re-train them as commercial contracts lawyers.

Riverview Law has a proud history of growing its own people with a well-established training contracts programme incorporating an SRA approved Technology seat. The development of the Riverview Law Legal Re-Train Programme continues this theme with those undertaking the programme being exposed to:

– Commercial contracts legal training;

– ‘On the job’ commercial experience in at least 2 areas of Riverview Law’s Managed Service  and/or Projects business areas; and

– The utilisation of Kim and other technologies for the legal industry.

“The Legal Re-Train Programme is an exciting opportunity for us as a business and lawyers in the industry. Having seen the high calibre candidates from other disciplines who are seeking a career in commercial contracts, we knew this was another excellent opportunity to grow our business and support the evolution of the legal market. Our kick off session was full of laughter and enthusiasm with everyone eager to get the programme up and running. We look forward to welcoming our next cohort in the very near future too!”  Sonia Williamson, Head of Managed Services & Projects, Riverview Law.

Re-Train Photo

Photo above: Our first 10 lawyers embarking on the Riverview Law Legal Re-Train Programme with Susanne Macpherson  (Legal Re-Train Programme Lead) and Sonia Williamson (Head of Managed Services & Projects).

Are you a lawyer looking to re-train in commercial contracts?

If you are, we are now recruiting for the next Riverview Law Legal Re-Train Programme.

We are looking for talented, enthusiastic lawyers with at least 2 years PQE or equivalent UK legal industry experience in a commercial specialism, to join our fast paced, rapidly growing legal business.

If you want to build your career in commercial contracts and join a business often described as ‘one of the leading disrupters in the legal market’ apply to attend our next Assessment and Development Centre.

For more information about how to apply please email joinus@riverviewlaw.com with your CV and contact details.

June 2018 Market Horizon Scanning Report

Welcome to the June 2018 edition of the Riverview Law Market Scanning Report.

As part of our market and horizon scanning activities we have always collected and circulated internally relevant legal market articles, commentaries, reports and blogs. When we shared this data with a GC he asked why we didn’t routinely share this with him because he’d find it invaluable. It was a good question!

So, we now publish this report which, as you’ll see below, contains links to what we think are the most interesting and relevant legal market commentaries of May 2018 and previous months.

Best wishes,

The Riverview Law R&D Team

May 2018

General Counsel find their Platform
June 2018
https://rv-l.com/2Jt0eym
Riverview Law

Legal should be the best forecaster of sales in any organisation! (page 22)
May 2018
https://rv-l.com/2xvBa5g
Liverpool Law Society

What do we need? A lawyer-data scientist hybrid! What?
29 May 2018
https://rv-l.com/2xsPOdx
Legal IT Insider

General Counsel Need to Seek Flat Fees More, Research Finds
24 May 2018
https://rv-l.com/2J4xM2z
Corporate Counsel

Innovation Is Law’s New Game, But Wicked Problems Remain
21 May 2018
https://rv-l.com/2LM5gVg
Forbes

The In-House Counsel’s Legal Tech Buyer’s Guide
14 May 2018
https://rv-l.com/2JiZxHN
LawGeex

Legal procurement profoundly impacting business, survey says
02 May 2018
https://rv-l.com/2xrQ9x6
The Global Legal Post

General Counsel find their Platform

Delivering Legal Operations excellence through people, systems and data

1. Flying blind while burning fuel has been the legal services norm

Within organisations finance, tax, HR and sales typically operate and deliver their services through dedicated software platforms. Whether based on SAP, Oracle, Sage, Workday, Salesforce or other systems, these platforms provide the workflows, processes, templates and essential operational data that make efficient and successful operations possible. The functions that use them know what work they have, where it is coming from, what its value/risk is, who is handling it, how long it takes, why it closed. Their leaders have insight through real-time and trend dashboards and reports that allow them to manage their teams tactically and strategically, driving transformation. They have the means to support and, where appropriate, lead decision-making at the executive level.

Until recently legal departments have had no access to comparable platforms. Only point solutions such as matter management, e-billing, and document review were available. As a result neither comprehensive operational data nor structured work management were in sight. Legal departments typically do not know all the work they have, how complex it is, where it is coming from, who is handling it, how long it takes, or why it closed. On a cross-department, global basis their leaders lack the real-time and trend data to allocate work effectively (internally or externally), manage risk, improve processes, pre-empt issues, reduce costs, and improve customer experience. Mike Naughton of Cisco puts it this way ‘Flying blind while burning fuel has been the legal services norm’.

This is all beginning to change with the rise of Legal Operations Platforms. These technology platforms, tailored to legal and related areas, provide law departments with the equivalent operational advantage currently held by their finance, tax, sales and HR colleagues. By “enabling” the legal function, they allow it to develop and embed a true Legal Operating Model (‘the way things are done around here’), into a scalable technology that integrates with other enterprise-wide systems and point solutions. They deliver market, customer and strategic relevance through actionable data (see Diagram 1).

Operations Platforms capture quantitative and qualitative data that transforms corporate legal departments. They free and protect legal team members by helping them make better and quicker decisions, pre-empt risk, and focus on work that makes a difference to the business that they serve, protect and enable. The data changes what work the department does and does not do, what is self-served, what is re-directed and what is done internally and externally.

These new platforms fundamentally change the legal market supply and value chains. As GCs and Legal Operations teams come to understand and rely on data, they learn how to make informed decisions about how they can best support the tactical and strategic objectives of their business. As well as advisers and business partners they become managers of legal service delivery, designing who should do what work and where, whether internally or externally. It also helps them decide what work should, critically, not be done by expensive lawyers. The General Counsel’s Office now has its platform and the data it generates pushes the department, sometimes against its instincts, to the heart of decision-making.

Many drivers are building momentum for this evolution in how and where legal work is performed: increased competition across all sectors, the dynamic world of legislative and regulatory change, cost-up and price-down pressures, digital disruption, technological innovation (including AI), and law firm inertia. The arrival of new entrants, particularly the Big Four, and the way they change thinking and use data should not be under-estimated.

There will be an inevitable growth in work retained by corporate legal functions. While this leads to a material reduction in work undertaken by traditional law firms (see Diagram 2) it does not mean a commensurate increase in in-house legal team numbers. Self-service, technology and dashboards will drive significant productivity gains. Corporations’ enterprise-wide focus on data, from which legal operations are not immune, plus outsourcing to innovators such as Riverview Law and the Big Four, will accelerate this trend.

All roads lead to function-wide legal operating models and platforms, not point solutions. To the legal data layer, not spreadsheets. The corporate law departments that grasp this will, quietly, quickly and unassumingly, move to the heart of business decision making and strategy. Their teams will be freed to become business enablers.

2. How do we make it happen? How do we embed our operating model into a scalable Operations Platform?

We are frequently asked these questions when corporate legal teams visit our Service Delivery Centres. In responding we share our journey plus the many mistakes we have made and the lessons we have learnt. We explain Diagram 1, the Riverview Law Operating Model, powered by Kim, and how we took our Operating Model (Step 1) and embedded it in an Operations Platform (Step 4); review from ‘1. Operating Model’ and work up.

Diagram 1: The Riverview Law Legal Operations Platform, powered by Kim

 Diagram 1

3. Will the relationship between corporate legal departments and law firms change?

Data provides insight. As corporate legal departments industrialise their operating models they understand what work they have; they capture essential operational data. This is changing, and will change, how and where work is done. Traditional law firms are likely to lose ground. This customer (inside-out) view is supported by external market research. In ‘Remaking Law Firms: Why and How’ Dr George Beaton and Dr Imme Kaschner observe:

Based on the researched conclusion that no law firm can assume its place and prosperity are assured … most firms are not well equipped to know what to do or how to ‘remake’ their business models. In the future the ways clients meet their needs and the rules for success of firms are very different. The winners in the kaleidoscope will be those firms that are starting now to prepare in earnest.”

George Beaton further suggests that over the next decade a series of trends will inevitably result in a reduction in the share of legal services revenues secured by traditional law firms. He forecasts that, while still important, law firms will be substituted by a combination of (i) new entrants, (ii) automation, (iii) technology innovation and (iv) the continuing growth in corporate legal functions doing work that previously went externally. The table below is the Beaton/Dawson forecast for England & Wales in their April 2016 paper ‘Evidence why BigLaw firms must start remaking now’.  They identify the same trend in other jurisdictions.

Diagram 2

Diagram 2

Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith Esq, commenting on current market dynamics, re-enforces this view:

In constant, inflation-adjusted dollars, we see zero current marketplace evidence that the law firm sector will experience anything other than a shrinking share of revenue – nor have we heard any plausible hypothesis to the contrary.  The in-house share, meanwhile, should achieve modest real growth by virtue of labor market arbitrage if for no other reason; but it will not and never should grow to the sky, as a core competence of corporations is not building an internal law firm.  Finally, NewLaw (depending on how inclusive your definition and whose data you believe) has been on a CAGR tear since finding its bearings a few years ago, with growth rates of 30–60%/year, and the sector is still in its infancy.  Add to this that every $1.00 going to NewLaw takes perhaps $3.00 out of the other sectors and while the size of its share a decade hence is subject to the greatest forecast error, the vector of its growth is as certain as business bets can be.” May 2018

We witness these themes in all our customers. The direction of travel is clear.

Karl Chapman
Chief Executive, Riverview Law

Riverview Law (
www.riverviewlaw.com) provides three core services to its customers:

Managed Services: By using dedicated-to-customer teams that understand the culture, risk appetite and operating model of our customer, we use our Legal Operations Platform to become a seamless part of the client function, freeing its team so that it can focus on key tactical and strategic matters. All our managed service contracts are fixed prices so that we share risk/reward with our customers and drive appropriate behaviours.

Projects: Using our Legal Operations Platform we are experts in document review, remediation and prototyping managed services and technology solutions for customers.

Technology: We help corporate legal and related departments to use data and technology to evolve their operating models, improve quality, manage risk and reduce costs. We are the leading global systems integrator of the Kim technology platform for customers who want to deploy Kim for their teams to use.

Download the extract here.

May 2018 Market Horizon Scanning Report

Welcome to the May 2018 edition of the Riverview Law Market Scanning Report.

As part of our market and horizon scanning activities we have always collected and circulated internally relevant legal market articles, commentaries, reports and blogs. When we shared this data with a GC he asked why we didn’t routinely share this with him because he’d find it invaluable. It was a good question!

So, we now publish this report which, as you’ll see below, contains links to what we think are the most interesting and relevant legal market commentaries of March 2018 and previous months.

Best wishes,

The Riverview Law R&D Team

April 2018

Legal Change: Why Drip, Not Disruption?
26 April 2018
https://rv-l.com/2FsWas9
Forbes

When It Comes To Legal Tech Solutions, Say What, Not How
24 April 2018
https://rv-l.com/2FrCSTH 
Above The Law

Costs and service quality drive trend toward boutique law firms
11 April 2018
https://rv-l.com/2raGqW9 
Global Legal Post

To Innovate In Law, We Need Analysis, Not Hype
05 April 2018
https://rv-l.com/2Km4Aoy 
Above The Law

Companies prefer in-house talent to outsiders
04 April 2018
https://rv-l.com/2FugBEJ 
Global Legal Post

SRA approves Riverview Law to offer technology training seat

SRA approves Riverview Law to offer technology training seat
Applications open for 2018 Training Contracts

Riverview Law, the innovative legal managed services, projects and technology business, is delighted to have secured SRA approval to include a technology services seat of up to 6 months as part of its training contract programme.

This is another first for one of the leading disrupters in the legal market, which won the ‘Innovation in Technology and Data Analytics’ award at The Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Europe Awards and the ‘Most innovative client-facing technology’ at The Lawyer Business Leadership Awards last year.

Karl Chapman, CEO of Riverview Law said: “We are thrilled to be able to offer a technology services training seat as part of our Training Contract Programme. Technology is impacting every sector of the economy and legal is not immune. We are delighted that the SRA has adopted a flexible approach that enables us to educate future lawyers in how technology can assist them, our customers and the law generally.”

Since launching training scheme in 2014 13 team members have successfully completed the training contract programme. This includes those who were awarded the first 7 training contracts in 2014 and 6 from the 2015 cohort.

The training contract scheme at Riverview Law is highly prized as it includes great experience working directly for FTSE 100 customers. Riverview Law was pleased to win four categories in the Lex 100 2016/17 Trainee Survey. The Lex 100 review states ‘Trainees explain that Riverview Law is ‘different from a traditional law firm’ as ‘the culture of the business is that of an In-house environment’.’

Riverview Law has up to 10 more Training Contract places starting on 1 October 2018 and candidates are invited to apply to attend an Assessment and Development Centre on 18th October 2017. For more information about how to apply to attend the Assessment and Development Centre on 18 October 2017 candidates can email joinus@riverviewlaw.com with their CV and contact details.

Steven Zdolyny, Director of Legal Services and COLP at Riverview Law said: “We are incredibly proud to have offered 13 training contracts to Riverview Law team members over the past 4 years. We invest heavily in the training and development of our team to ensure that everyone is able to grow their talent and fulfil their potential within the business. Since launch we have grown rapidly and as we continue to win blue chip customers it’s key for us to continue to recruit, train and develop the Riverview Law team.”

Anyone interested in a career at Riverview Law can find out more via the careers page on their website here.

Riverview Law awarded ISO/IEC 27001:2013 accreditation

Riverview Law has been awarded the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 Information Security Management accreditation by BSI. ISO/IEC 27001:2013 is an internationally recognised best practice framework for an information security management system (ISMS). The certification provides independent assurance that robust information security processes are in place to safeguard customer data within a business. The accreditation process considers all business operations, not just technology, providing the business with a complete approach to information security encompassing people, processes and technology. Riverview Law’s Operations Director, Katy Robson, says: “We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded ISO/IEC 27001:2013 accreditation. By being awarded ISO/IEC 27001:2013 our global customers have an internationally recognised stamp of approval that the security of their confidential data and information is of the highest priority to Riverview Law.” The awarding of the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 accreditation comes at an exciting time for Riverview Law as the company recently won the ‘Innovation in Technology and Data Analytics’ award at The Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Europe Awards 2016, ‘Most innovative client-facing technology’ at The Lawyer Business Leadership Awards 2016 and four of thirteen categories in the Lex 100 2016/17 Trainee Survey. The company continues to recruit heavily in the North West. For further information on joining Riverview Law visit www.riverviewlaw.com/join-us. For more information on ISO/IEC 27001:2013 and what the accreditation means click here.

Riverview Law CEO named in FT top 10 tech trailblazers in legal practice

Our CEO, Karl Chapman, was named in the top 10 tech trailblazers in legal practice by the Financial Times at the FT European Innovative Lawyer Awards 2016. The top 10 consisted of: Winner: Charlotte Stalin, Simmons & Simmons Bernard O’Connor, Nctm Studio Legale David Wakeling, Allen & Overy Akber Datoo, D2 Legal Technology Karl Chapman, Riverview Law Jeroen Zweers, Kennedy Van der Laan Magda Cocco, VdA Mark Nicolaides, Latham & Watkins Keith Schilling, Schillings Pamela Thompson, Eversheds For the full article about those shortlisted click here.

Winner of ‘Innovation in Technology and Data Analytics’ at the FT European Innovative Lawyer Awards 2016

We are absolutely delighted to have won the ‘Innovation in Technology and Data Analytics’ category at the FT European Innovative Lawyer Awards 2016. The category shortlist consisted of: Allen & Overy Bates Wells Braithwaite Berwin Leighton Paisner DWF Mishcon de Reya Pinsent Masons Riverview Law Simmons & Simmons Taylor Vinters For the full shortlist scoring breakdown click here.

Winner in 4 Lex 100 Trainee Survey categories

We are delighted to have won in four of thirteen categories in the The Lex 100’s annual trainee survey. This year the survey gathered over 3,000 anonymous responses from trainees at 173 law firms across the UK. In evaluating their firms the trainees assigned scores according to 13 different criteria of trainee life. These are job satisfaction, living up to expectations, work quality, client contact, stress levels, work/life balance, friendliness, social life, vacation scheme, confidence of being kept on, remuneration and diversity and international secondments. We won in the following categories: Low stress levels Work/life balance Friendliness Confidence of being kept on Lex Badges for website For full details on how Riverview Law scored click here.

Winner of ‘Most innovative client-facing technology’ at The Lawyer Business Leadership Awards 2016

We are thrilled to have won the ‘Most innovative client-facing technology’ category at The Lawyer Business Leadership Awards 2016. The category shortlist consisted of: Addleshaw Goddard K&L Gates Kennedy Van der Laan Paul Hastings Pinsent Masons Reed Smith Riverview Law Taylor Wessing Further information about why Riverview Law won the award can be found here.

Robert Farina appointed Chief Executive Officer of Kim Technologies

Kim Technologies, a next generation provider of software that applies artificial intelligence capabilities to knowledge automation and which powers the Riverview Law Virtual Assistants has appointed Robert (Bob) Farina as its Chief Executive Officer. Bob is a highly experienced CEO of Private Equity and Venture Capital backed US technology companies. He has over 30 years’ experience in leading start-ups, turnarounds and high growth enterprises in the software-as-a-service (“SaaS”), business process outsourcing, professional services, payment processing and packaged software business segments. His previous CEO and VP roles include JK Group Inc (2012-2016), Cybershift Inc (2002-2011) and USInternetworking (2000-2002). The appointment of Bob marks the next step in the development of Kim Technologies as the team and technology grow and evolve at a rapid pace. Bob will be based in the New Jersey office. Karl Chapman, Chairman of Kim’s Board and CEO of Riverview Law the company that is the lead investor in Kim Technologies, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to appoint Bob as CEO of Kim Technologies. We have had many conversations and visits with Bob over the last few months. Bob had various other CEO opportunities following the sale of his last company, so it is a strong endorsement of the prospects for Kim Technologies that he joins as CEO.’ ‘This comes at a key stage in the development of Kim Technologies as we move onto the next phase in its evolution. This phase includes refining the Kim business model, market positioning and to-market strategy, continuing to evolve the Kim platform/products further and winning more customers and building a global sales pipeline.’ Bob Farina said ‘Kim has a unique capability to transform how work gets done by knowledge workers around the world which, in turn, adds substantial value to their organizations.  I am excited to be working with a very talented team to build Kim into a global brand with a core value being to have strong, long-term partnerships with our clients.’ The Kim technology is applicable across all sectors and functions, in any country. To learn more about Kim Technologies please visit the website www.ask.kim.

New Manchester office as Riverview Law eyes major recruitment drive and awards additional training contracts

Following new contract wins and the expansion of work with existing customers, Riverview Law is relocating to larger premises in Manchester on 1 September to accommodate its growing team. The move to Delta House in Wythenshawe comes 17 months after the business first opened in Manchester. This larger space, combined with the Wirral Service Delivery Centre, will enable Riverview to recruit up to 60 more team members, including solicitors, paralegals, client managers and data analysts, over the next year, and provide an option to take additional space in line with future business growth. Previously, 20 staff worked from the Manchester office with each working between the city and the business’s headquarters in the Wirral. The new state-of-the-art office provides Riverview Law with enhanced multi-site disaster recovery and IT resilience, meaning that it can provide client services in an ever more secure business environment. Riverview Law has recently awarded two training contracts to existing members of the team to join its two-year solicitor training programme, which it first launched in September 2014. Susannah Brumby and Harriet Clayton will commence their training contracts this October. The first cohort of seven trainees finishes in September, with the second group of six trainees now almost a year into their training. Riverview Law’s Operations Director, Katy Robson, says: “Our continued growth is due to increasing customer demand and Manchester provides an excellent talent pool to meet it. Increasingly, our corporate customers demand a higher standard of IT and data security and we must be able to meet and exceed this expectation to grow existing contracts and win new business. Our new office enables us to provide this important reassurance. “We are also thrilled to have offered two more training contracts this year and to have our first trainee solicitors qualifying in September. Since we launched our trainee programme in 2014 we have awarded 15 trainee contracts and are committed to continuing the development and progression of all Riverview Law team members.” Riverview Law has three UK locations – London, Manchester and Wirral – and two US locations – New Jersey and New York. Further details about existing vacancies can be found on the Riverview Law website Join Us.

Riverview Law launch first Spanish Virtual Assistants powered by Kim

Following the successful launch of its first Virtual Assistants in April this year Riverview Law has today rolled out its first Spanish Virtual Assistants (http://rv-l.com/2aqmmrs) powered by the Kim technology platform (www.ask.kim). All the Riverview Law Virtual Assistants are aimed at helping in-house legal teams, globally, make quicker and better decisions. These Assistants are quick and easy to launch and cost-effective. Karl Chapman, Chief Executive of Riverview Law, says: “We’re thrilled to be launching our first two Spanish process Assistants built on the Kim platform. Since our UK launch we have had a huge amount of interest from all over the world and the natural next step was to launch other language versions. Over the coming months we will continue to launch new Virtual Assistants in various different languages.” For full pricing of all the Riverview Law Virtual Assistants and their upgrade options please visit http://rv-l.com/2aqmmrs.

‘Triage’, one of the most powerful words in the In-house legal dictionary

Capturing foundational data that helps improve performance, evolve the legal operating model and make the function AI ready

 1. Introduction

We all know how crucial triage is in a medical environment. Intuitively we know it makes sense to ensure that the most critical cases are seen quickly and efficiently. Most business functions have applied triage based processes for years, decades. Sales to direct the right opportunities to the most relevant sales people. HR to allocate the appropriate resource to a particular case. IT to direct enquires to the right technician. This should be no surprise. In French ‘triage’ literally means to sort or to categorise. What function would not want to sort and categorise its incoming work to ensure that it is handled by the right person, at the right time and at the right price?

2. The power of triage

We used triage in the recruitment company we set-up in 1989 and ran until 1999 (www.spring.com). We use it in AdviserPlus, the HR managed service business we founded in 2000. We use it extensively in Riverview Law. When we deliver managed services to our customers it is really important that we know:

  • Who the instruction came from
  • What business unit they are in
  • What the work type is
  • What the urgency of the work is
  • Whether the instruction is complete
  • When we received the instruction
  • Who we allocated it to (Riverview Law, In-house team or third party legal provider?)
  • What its current status is
  • How long each stage of the work took … etc

This is the foundational data layer upon which all our real time and trend data is built. We cannot run our business effectively, or constantly improve our services to customers, reduce costs and improve quality without the data and insights it provides (see Appendix A). This is why ‘triage’ is one the most powerful words in the In-house dictionary. It is the foundational layer that drives not only a game-changing data strategy but the entire legal operating model; because it helps determine where work is coming from, what work should be done by whom and whether it should be done internally or externally. Given how easy it is to implement an effective instruction management and triage process (www.virtualassistants.global) it is surprising how few In-house teams have the systems (not spreadsheets!) and real-time dashboards in place to cover this key part of the legal support process. The data it provides helps to allocate work effectively and answer what, in reality, are pretty fundamental questions; how many matters do we have live today, who is handling them, what is their status …? These answers should be readily available. In this context legal is no different from any other function in a business. If I ask a Finance Director equivalent questions they can answer immediately; what is our net cash position, what is the rolling three month profit forecast and how does it compare with budget, how is our capital expenditure tracking against forecast …? If I ask a Sales Director what the sales pipeline looks like they can show me the number of opportunities in the pipeline, who is handing them and what the status is.

3. The direct and indirect benefits of triage

A well-constructed instruction management and triage process has many benefits: 1. Consistent and easy to use gateway to Legal For both users of In-house legal services (the business) and legal team members, a well-constructed triage process makes life easier. For lawyers it provides consistency, complete instructions and it helps manage the influx of work. For business users, who are used to working in this way with other functions, it provides a quick and easy gateway through which to access legal support. Whenever we deploy our Virtual Assistants (virtualassistants.global) invariably the In-house legal team response is the same – ‘why didn’t we do this before?’ The business response is usually, ‘about time’.


2. The right people doing the right work Triage makes sure that the right work is undertaken by the right people, at the right time and at the right price. Because triage captures the data automatically In-house departments soon start re-allocating work. It is amazing how often the data highlights experienced In-house team members working on matters that are mid or low complexity while work they could/should be doing is being sent to expensive external law firms. By allocating the work properly, In-house morale increases because the team is working on more challenging matters. Net costs reduce because expensive, hourly billing, third party law firms are replaced by a combination of In-house team members and fixed priced managed services providers like Riverview Law handling the volume day-to-day work.


3. Resource management and planning In-house legal leaders often share with us their frustration about being unable to make the internal business case for more team members. They may or may not need more people. Whether they do or do not, the real-time and trend data that instruction management and triage provides is exactly the information needed to make a detailed analysis so that an evidence based case can be established. We have seen In-house use our data to change the mix of work they do. This has either avoided the need for more people or, typically, reduce the actual number of new team members required.


4. Creating a Target Operating Model (TOM) There is, rightly, a lot of talk across the In-house community about evolving legal operating models and the need to make decisions within a strategic framework rather than just fire-fighting and implementing tactical solutions. This was a key theme at the excellent Corporate Legal Operations Conference in San Francisco: ‘Something’s Happening’ http://rv-l.com/CLOCblog. Legal leaders recognise that they need a target operating model that they can work towards. Yes, the TOM evolves over time. It should. But there needs to be a broad direction of travel and a plan. One of the key inputs into establishing a TOM is an understanding of the work the function is handling. Which brings us all the way back to the power of instruction management and triage.


5. The foundational layer for a legal data strategy The potential impact that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have on markets, business models and company functions (sales, HR, legal …) is covered daily in the media. The impact is unknown. However, irrespective of the potential of AI, it is clear that machine learning, analytics and smart assistants are driving change now. Indeed, many of these tools are AI enablers. But, to use existing technology effectively, let alone AI, it is critical that In-house legal has a clear data strategy. A clear understanding of what core data it should routinely and accurately collect from its internal and external teams (see Appendix B). Only with this in place will a function be AI ready. At the core of any legal data strategy is instruction management and triage because it is the start of the entire process.


6. Management of third party law firms One of the most effective ways to manage third party legal providers is to have accurate and transparent performance and quality data. With the right data an In-house team can move work, quickly, to the best internal and/or external providers. The diagram below reflects the model we recommend when In-house deploy our Instruction and Triage and other Virtual Assistants (many customers select Riverview Law as one of their managed service providers): Triage image

4. Law firms beware

We have never seen an In-house function that is not busy. But are its team members working on the right matters? Is the right work being done In-house and the right work being sent externally? Is the function being smart rather than just busy? Instruction management and triage provide an easy to deploy answer. An answer which also makes the function technology and AI enabled because of the foundational data layer it automatically creates. And law firms should beware. Triage does not just help internal In-house effectiveness. Once In-house has mastered triage it will totally transform its relationship with external provides of legal services because it drives transparency. In-house will know what work it has sent to a firm, when it sent it, and how long the firm took to do it when compared with internal and/or competitor law firms. When this inevitable shift happens, the legal providers that can prove their efficiency and effectiveness with transparent and tangible measures, such as quality, speed, proactivity and cost, will win out over their more opaque traditional counterparts. This is a world that we at Riverview look forward to – bring it on! Karl Chapman Chief Executive Riverview Law Download full white paper here

Something’s Happening

CLOC Institute, San Francisco, 2-4 May 2016 The first album I ever bought was ‘Frampton Comes Alive’. The lyrics to one of the many great tracks on that album, ‘Something’s Happening’, include the lines: You know it’s alright something’s happening Hold tight it might be lightning Turn up the lights I feel like dancing Can’t sleep at night my heart keeps missing a beat Well, I didn’t see lightning at CLOC 2016 (www.cloc.org). But something is definitely happening. Most unexpectedly given that it was a legal conference, I actually did feel like dancing at the ‘Big Thinkers’ session on the last day (see the Tweets on 5 May at #CLOC2016 and the comments from Ralph Baxter, Mark Ross and the rest of the excellent, if very large, panel!). For the record, and I am sure to the eternal delight of my daughters, I resisted the temptation to dance (“you’re soooo embarrassing”). Equally surprising – IT WAS A LEGAL CONFERENCE – although it’s past midnight there is absolutely no chance that I’ll be sleeping any time soon. This has little to do with jet lag and more to do with my mind still buzzing, taking in the impact of the last three days. Not even the best bottle of Californian Pinot Noir will knock me out; now there’s a thought … Until the CLOC Institute, the best legal conference I’d been to was Codex 2015 at Stanford University (Walking with the new legal giants – http://rv-l.com/1bZJxFW). Well, Codex 2016, take note. The bar has been raised. CLOC 2016 caught and contributed to a mood, to a trend. Ignoring the excellent insights from the stage and floor contributors (there are just too many to recount), the key themes included: • The Rise of Legal Operations: As Pat Lamb observed, participants will have left the conference with increasing confidence in and validation of the importance of the Legal Operations role in the legal function of the future. The importance of this cannot be overstated. This confidence, but not over-confidence, is a critical ingredient if change is to happen; • Target Operating Model (TOM): There was, rightly, a lot of talk about evolving legal operating models and the need to make decisions within a strategic framework rather than just fire-fighting and implementing tactical solutions. Legal functions need a target operating model they can work towards. Operating models evolve, as they should, but there needs to be a broad direction of travel and a plan; • Don’t Try and Boil the Ocean: In-house teams need to just start and do something; it’s a journey. But, in the context of TOM, incremental steps should be taken that deliver early wins and create confidence. There is no greater set-back than the failure of a grand plan. Much better, as Jeff Carr would say, to ‘stretch, step and then leap’; • Data Strategy / Transparency: Accompanying TOM is the need for every legal function to have a data strategy; what data do you want to capture? Data is both a friend and a shield. It provides the information that ensures that the right work is done by the right people in the right place at the right price, whether the work is undertaken internally or externally. It allows in-house teams to control their own destiny rather than have change imposed on them because they didn’t have even the most basic information (how many matters do we have, where did they come from (individual and business), what are the work types, when did we receive them, who did we allocate them to, how long is the work taking, how much did it cost, what was the outcome …Instruction and Triage Assistant: http://rv-l.com/1SzVFfQ); • Accessible Tech: Workflows and data capture processes can now be automated increasingly quickly and cost-effectively. The technology and the cost is no longer the barrier it was (Virtual Assistants: http://rv-l.com/Virtual_Assistants). The question for in-house teams is now ‘why aren’t we doing this?’; and • Customer Empowerment: It is OK to be a demanding but fair and collaborative customer. Law firm costs and overheads are their challenge not in-house’s. In-house wants value. Law firms need to build delivery models that enable them to provide this value and be profitable at the same time. As Ron Dolin pointed out, if law firms won’t change, stop enabling them. Use alternative providers so that you have hard data against which to benchmark your existing law firms. This direction of travel is encouraging and desirable. As recent entrants to the legal market one of the biggest initial surprises to us was seeing customers not act as customers. As customers, GCs, Heads of Legal and lawyers have always had the ability to change the behaviour of law firms and therefore the legal market. But, with some exceptions, they haven’t, yet, and the overwhelming majority of law firms have no incentive to do so; why would they, given little real push-back from customers and the profit margins being made – which are unsustainable in any properly functioning competitive market. But something’s happening. The stars are aligning. The recent economic collapse and subsequent slow growth has made businesses look at their costs. All functions, including legal, need to do more with less. Organisations of all sizes are facing growing and fast changing competitive pressure. New entrants to the market provide business customers with more choice. Technology, even forgetting the consequences of AI, is becoming widely available at accessible prices that will drive efficiency and better and quicker decision-making. Non-lawyers (at least in some jurisdictions) can own law firms and bring business disciplines to bear … And now we have CLOC (www.cloc.org). An organisation that, with momentum and great timing, helps facilitate and stimulate eco-system change. When people look back in 10-15 years I suspect that 2-4 May 2016 will be seen as one of the key milestones in the transition of the legal market. The legend on the timeline will simply say ‘CLOC Institute May 2016, San Francisco’ but this will understate the significance of what has just happened. I have nothing but admiration for Connie Brenton, Mary O’Carroll, Jeff Franke and all the team that made it happen. For delegates CLOC 2016 felt a bit like a call to arms, which is why I am already looking forward to CLOC 2017! Karl Chapman CLOC Slides May 2016: View presentation here. Karl Chapman Chief Executive Riverview Law Twitter: @KarlChapman100

Global launch of first Virtual Assistants powered by Kim

Riverview Law has today rolled out the first two of its Virtual Assistants powered by the Kim technology platform (www.ask.kim). Aimed at in-house legal teams globally of any size, these Virtual Assistants aid the delivery of legal services across the business. First they provide business users with an easy-to-use gateway to legal support, ensuring that consistent and full instructions are received and that data capture is automated. For the in-house team, they then provide case management, document storage and dashboards that provide actionable business insight (www.riverviewlaw.com/virtual-assistants/). The Assistants feature comprehensive reporting. For example, at the click of a button in the In-house Assistant, a user can see how many live cases the legal team is working on, of what work types, which business units the matters have come from, the risk profile of all the cases, which legal team members are working on the matters and how long cases are taking by user and work type. It allows legal leaders to ask the right questions and improve operational efficiency. The pricing model is designed to make it easy for in-house teams to buy and deploy these Virtual Assistants. The Virtual Assistants help general counsel, heads of legal and legal COOs ensure that the right work is done by the right people, in the right place and at the right price, whether undertaken internally or externally. Instruction and Triage Assistant The Instruction and Triage Assistant manages, triages and tracks the progress of instructions. It is pre-configured, cloud-based and, depending upon the number of users, can be live within one day (www.riverviewlaw.com/virtual-assistants/). In-house Assistant The Foundation level In-house Assistant adds case management and more comprehensive reporting to the Instruction and Triage Assistant. It too is pre-configured, cloud-based and, depending upon the number of users, can go live within one day (www.riverviewlaw.com/virtual-assistants/). The Professional level In-house Assistant has six modular options that enable organisations to tailor it to their business. This Assistant is cloud-based and typically live in one week. The upgrade options include additional users, company branding, tailored workflows and enhanced reporting. The Enterprise level In-house Assistant can be a cloud or on-premises deployment and is designed for global organisations which not only wish to tailor the system but also require extended implementation and roll-out support, plus ‘Super User’ access rights (to configure the platform in future themselves). Pricing for the Enterprise level Assistant is bespoke. Karl Chapman, Chief Executive of Riverview Law, says: “We are delighted to launch these process assistants built on the Kim platform. Our market testing in the UK, US and Canada has proved fascinating and has shown us how big the global market is for these types of cost-effective and easy-to-deploy Virtual Assistants. More will be launched in the coming months, including Advisory and Smart Assistants, as well as different language versions. “Effectively we are productising the Riverview Law operating model and helping in-house teams deliver better and quicker advice. We know from our use of these tools both internally and with customers that they can add huge value. That’s why we’ve deliberately positioned them so that price and technology are not barriers to adoption. This is one of the ways in which we are seeking to scale Riverview Law globally.” For full pricing of all the Riverview Law Virtual Assistants and their upgrade options please visit http://www.riverviewlaw.com/virtual-assistants/.

Would you rather be Uber or a taxi driver?

Reflections on a week with our tech team in the US

Until recently if I needed a taxi I used to add 10 minutes to my likely journey time given the impossibility of knowing when I would successfully flag down a black cab. Now the days of getting wet, missing a train, being late for a meeting are, traffic permitting, gone. Thanks to Uber. Uber owns no cars and employs no drivers. At its simplest it built an app that has dramatically changed, virtually overnight, the supply chain in personal transportation. Uber makes it easy for customers to travel from A to B. Customers get the solution they want at a lower price. Of course, as lawyers often tell me, there are no lessons here for legal or other professional services. None of Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, iTunes speak to the legal market, the potential for disintermediation or the consequences of customers being provided with a better solution. Law is different. Really? After another exhilarating week in the US with our CTO and the tech team of our recent acquisition, I’m even more convinced that the direction of travel is very clear. Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, iTunes, and many others, all talk to the disintermediation that good, simple, low cost technology can bring. They show what happens when customers are given easy to use tools. They change our behaviour. So what will change behaviour in the legal market? What will make customers, whether they are large corporations, mid-sized or small businesses and/or consumers change the way they use legal services? I’ve no doubt that one of the leading change agents in the legal market will be digital / virtual assistants. Tools that when deployed to customers change their behaviour. Tools that enable customers to do what they and suppliers currently do better, quicker and at lower cost. Tools that enable them to select the most effective and efficient supplier, quickly, and switch between in-house and external suppliers at will. This is where the parallels with Uber, a poster-child for technology disintermediation, become interesting: Knowledge and experience: London taxis drivers refer to ‘The Knowledge’, a stringent test that they have to pass to get their licence, as one of their major differentiators. The Knowledge tests the drivers ability to get from location A to location B via the shortest route. London taxi drivers are renowned for knowing all the roads and the routes in London. Before Satnavs / GPS this may have been an advantage. Technology has commoditised The Knowledge and virtual assistants have made it easy for any driver to find their destination. The same will happen in large areas of the law. Of course, The Knowledge ought to help in complex situations; Satnavs / GPS sometimes struggle if they need to divert from the obvious route. But this just speaks to the top of the legal pyramid and the protection that some players will be afforded. Even here much of the complex work will be delivered in a different way. Regulation: Uber has been and is being subjected to significant legal challenges. Taxi operators in many countries object to its model because it is not regulated in the same way. Well, object they may, the reality is that customers have and are voting with their wallets. The message customers have sent is compete or wither on the vine. Taxi operators need to recognise that monopoly pricing and a lack of innovation (they could have invented Uber) is now harming rather than helping them. The same will happen in large areas of the law. Profits and margins are only going one way for the vast majority of incumbents. The next generation If you speak to older drivers you will hear them say that it is not the same as it was, that when they started, they never thought that that their human expertise and knowledge could be replaced by technology. They add that they are pleased that they are coming to the end of their career and they worry about young cabbies. They recognise that they lived in what will be seen as a golden era for taxi drivers. There are too many drivers and Uber has compounded the problem. Of course, there is no over-supply of lawyers in the UK and the US and none of us have heard partners in law firms say that they are pleased that they are coming towards the end of their careers given the changing landscape! In this sense the only difference between taxi drivers and lawyers is that the taxi market is further into its restructuring than law is. The same will happen in large areas of the law. Disintermediation: In practice the black cabs of London and the yellow cabs of New York have been disintermediated. Until Uber we, the customer, were dependent on a taxi being in the right place at the right time. Taxi drivers determined whether we could take a ride because either they were there or they were not. Now we decide. A simple app has changed the value chain. It has brought more supply into the market. It has put the customer at the centre of the model. It has reduced prices and improved the customer experience. The same will happen in large areas of the law. I’d rather be Uber than a taxi driver even though I’ve had many brilliant taxi rides with opinionated London cabbies who have either told me the result of the next election, loved/hated my beloved Chelsea and/or moaned about … well everything, including Uber. Of course, and to quote a well-known legal commentator, I may be wrong. But, it’s better to compete than moan and I know where we’re investing our time and money; building a technology-led business with deep legal domain expertise. We will employ more lawyers next year than we do this year and we will employ even more lawyers in future years. But within a few years we will have more developers, data analysts, knowledge engineers, client managers … etc than we have lawyers. It is this combination of tech and domain expertise that will win in the emerging legal market. After all, Uber has a valuation of US$50bn and employs less than 2000 people while the value of a yellow cab medallion in NY has almost halved. Customers are the winners when legal virtual / digital assistants become widely available; assistants who will not be restricted to the legal market! Karl Chapman, Chief Executive, Riverview Law

Customers are the winners when the iTunes moment hits law

The below is an article written by our CEO, Karl Chapman, in the Legal Business report ‘AI and the law tools of tomorrow‘ which was published in November 2015 in association with Riverview Law.

Customers are the winners when the iTunes moment hits law

Change is in the air. You can sense it. Actually you can experience it, now!

We see a rapidly growing desire among our customers to understand how the technology revolution we’re living through will impact business models generally, their business, their function, and their people specifically. Twenty-six years after Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web there is a realisation that none of us are immune from the exponential impact of Moore’s law. A law that has had (and will have!) many consequences, including IBM Watson (a computer), beating the two all-time (human) champions on the TV game show ‘Jeopardy!’. Law is definitely not immune from this revolution. Neither are other professional services (TurboTax), taxi drivers (Uber), hotels (Airbnb), record shops (iTunes)… The regulatory barriers that protected sectors are falling, failing or being overtaken by customer action. Trust in brands and professionals is being replaced by alternative trust systems. LegalZoom is the best known legal brand in the US. None of us needs to trust in a hotel brand now that we have the combined experience of contributors to TripAdvisor. Accepted norms and ways to do things are being challenged, daily, by increasingly connected customers, whether consumers or businesses. Start-ups and technology have no blinkers, they do not know it cannot be done. Think about the implications of the wonderful comment from the IBM executive who said: “Watson doesn’t know it won Jeopardy!” In legal this growing desire to understand has to be measured against a low starting point. When we set up Riverview Law in 2012 and talked about the impact on the delivery of legal services and lawyers of automation, expert systems, analytics and visualisations we were greeted with the same shrug of irrelevance and ‘you don’t understand the law, dear boy’ as we do now when we talk about computable contracts, blockchains, virtual assistants, and the rise of the knowledge worker.

ai-and-the-law-tools-of-tomorrow

However, over the last year there has been a change. Our annual customer seminar in June – The impact of global technology trends on your business, the role of the legal function and what you can do about it today – was oversubscribed.

Increasingly bigger in- house legal and IT teams visit our Wirral Service Delivery Centre to see how people and technology can work seamlessly and effectively. In the last two weeks I’ve been asked three times ‘so when is the iTunes moment in law?’ There will be no one date for the legal equivalent of that iTunes moment. But the direction of travel is very clear and we can already identify the most likely source of this moment: the arrival of category re-defining virtual assistants. The race is on to create virtual assistants that will help customers, whether consumers, small businesses or large corporations, access legal (and other) support and guidance quickly and cost-effectively. They are already here in other areas: Hive, Cortana, Siri  and Indigo. They are emerging in law: ROSS, Amelia, Ravel and Judicata. Like Uber, which owns no taxis, and Airbnb, which owns no bedrooms, these assistants will put knowledge in the hands of customers. They will change where value sits. They will disintermediate large swathes of the current supply chain. This is great news for customers. They are the winners when the iTunes moment hits.

For more information, please contact:

Karl Chapman, Chief Executive, Riverview Law T: 0844 257 0027 E: info@riverviewlaw.com www.riverviewlaw.com

Equality & Diversity at Riverview Law – Diversity Data 2015

Riverview Law is committed to treating all its team members and job applicants equally and fairly. We are a proud member of the Law Society Diversity & Inclusion Charter.

Riverview Law encourages and values diversity and aims to have a workforce that is representative of the wider community.

These principles of equality and diversity also apply to the manner in which we treat our customers, business partners, suppliers and visitors.

On an annual basis we collect diversity data from our staff. We do not make it compulsory for our staff to provide their diversity data, however we encourage them to send it to us to enable us to monitor and review our diversity arrangements.

A selection of the results of our 2015 diversity data collection survey are displayed below. We have not published any diversity data in a way that might identify individuals.

Age graph

Gender graph

Disability graph

Education graph

Higher education graph

Support graph

Primary carer graph

For further information on Riverview Law’s Equality & Diversity arrangements contact Beth Britton (Equality & Diversity Champion) at bethbritton@riverviewlaw.com.

MSU Law Graduate Joins Riverview Law North American Expansion

The below press release was published by Michigan State University on 3rd August 2015. You can read the press release on their website here MSU Law graduate Brian C. Pike,2015, will join Riverview Law’s North American team as the UK-based law firm continues its expansion into the United States legal market. Opening this month, Riverview’s New Jersey office will be close to its existing hub in Manhattan, as well as to the technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem surrounding Princeton University. “With an increasing percentage of our revenues generated outside the UK and a growing U.S. customer base, we’re investing heavily in expanding our stateside presence and market offerings” said Andy Daws, Riverview’s VP North America. “Emerging technologies and next-gen automation are at the core of what we’re doing here, and there are very few law schools producing graduates like Brian who truly understand and embrace that landscape.” Pike was a standout student at MSU Law, a finalist in the ReInvent Law Innovative Ideas Competition and winning the law college’s very first social media contest. He is a certified civil and domestic mediator and a certified Lean design thinker. Pike landed the very first international internship with Riverview Law by tweeting about his interest in being an intern. “Brian is an outstanding ambassador for MSU Law and LegalRnD,” said Daniel W. Linna Jr., Assistant Dean for Career Development and Director of LegalRnD – The Center for Legal Services Innovation. “He excelled in the classroom with MSU Law’s innovative curriculum to develop the 21st Century skills necessary for success in today’s legal industry.” Pike joins Riverview as a Knowledge Automation Architect, a new role reflecting the ease with which knowledge workers such as lawyers are able to use Riverview’s proprietary technology platform to orchestrate and automate end-to-end processes and documents. Our licensed In-House Solutions platform puts control back into the hands of the legal department,” added Daws. “Our platform enables lawyers to automate their own processes and provides real-time data and business insight to help customers make quicker and better decisions. Brian is an ideal candidate to join our pioneering efforts in this field.” Contacts: Daniel W. Linna Jr, Michigan State University College of Law, assistant dean for career development, director of LegalRnD – The Center for Legal Services Innovation, and professor of law in residence Office: 517-432-6934; Email: linnadan@law.msu.edu Andy Daws, Riverview Law, VP North America Office: 212-729-7724 ; Email: andydaws@riverviewlaw.com Michigan State University College of Law successfully prepares graduates for legal employment in settings across the nation. The elective and required curriculum of the College of Law integrates theory and practice, thereby helping to ensure that graduates of MSU Law are well prepared for their first professional positions and their professional responsibilities for decades to come. Riverview Law provides large corporations with a high quality, fixed priced and proven alternative to using traditional law firms and/or growing the size of their in-house legal function. Using client dedicated teams which combine lawyers, client managers, data analysts and other professionals, Riverview Law helps free the internal legal team so that it can evolve its legal operating mode to focus on higher value added strategic and tactical requirements. Riverview Law has three core offerings. It provides managed service solutions via its Legal Advisory Outsourcing services. It licenses to in-house teams its service delivery and workflow platform, which manages instructions into the function, triage, case management and reporting. It provides barrister-led litigation, risk and compliance advice and support. Riverview Law does not practice law in the US. Its US activities are currently focused on R&D, licensed technology and client management.

The dawn (and the imminent explosion) of AI in law and legal services

By Steven Malyj, Trainee Solicitor at Riverview Law Towards the end of last year I watched a TEDSalon talk delivered by Kenneth Cukier to a Berlin audience in June 2014.  During the talk Cukier referred to machine learning and the advent of the self-driving car – how the approach to this was evolving from the challenge of explaining to a machine how to drive (think Hugh Jackman teaching the robot how to box in Real Steel), to a state where we provide the facts and the machine teaches itself (Cukier 2014).  It seemed like a fanciful notion and as I listened I imagined hauliers, taxi drivers and white van men going about their day blissfully unaware of the pending implications that this technology may have on their future.  Surely, now that the UK Government has unveiled its plans to invest almost £19 million in the road legal testing of driverless cars between now and 2020, these workers will begin to fret for their livelihoods.  Then, in January 2015 Riverview Law announced a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (‘KTP’) with the University of Liverpool to (among other things) draw on a pool of skilled data scientists and ground breaking Artificial Intelligence (‘AI’) with the aim of automating some of the cognitive abilities of knowledge workers and provide organisations with intelligent decision support tools. In a momentary panic, the palpitations began, my palms became clammy and I started to picture myself cueing up with aforementioned motorists to ‘sign on’.  But what does it really mean?  Where will AI really take the workforce?  This article investigates the dawn (and the imminent explosion) of AI in law and legal services and dispels the myth that new technology will signify the end for lawyers; positing rather that this is merely a new beginning, bringing with it a host of new opportunities for myself and my learned friends. I think we can take it as read by now that law firms, traditionally, are resistant to change; or that is at least how it reads on the face of things.  Some of us (myself included) may think it is more the case that law firms are not resistant, they are incapableOf the 304 respondents to the Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition survey of 2014 (Altman Weil, Inc 2014) the overwhelming consensus opined that the legal market had changed in fundamental ways, 67% of them predicted that the rate of change will only increase, but only 13% expressed any confidence in their firm’s ability to change or to at least keep pace with changes (Georgetown Law 2015).  With that in mind, it is perhaps no surprise that technology has not permeated ‘our world’ with any real pace, so before the critics among us nonchalantly snub the future of legal technology as some sort of urban legend – a bed time story about jurisprudential robots that will sneak into our office and steal our desks – it may be worthwhile briefly examining the application of AI in other fields. It should be enough to refer you to the household names of Amazon and Netflix and the way they use machine learning to suggest books and movies that you may be interested in; or how Facebook and LinkedIn can suggest people that you might know or wish to connect with.  No?  Okay, in October 2012, Geoffrey Hinton and a team of 4 doctoral students won a competition aimed at designing automated drug detection systems.  These systems use algorithms to analyse data sets and identify particular molecules that will bind to targets and therefore make for effective treatments. Interestingly, the competition ran for 60 days, but Hinton and his team did not enter the competition until the last two weeks.  Even more interestingly, neither Hinton nor his compadres had any background whatsoever in Chemistry, Biology or Life Sciences.  They even beat off competition from all of the algorithms developed by Merck – one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.  Hinton and his team achieved this accolade using Deep Learning; a process that attempts to mimic the neural connections of the human brain, processing data in much the same way.  I firmly believe that this is an amazing fete of technology and a sure sign of things to come – law is incredibly complex in its own right, but I defy anybody not to agree that it is at least paralleled by modern medicine and if 5 people with no subject matter expertise can outperform industry leaders then why can it not happen in law?  Make no mistake, machine learning and AI will go everywhere and it will happen at an alarming rate from herein. Applications of machine learning are certainly serving to further the principles of Moore’s Law – the theory that over time the pace of technological advances will increase on an exponential curve.  Figure 1[1] shows how Moore’s Law is progressing. Accelerating pace of change The graph shows that right about now, the processing power of modern technology has surpassed the processing power of a mouse’s brain and that by circa 2025 it will surpass the processing power of the human brain. Now, Moore’s Law isn’t ‘real law’.  It’s not grounded in hard science and empirical facts.  Moore’s Law was a simple observation by Gordon Moore in 1965 that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits roughly doubled each year since the invention of the integrated circuit and predicted that the trend would continue this way.  Looking at the historical plots on the chart, it was quite the prediction, so can we really say that more is not to come?  And quickly at that? What, then, for law?  The use of AI in law is not really a new concept; the first International Conference on AI and Law was held in Boston on 27th – 29th May 1987 and it has been held on every odd numbered year since then.  In 1988 Philip Capper and Richard Susskind didn’t just co-author Latent Damage Law: The Expert System, they developed a piece of software that could guide lawyers through “a dense web of barely intelligible interrelated rules” (Susskind 2014). The system mapped over 2 million paths that would guide lawyers to an informed solution and it was all extrapolated from the mind of one expert lawyer; it was so good that it was considered better than Capper and it was able to reduce the time that it took a lawyer to do this work from 10 hours to just 10 minutes.  But this was a very niche field and so perhaps it is understandable as to why the impact on the legal sector wasn’t what we would call earth shattering.  Further, to extrapolate that technique across the whole of the industry would take a great deal of initiative and inclination to gather the best minds in each field of law for as long as it takes to transfer their knowledge to a system.  We need systems that can learn, spot patterns, understand language and context and adapt. Germany’s Federal Government have recently deployed an AI application which makes automated decisions regarding citizens’ claims for child benefit.  The system is able to assess claims made by citizens by interpreting the justifications that they put forward in their application and determining whether these justifications merit the award of the benefit(s) claimed (Hodson 2013).  I cannot attest to the grounds for awarding child benefit in Germany or the means and criteria by which such claims are assessed, but I suspect that it is safe to say, like in the UK, that such claims are not straightforward and will include the opportunity for the claimant to provide details of extenuating circumstances and any other relevant information to support their claim and so on. What we have here is an example of an advancement in technology from Capper and Susskind’s method of man teaches machine – machine guides skilled operator, to an instance where man tells the machine the basics – machine learns, understands and operates itself.  The cynic here would shout at the top of their lungs “this will cost real people their jobs”. The optimist (particularly from a UK perspective) might well counter the cynic by pointing to the time it takes to process claims, deal with challenges and respond to the ever increasing backlog of queries – it is fair to say that government organisations are reticent to increase staffing just because the number of claims increases; so, if we take the first step of a claim out of the hands of the human workforce, that workforce is freed up to spend more time quality assuring, assessing challenges and queries and providing the sound customer service that the clients are so often crying out for. In Helsinki, TrademarkNow is a relatively new start up firm offering a web based trademark management platform that can provide instant trademark search results in as quick as 15 seconds (shaving days off the traditional trademark search methods), provide automated and relevant watch alerts and allow users wider watch capabilities (TrademarkNow 2015).  If you consider the amount of data in existence with regard to trademark and intellectual property – all those companies, all those trademarks, logos and brands – is it any wonder that this area of law has been among the first to see the exploitation of automated systems?  The standard approach to conducting a trademark search is a detailed review of the proposed brand, potential names and whether any other companies exist.  But lawyers will appreciate that it doesn’t end there – we need to consider whether there is any similarity with other brands; after all our clients don’t want to potentially face a claim for passing off simply by virtue of the fact that their customers might mistake the product for another brand altogether.  This is where TrademarkNow gets interesting, because it will go beyond the generic search, beyond even a search for similar names and brands based on phonetics, colour or make up; in the event of a potential match, Trademark now uses AI to review that particular match’s history of defending its brand, producing a risk profile and an analysis of the likelihood that the proposed brand will make it onto the trademark register. Lex Machina is a Stanford based company that offers data analytics tools to lawyers in the field of IP litigation.  Consider a typical approach to litigation – the client comes to you with a claim that another party has infringed their intellectual property rights in whatever product or service they offer to their customers (or, similarly, that another party has accused your client of infringing their intellectual property rights).  You take their information, you use your understanding of commercial law and intellectual property interspersed with research from a handful of cases and you assess the merits of their claim or defence.  Lex Machina toss aside the merits of the claim.  Instead they use data analytics to analyse the behaviour of opposition, counsel and judges across a range factors to provide a forecast result.  Put simply, it has the potential to accurately predict the outcome of a case with a much greater degree of certainty than any human, because it has the time; it has the inclination (that is to say as far as it is possible for a machine to possess such a trait); and it has the ability to analyse huge volumes of data that a lawyer just would not have the time to conduct (unless of course the client is happy to pay them their hourly rate – and then some – to do so).  It has quite aptly been dubbed “Moneyball for Lawyers” (Doherty 2014). I feel that it is necessary again to come back to the worry that AI, in practice, will spell cuts for lawyers.  To the contrary, Anna Ronkainen (the co-founder of TrademarkNow) disagrees with any assertion that AI is only going to add a fifth horseman to the Apocalypse – I’m thinking Lady Justice bursting through the flames on a mighty chariot and striking down lawyers left, right and centre.  Instead, Ronkainen suggests that AI will allow lawyers to focus on more meaningful tasks by eliminating manual work, which brings us back to the point of lowering the cost of the service to clients while at the same time increasing its value (Ronkainen 2015).  She further notes how the UK “is at the global forefront of this development with professional liberalisation initiatives such as Alternative Business Structures…” (Ronkainen 2015). I am largely inclined to agree with Ronkainen.  More to the point, I continue to be excited by the ever changing face of legal technology and I am privileged to work with an organisation that is not only fully prepared to embrace these changes, but is also exploiting the potential that it holds for lawyers and making a conscious effort to dispel the fears that it will reduce the workforce.  To the cynics and the optimists alike, we can only say “watch this space”. Bibliography Altman Weil, Inc. Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey. Prods. Thomas S Clay, & Eric A Seeger. Pennsylvania, 2014. Big Data is Better Data. Directed by TED Salon. Performed by Kenneth Cukier. 2014. Doherty, Sean. “Moneyball for Lawyers.” Law Technology News, April 2014. Georgetown Law. 2015 Report on the State of the Legal Market. Georgetown Law, 2015. Hodson, Hal. “AI Gets Involved with the Law.” New Scientist, 2013: 20. Ronkainen, Anna. “Don’t Rage Against the Machine.” Intellectual Property Magazine, March 2015. Future of Artificial Intelligence and Law. Performed by Richard Susskind. ReInvent Law, 2014. TrademarkNow. TrademarkNow. May 2015. https://www.trademarknow.com/ (accessed May 2015). [1] http://www.reddit.com/r/singularity/comments/2xu2sx/moores_law_2015_mouse_brain_has_been_reached/

Walking with the new legal giants

CodeX FutureLaw Conference 2015: Stanford Law School Karl Chapman, Chief Executive, Riverview Law, 5 May 2015

Being an intruder

In the last few years I’ve led a business in the legal market for the first time; Riverview Law was launched on 20 February 2012. Unsurprisingly perhaps, I’ve often felt like an outsider, an intruder. The language, the behaviours, the myths. The aura surrounding the rule of law, law firms and lawyers. Those real and imaginary barriers carefully constructed over generations. At first I rationalised my feelings as those of the newcomer; with all the advantages and disadvantages that this brings. All I had to do, I thought, was to listen and learn. I’d soon work out what was happening. After all, I’d had similar feelings when we entered the recruitment market in 1989 and the HR Advisory Outsourcing market in 2000. As with law, these were markets in which we had no previous experience before we set up our businesses. We just saw big markets, at change points, with unsatisfied customer demand and a fragmented and undercapitalised supply chain. We saw opportunity that we could hopefully realise by keeping things simple, and by focusing on delivering a great service to customers at a fair price. We were prepared to take calculated risks and back our judgments with capital, energy and experimentation. But this time it is different. Fundamentally so. My time at the excellent CodeX 2015 crystallised why.

Law 3.0

As I relax on a flight back to London, with Pink Floyd’s wonderful ‘Wish you were here’ album stimulating my thoughts, I realise that CodeX has given me some language, much of it pinched from the excellent speakers and delegates (thank you!), to articulate what my colleagues and I have felt for a couple of years. Thoughts that have consciously and unconsciously driven us and Riverview Law forward. Thoughts and themes that now draw together well. The opening address at CodeX was delivered by Professor Oliver Goodenough. His subject was “The State of the Art of Legal Technology Circa 2015.” He gave an overview of legal technology, focusing on the various systemic changes confronting the law and legal practice. However, it was how he described the different technological approaches that the various stakeholders in the legal system have been adopting to respond to these changes that made things click. To make his point he kept it simple, using the now clichéd, but as he rightly said still useful terms of 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. His summary was (and apologies to Oliver if I’ve misquoted him):

  • In Law 1.0 technology empowers the current human players within the current system;
  • In Law 2.0 technology becomes disruptive because it replaces an increasing number of the human players, but again within the current system and operating model; but
  • In Law 3.0 we see a radical re-design and, to a greater or lesser extent, the replacement of the current system with a new system driven by the power of computational technology and new entrants.

The real storm is yet to arrive

Of course, this transition can be applied to any number of other markets; the impact of on-line shopping on retailing, automation in car manufacturing, Uber and airbnb. But there are some catches here for legal, and not just the obvious ones that most incumbents are largely stuck in 1.0, and that many new entrants (particularly the technology companies) are looking to substitute them and deliver Law 3.0 rather than help incumbents become Law 2.0. Many (particularly lawyers) would argue that the legal market is facing something like a perfect storm in the UK following the Legal Services Act 2007, the economic melt-down in 2008, the increasing shift in buying power to the customer and increased competition. But I have always thought that this is a narrow and flawed analysis. Firstly, it confuses regulatory and economic events as the key drivers. In practice the really big themes are that customers have, finally, had enough, and technology is changing the rules of engagement. Put simply, consumers and businesses have paid too much for legal services and there is a crisis in access to justice. Secondly, and most critically, it identifies the wrong date. It wasn’t 2007/2008 that triggered the perfect storm. The seeds for the coming big storm, because today is just a minor shower compared with what happens next, were planted in 1989 when Tim Berners-Lee created the first web browser. The big problem for the legal industry is that it is now having to fight on two fronts, not that many players recognise this. Yes, it is experiencing its own vertical market re-structuring which is driving Law 1.0 to Law 2.0. (about time); and a lot of the legal sector here and in the US is not well positioned to manage this single challenge given the partnership model, weak balance sheets and the culture of law firms. However, and some might say unluckily, at the same time the legal market has to contend with a technology revolution that is profound and which will impact all sectors of the economy. A revolution that has been over 25 years in the making and which saw Time Berners-Lee invent the internet in 1989,  the first commercial web browser in 1993 (Mosaic), the dotcom boom and bust between 1995 and 2000, the creation of Google in 2008 … A revolution that spans big data, through the cloud  to artificial intelligence. To keep things simple, and focusing on its consequences, its output, I’ll describe this revolution as ‘the rise of the knowledge worker’ (see below). Because it is ill prepared, this cocktail of a vertical market change-point with a technology revolution represents a unique challenge for legal incumbents. Even though many incumbents will suffer in all sectors of the economy, other sectors have had a head start when compared with legal. Over the last decade players in other sectors have come to understand real competition and have had to innovate and become agile to succeed. They have invested heavily in technology and automation, whereas legal has not. Most legal technology investment has either been on billing systems, so that six minute units can be recorded accurately, or on IT such as legal practice management systems that attempt to make the existing 1.0 model more efficient.

The rise of the knowledge worker

The technological revolution we’re living through will affect all of us and impact all sectors of the economy and society. Its language includes many current buzz words; big data, the internet of things, expert systems, deep automation, artificial intelligence, blockchains, computational law, the cloud. However, and cutting through the terminology to focus on its practical consequences, one of the key themes in this period will be the rise of the knowledge worker. This is a trend that is as irresistible and as profound as the move from mainframes to PCs, and the impact of mobile and the internet on the way we live and work. The race is on to provide knowledge workers with the tools and virtual assistants that enable them to do a lot of the work today that historically has been done by ‘professionals’, whether they are IT developers, lawyers, HR advisers … etc. We are witnessing the flattening of organisations and the empowering of knowledge workers. We will also see tools put in the hands of customers (whether individuals or businesses) that traditionally were used by professional intermediaries whether in medical, financial, legal or other areas. For example, in the very near future knowledge workers, in any function, who are the subject matter experts and who are closest to the customer and/or business need, will be able to undertake activities that previously required IT departments, change control, IT developers and software houses. Changes that took significant time and cost to deliver; we all have war stories about the difficulty and frustrations of trying to change enterprise wide platforms for even the simplest purposes! Using a legal example as a proxy, imagine that a knowledge worker in a legal team, whose only IT expertise is their ability to use Microsoft Office, can quickly build, maintain and evolve an end-to-end customer, local or complex global workflow and process including: (a)    Instruction management (what legal support, if any, does the individual / business unit actually need?); through (b)   Triage (if legal support is required who should it be undertaken by, internally or externally, given the requirement and its risk, time, cost profile?); to (c)    Case management and document creation (how can the matter be managed consistently, using the right documents and with the appropriate data captured consistently, whoever is doing the work?); and (d)   Reporting and Analytics (how is real time activity published so resource can be managed, and how are trends and data mining undertaken to pre-empt future risk, reduce cost, evolve the operating model?). This redefines the traditional IT and business operating model. It changes the way legal and other functions operate. This model is available today. We already operate this way in Riverview Law by deploying easy to use expert systems, automation, Artificial Intelligence and analytics. Internally we call this the ‘configuration not coding’ revolution; using knowledge workers with easy to use configuration tools to manage day-to-day requirements rather than IT developers with programming skills. Yes, we still need IT programmers. Yes, we still need lawyers and other professionals. But their focus changes. IT programmers help build the tools and platforms that unleash knowledge workers and the business. Lawyers start to play the real added value parts in the legal process. This approach also helps us and our customers address the absolutely critical need for accurate data. In the ‘big (medium or small) data’ debate, if data (content) is king, the ability to properly understand and apply it (context) is the kingdom. Of course, the keys to the kingdom include capturing the data accurately, consistently, and easily in real-time. Which neatly brings us all the way back to workflows and processes which need to be automated and amended easily, quickly and cost-effectively, by knowledge workers, so that they reflect business needs.

Parallel universes

This all partly explains the challenges we sometimes experience at Riverview Law as we engage with the legal industry. With notable exceptions, in particular our conversations with in-house teams and a few legal leaders who ‘get it’, it has felt as if two conversations have been occurring in parallel. On one side are the current legal players (Law 1.0) with their pre-occupation with PEP, lateral hires, international expansion, mergers and, particularly in the US, maintaining the regulatory status quo. Their focus is on using IT to improve their current operating and business model. Their pre-occupation is with Law 1.0 and a desire, on the part of many, to delay Law 2.0. On the other side are the new entrants, including technology companies and businesses like Riverview Law (and some in-house teams), who have brought disciplines, business models and technology from other sectors. These players are focused not just on creating a profitable Law 2.0 platform but also on using this platform to transition quickly to Law 3.0. They, we, use the language of the customer, the culture of one team, and the application of existing and emerging technologies including automation, analytics and computational argumentation to drive quality and improve efficiency. It is no surprise that it is law firms buying law firms (a Law 1.0 Law 2.0 strategy). Why would new entrants or technology companies encumber themselves with legacy when the future requires a different model? It is also no surprise that in-house teams are adopting technology faster than most of the supply chain.

What an opportunity

Of course, for legal there is a big irony in all this. Over many decades the legal market has not been subjected to the same competitive pressures that other sectors of the economy have experienced. Whatever lawyers and law firms may think they have benefitted from protective regulations that enabled excess profits. This, inevitably, injected complacency in many of its incumbents and reduced innovation and creativity. The irony is that the very regulation that protected Law 1.0 firms has also sown the seeds for their substitution as Law 2.0 and, more critically, Law 3.0 models takeover. It would be difficult for many law firms to respond to the emerging competition in the legal vertical anyway, but when this is combined with technology upheaval all bets are off. But this does not mean that there aren’t great opportunities, because there are. It also doesn’t mean that some Law 1.0 players won’t successfully transition to Law 2.0 and Law 3.0, because some will. The legal market is a global market and, as with all markets, there is no silver bullet and there is no one-size-fits-all model that will succeed. Moreover, in England and Wales we have been dealt a good hand by our legislators and regulators. If we can combine the best of our regulatory model with the best of existing and emerging technologies, particularly those coming out of the US, then we are in a good position to dominate the global legal market in the first half of this century. By focusing on Law 3.0 and working with Silicon Valley we can become the new legal giants. What a great time to be a technology-led legal services business. Thank you CodeX, I will be back.

Riverview Law to award up to 10 training contracts in 2015

Riverview Law, the fixed-priced legal services business, has opened applications for its 2015 solicitor training scheme, in which up to 10 training contracts will be awarded to current members of staff. This is the second year the business will be offering training contracts since becoming an ABS in 2014 with seven being awarded last year. Director of Legal Services, Steven Zdolyny, said Riverview is committed to training employees throughout all areas of the business: ‘As we continue to grow and win business with global corporations it is important we recruit, develop and progress the talent within Riverview Law. By offering opportunities such as training contracts to existing members of the Riverview team we are ensuring that the candidates embody the Riverview Law values and culture.’ Steven continued by saying: ‘It’s been a pleasure to see the individuals who were awarded the first training contracts in 2014 grow and develop so much since September. I am proud to be working in a business where we nurture talent across the board whether that be through training contracts, apprenticeships or other training routes.’ The successful applicants will begin their training contracts on 28th September 2015. Anyone interested in a career at Riverview Law can find out more via the careers page on their website here.

Jeremy Clarkson – sacked by the BBC – tips for dealing with misconduct in the workplace

Jeremy Clarkson’s sacking by the BBC this week has caused a divide in public opinion. Did Director General Tony Hall act correctly when he sacked one of the BBC’s most successful presenters or was he left with no other option? Public opinion is one thing, but Tony Hall will have had to consider the duty of care the BBC owes to its staff and the BBC’s internal procedures for dealing with such issues. Employers are often faced with a similar question when a member of staff ‘crosses a line’ as Tony Hall described Mr Clarkson’s alleged attack on a work colleague. Employers have a duty of care towards staff and if action is required to be taken as a result of misconduct, employers have to navigate a range of employment regulations to ensure a fair procedure is followed and to avoid potential litigation. Jeremy Clarkson is likely to have been self-employed and as such it appears the BBC has followed its internal procedures and confirmed that the popular TV host’s contract would not be renewed. Many businesses have to deal with disciplinary issues regarding their employees – the procedures for dealing with employee misconduct issues can be more complex than when dealing with self-employed individuals, as employees are afforded additional employment law protection. We’ve considered some top tips on how to deal with employee disciplinary issues in the workplace.

Top tips

Follow a road map – once you become aware of a disciplinary issue, take some time to prepare your approach. Familiarise yourself with your company disciplinary policies and follow them. Refer to the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. Consider whether there have been any similar cases in the past whereby a precedent has been set. Consider who is in the driving seat – Designate roles within the process at the outset so that the right people are involved at each stage to conduct investigations, hearings and appeals. Ideally, to ensure impartiality, you should have a different senior member of staff conduct each stage in the process. Don’t stall – it’s essential that disciplinary issues are dealt with promptly. This is particularly the case when you are dealing with a potential gross misconduct issue. Consider whether suspension of the employee is necessary. Be aware of your reaction times – a disciplinary process can take many twists and turns. New information or evidence may come to light at any point in the process. Make sure you react to new information and be prepared to conduct further investigations if necessary, before moving onto the next stage in the process. Complete a log book – you should record all stages in the process and all evidence that you have relied upon should be documented. If the case did result in an Employment Tribunal claim being made against your company you will need to demonstrate that a decision to dismiss was fair. Often Employment Tribunal cases will not be heard until over a year after the event. Memories fade and witnesses may have left the business. Consider documenting the decision making process and outline what factors impacted the decision to dismiss. Get underneath the bonnet – Don’t pre judge the case. Listen impartially to the employee and any witnesses. Fully consider the factual evidence before you prior to making a decision. An Employment Tribunal could deem a dismissal to be unfair if they determine that the dismissal was pre-determined.   The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures has recently been revised. You can see a copy of the revised version here.  

Proposed Increase in Court Fees: A deterrent to spurious claims or a barrier to justice?

Every Claimant, who issues legal proceedings through the court system, is required to pay a court issue fee (this also applies to Defendants who issue a counterclaim). The issue fee payable is directly linked to the sum claimed. Following a consultation in December 2013, on proposals to increase court fees in a number of areas, the Ministry of Justice has recently announced it will increase issue fees for money claims from 9 March 2015. The fee increases for money claims means:

  • The fee for claims from £1 – £9,999 will remain unchanged;
  • The fee for claims from £10,000 – £199,999 will be five per cent of the claim;
  • The fee for claims for £200,000 and above will be fixed at £10,000; and
  • There will be a 10 per cent discount on fees for claims from £10,000 – £99,999 filed electronically.

The proposed increase in court fees has sparked much debate. The table below gives an idea of the percentage by which some court issue fees will increase. In some instances, the court issue fee will rise by over 600%.

Value of claim £ Fee now £ (paper) New fee £ Increase in fee £ % increase
20,000 610 1,000 390 64%
40,000 610 2,000 1,390 228%
90,000 910 4,500 3,590 395%
150,000 1,315 7,500 6,185 470%
190,000 1,315 9,500 8,185 622%
200,000 1,515 10,000 8,725 576%
250,000 1,720 10,000 8,280 481%

  The reasoning behind the proposed increases The Ministry of Justice hope to generate £120 million annually from the proposed increased court fees, as there is an argument that people using the court system do not currently pay for the full service they receive. The deficit last year was around £100 million. Accordingly, the government has taken the view that the courts cannot be immune from tough decisions in order to bring public spending in line with what they can afford. The government has explained that its proposals to increase court fees will not affect those bringing a small claim i.e. a claim under £10,000. Instead it will only affect claimants issuing claims for large monetary sums who will require a more extensive service from the court. There is also an argument that increasing the court fees will act as a deterrent to those bringing a spurious/unfounded claim, and will ensure that claimants properly consider the merits of their claim before taking the decision to issue legal proceedings. On that basis, the government has argued that it does not envisage a decrease in genuine claims. Opposition to the proposed increase in fees The Law Society has issued a pre-action protocol letter for judicial review to challenge the government’s decision to increase court fees by such a significant amount. The Law Society has argued that a substantial proportion of civil litigation should be funded by the public purse rather than wholly by the litigants themselves, as it is in the interests of the civilised society in which we live for litigants to seek redress through the court system rather than ‘take matters into their own hands’. In addition, the Law Society has questioned how the government will utilise the increased revenue and, if there is to be a major investment into the court system, queried whether this should actually lead to a decrease in court fees moving forward. The issue has sparked a lively debate in the House of Lords. One speaker has pointed out that the imposition of substantial fees has led to an 80% reduction in employment appeal tribunal applications and a 90% reduction in sex discrimination cases. The concern is that civil claims will follow this pattern and that claimants with legitimate claims will no longer be able to afford to seek recourse through the justice system. Watch this space… The debate as to whether the increase in court fees will act as a deterrent to spurious claims or as a barrier to justice looks set to continue. The court fees will increase on 9 March 2015. However, with this change comes fierce opposition. We will have to watch this space to see how this issue is resolved.  

Legal Efficiency Report as seen in The Times – Case Study on Riverview Law & University of Liverpool

Further to recent announcements regarding technology and Artificial Intelligence, Riverview Law and the University of Liverpool are featured in a case study on page 4 of the Raconteur Legal Efficiency Report published in The Times. The below is originally from the ‘Legal Efficiency Report’ published by Raconteur Media on 19th February 2015 in The Times. The Agent Applications, Research and Technology (Agent ART) Group at Liverpool University is a leading centre of pure and applied research in autonomous agents and multi-agent systems. In everyday English, this is the science underpinning the development of robots, either real or virtual, capable of making their own decisions in complex situations, including conflicts with other robots. This is a field at the cutting edge of information technology. At first sight the Agent ART Group appears to have little in common with Riverview Law, a new-style legal business set up in Liverpool in 2010, which has DLA  Piper as a minority shareholder, and provides legal advisory outsourcing and technology solutions to in-house legal functions of large corporations. Last month, however, the firm announced it had set up a “knowledge transfer partnership” with the University of Liverpool to find ways of developing the university’s artificial intelligence (AI) expertise in the legal field. The firm says the partnership will enable it to apply a range of leading-edge computer science expertise in areas such as text processing, network analysis, computational argumentation and data mining. “A primary objective of this project is to automate some of the cognitive abilities of knowledge workers to provide organisations with intelligent decision support tools,” Agent ART says. The hope is to create artificial intelligence software capable of automating routine legal tasks, speeding up and cutting the price of services. In particular, the firm is working with Katie Atkinson, reader in the Agent ART Group of the university’s Department of Computer Science. She describes her research as concerning “computational models of argument, with a particular focus on persuasive argumentation in practical reasoning and how this can be applied in domains such as e-democracy, law and agent systems”. Dr Atkinson says it is a good fit. “We are delighted to be working with such an innovative company as Riverview Law. From our first meeting we were struck by the commitment its team has to the application of technology, not only in its own business, but also in the way it delivers services to its global customers. Meetings with those customers and the wider Riverview Law team simply confirmed our desire to work with them and show how we can commercialise our research,” she says. Karl Chapman, chief executive of Riverview Law, comments: “Over the last 18 months, as we developed our thinking in the AI and expert systems field, we were delighted to find such relevant world-class expertise on our doorstep – North-West England really is becoming the centre of the legal universe. We are very focused on providing expert systems and tools that support knowledge work, and the way AI and such systems can help our teams and our customers make quicker and better decisions.” Read the full report here.

Sketching the Future – Axiom, Valorem, Riverview, LegalZoom: Is this the New Model?

The below article written by Kelly M. Brown, Director of Client Relations, Morrison & Foerster LLP and Andy Daws, Vice President, North America, was published in the October edition of the Thomson Reuters Practice Innovations newsletter. To view the article online please click here.  

Sketching the Future – Axiom, Valorem, Riverview, LegalZoom: Is this the New Model?

The legal industry is facing a perfect storm, as the forces of globalization, technological innovation, and liberalization converge on an industry that has remained largely unchanged for decades. Change creates great opportunity, but it also poses great risk to those who do not remain fleet of foot. As we assessed the competitive forces facing Big Law in the global market for corporate legal services (see Figure 1) and the related changes taking place, we thought it would be interesting to explore from our respective demographics of New Law and Big Law and the UK and U.S. what might be the next wave of radical change in the industry, or the Next Normal.

The Experiment

To explore the Next Normal, we used scenario decision strategy. Broadly speaking, this methodology involves identifying key uncertainties facing an industry and selecting two central uncertainties to build a matrix of four possible future worlds that explore potential paths of continued market evolution. Scenario decision strategy goes beyond traditional strategic planning approaches by incorporating uncertainty and complexity into the model to simultaneously examine how different uncertainties might interact under a variety of assumptions.

We derived the content for our analysis from key uncertainties identified by one of the co-authors in a research study for the Mack Institute for Innovation Management at the Wharton School (see Sidebar: Top 10 Key Uncertainties). The full research study includes a detailed description of the scenario planning methodology and the forces, trends, and key uncertainties uncovered in the research, including results from an in-house counsel focus group assembled for the study.

For our experiment, we chose the following two key uncertainties: the pace of globalization (including its impact on liberalization in the U.S. legal market), and the pace at which clients adopt or switch to alternative technology-focused options that replace traditional legal service delivery models. We used these to build a matrix of four possible snapshots of the global market for corporate legal services in the year 2030 (Figure 2). Given the space constraints of an article of this nature, we zeroed in on one of the four scenarios to sketch: Scenario B (Law Networked), produced at the upper extremes and marked by an increasingly interconnected global economy and clients who willingly switch from traditional legal service delivery models to those built on emerging technologies.

Next, we perch ourselves in the year 2030 and offer some general observations on how the industry could unfold under Scenario B and the potential strategic implications for New Law and Big Law. But remember, this is a speculative exercise, so don’t cast too many aspersions! It’s also meant to be provocative—scenario decision strategy is designed to stretch the imagination, push people past their comfort zones, and challenge deeply held beliefs and existing business models. When built on solid industry analysis and research on key trends and uncertainties, it’s a powerful strategic planning tool that can help companies avoid stumbling in the face of disruptive change.

Sketching the Future (2030): Law Networked

Now we’re in 2030 and the era of Law Networked. Most would agree that for much of its history, the legal industry had been a very conservative one, its participants long-protected from external pressures toward competition or change. Some even argued that was a good thing. But over the last 15+ years, the industry has experienced firsthand that in a world in which open-market values are increasingly prized, and advancements in technology swift, the barriers to outside competition can quickly erode, and in dramatic fashion.

Over the last couple of decades, regulation of legal services was a proverbial hot potato, and many were adamant that the U.S. would never succumb to federal regulation or nonlawyer ownership of law firms. Understandably, there was a lot at stake. But in an increasingly globalized marketplace, it became very difficult for the U.S. legal industry to remain immune to the trend toward liberalization seen first in Australia, then Europe (UK, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Greece), followed by some Asian countries that also started to loosen their regulatory belts.

The formation of an International Network of Legal Regulators in 2012 was an early indicator that such matters could not remain isolated from an increasingly interconnected global economy. Pressure mounted from foreign competition, access to justice lobbyists, and “regulatory convergence” via the mega-regional trade agreements. As more and more countries echoed the mantra of the UK’s Legal Services Act to “promote competition, innovation, and the public and consumer interest” in legal services, in the immortal words of Star Trek’s Borg, resistance was futile!

Ultimately, just as we saw happen in Europe, when the so-called Troika (the triumvirate consisting of the IMF, ECB, and EU) used its clout to remove anticompetitive legal regulation as an economic stimulus, political pressure was brought to bear on those who stubbornly refused to accept that this was a debate that extended well beyond the boundaries of our profession. Long after the first of the Canadian provinces, Ontario, led the way in North America, the U.S. finally succumbed. By now, jurisdiction has ceased to be anywhere near as important an issue as it used to be, and the power wielded by many U.S. firms, and even regions, is long gone.

Which leads us arguably to an even more provocative aspect of this scenario, that of technology. It proved to be an enormous irony, that while numerous bar associations and countless lawyers expended their energy kicking the metaphorical ball of nonlawyer ownership around, the game moved to an entirely different pitch. What the U.S. lacked by way of regulatory stimulus toward competition and innovation fifteen years ago, it more than made up for with an impressive raft of technology-based start-ups. Over the last fifteen years, investment in legal technology has grown from the half billion over a decade ago to numbers that now boggle the mind.

Relying on human brainpower, professional services had been relatively immune from the wholesale disruption that technology had wrought on other industries such as retail, travel, publishing, and music. But what began as an interesting foray into the world of e-discovery, rapidly moved on to embrace emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, and Machine-to-Machine. Over the last fifteen years, we’ve witnessed Cognitive AI outperforming doctors in many applications, and “Robolawyer” has become a reality after IBM’s Watson passed a multistate bar exam back in 2020.

We are now in a technology era in which computers are able to do most of what lawyers could do 15 years ago, and do it better, faster, and cheaper! And given that these technological capabilities, which were once only a pipedream, are now a commercial reality, clients have become exceedingly willing to switch from traditional legal service providers to alternative technology-focused providers. The technology train left the station years ago, and it turns out that it doesn’t have brakes!

New Law

So, what of New Law in this brave new world? Well just over a decade ago, we saw in Clearspire the coming and going of what was then a New Law poster child. As Clayton Christensen has observed, the innovators of one era soon become tomorrow’s incumbents and face the same possibilities of disruption, so those service providers that the industry categorized as New Law in 2014 had to respond aggressively to the even more radical changes they perceived were forthcoming. Still, a number in New Law did ultimately go the way of Clearspire.

But those that grew in prominence after the Great Recession using technology as a key part of their platform still remain, and a handful of the early flag bearers can be found within their networks. Years ago, these players already had their sights firmly set on the future, even while we were calling them the disrupters. Accordingly, they started to raise substantial amounts of outside investment to build out the technological capabilities they perceived they would need to thrive in the ensuing decade. In fact, Riverview Law was already talking about reinvention only two years after its founding (Riverview Law: Applying Business Sense to the Legal Market)! Now in 2030, it has fully moved from a services business enabled by technology, to a technology-led patent-protected business that provides services.

There’s no denying that the inexorable march of globalization, liberalization, and technology adoption has played to New Law’s strengths and many such firms have exercised their commercial nous and deep pockets to create substantial differentiation and competitive advantage. These service providers have become the networked hub for clients, often serving as an extension of clients’ in-house teams, and working with a variety of other providers to streamline service delivery across the globe with a suite of customer-focused “productized” service solutions.

Big Law

Where does this leave Big Law? It turns out that many traditional law firms were able to weather the post-recession first wave of New Law better than many had predicted. A number of the advances in technology served to complement existing practices rather than supplant them. For example, various firms now find that they are uniquely positioned to leverage the depth and breadth of their expertise to employ AI technology at levels that are unmatched by many in New Law. Those law firms with highly specialized, “bet-the-company” litigation practices also emerged as winners.

But the New Law providers of today are proving to be more formidable competitors than those of 15 years ago. Big Law is finding it increasingly difficult to compete with the “reinvented versions” of the New Law rivals who have spent the last fifteen years building out their innovation capabilities, supported by ever increasing levels of outside investment. That investment has turned a number of New Law providers into “mega” firms, but not necessarily mega in size. Instead, it’s about tech-enabled capabilities that expand global reach, depth of knowledge, and the ability to deliver timely expertise in minutes. Many traditional law firms, on the other hand, weren’t able to take the required hit to PPP and make the investments necessary to strategically position themselves for the new legal landscape that has become increasingly tech-focused. And stunning advances in technology have even paved the way for New Law to eat into some of the high-end, bet-the-company litigation work that was once the exclusive domain of Big Law.

Liberalization introduced another rising competitor: elite accounting firms. Several accounting firms restructured as ABSs in the UK years ago and started to rebuild and expand their legal service capabilities. Since then, the increasingly interconnected global economy, and the resulting diminished importance placed on jurisdiction, has positioned elite accounting firms to compete head-on with elite law firms across the globe that remain. These competitors to Big Law have combined their business and legal acumen with the client-oriented strategies they are known for to deliver differentiated legal solutions that are tightly integrated with business solutions. They have also used their deep pockets to acquire the technology needed to keep from falling too far behind New Law.

The Next Normal?

This scenario raises many challenging questions for our industry (and many others, too, of course). Where will the present course of globalization and regulatory convergence ultimately end? What threats and opportunities does it present for providers and educators? How prepared are the regulators to deal with autonomous robotic agents delivering legal advice, and who is liable when something goes wrong? Will these technologies be available to traditional law firms, or will they be completely disintermediated? If the former, how will firms afford them, and if the latter, how many of these firms will survive and what will they look like?

Clearly, nobody can predict what today’s New Law or Big Law will look like fifteen years from now. And in some sense, New Law is no different from any of the current incumbents, in that it will need to continue to reinvent itself. Some current New Law success stories will become tomorrow’s failed experiments and some of tomorrow’s successes are likely to come from the most unlikely of quarters (for further thoughts, see Repackage the Future of Law). But a customer-centric commercial approach combined with an ability (capital and company DNA) to build innovation capabilities can help weather the storms of globalization and technological advancement. The smart players won’t be resting on their laurels, because when all is said and done, the Next Normal increasingly looks like a journey rather than a destination.

Sources

  1. Andrew Benedict-Nelson and Andy Daws, “Repackage the Future of Law,” Insight Labs (November 2013), online at:http://www.theinsightlabs.org/research/repackage-the-future-of-law/.
  2. Kelly M. Brown, “Enter the Disrupters: How New Law Firm Rivals are Disrupting the Market for High-end Legal Services in the U.S.,” MBA research fellowship, Mack Institute for Innovation Management (the Wharton School) (May 2014), online at:http://mackinstitute.wharton.upenn.edu/students/mba-research-fellowships/mba-research-fellowship-papers-2/.
  3. Clayton M. Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (1997).
  4. George S. Day and Paul J.H. Schoemaker, Wharton on Managing Emerging Technologies (2000) (see Chapter 10, “Scenario Planning for Disruptive Technologies”).
  5. Heidi K. Gardner and Silvia Hodges Silverstein, “Riverview Law: Applying Business Sense to the Legal Market,” Harvard Business School Case Study (June 2014), online at:http://hbr.org/product/Riverview-Law–Applying-B/an/414079-PDF-ENG.
  6. Michael E. Porter, Competitive Advantage (1985).

Legal Apprentice anniversary

Congratulations to Anya McDonnell, Riverview Law’s first Legal Apprentice, who has successfully completed the first year of her apprenticeship. Over the past 12 months Anya has been completing a Legal Administration unit and she will start CiLEx Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship on October 2nd. Anya is Riverview Law’s first Legal Apprentice and you can learn more about her role and what being a Legal Apprentice entails here.

When Riverview Law met Brian Pike – Diary of an Intern

This summer Brian Pike spent a month doing an internship at Riverview Law. We asked Brian to sum up his time with us.

From the moment I stepped in the door, I could sense the energy at Riverview that I had followed throughout the past year.  The open-office floor plan buzzed with activity.  The company values and mission statement are placed throughout the office in visually appealing locations.  “Changing the way organisations use, measure and buy legal services” and “Legal input, Business output” catch your eye as you enter the room.  The office is lit primarily by natural light from large pane windows that cover three-fourths of the walls.  I had finally arrived inside the ABS I had read so much about. My relationship with Riverview began with admiration in the summer of 2013 at MSU’s 21st Century Legal Practice program in London.  One of the classes I attended focused on design thinking in the legal profession.  As part of the course, we read a case study on Riverview. I became extremely interested in not only the work Riverview was doing, but their approach.  Having studied business management in my undergraduate years, Riverview’s focus on applying business principles to law intrigued me. As part of our design course, we were encouraged to begin building a professional online presence.  Prior to arriving in London, I had never used Twitter significantly.  We learned that Twitter can be an extremely useful tool to engage companies, find like-minded professionals, share articles, and start building a professional network. I reached out to Riverview and began one of several conversations discussing the possibility of creating an international internship experience.  Every interaction I had with Riverview over the next year added to the professionalism and customer service I had previously read about.  By simply asking to speak with someone about an opportunity, Riverview responded warmly: Brian Pike 1     Riverview and I worked together to navigate the visa requirements, and they helped me arrange all aspects of my accommodation. Everyone began filtering in for the day, talking about their weekends and discussing the workweek ahead.  Staff are seated in team-locations with several free “hot seats.”  For example, Karl Chapman, the CEO, always changes his seating location in the office.  On the opposite side of the building are six meeting rooms labeled after the company values: individual, enthusiastic, inquisitive, professional, positive, and one team.  Inside these rooms the teams meet to discuss best practices, project status, or work privately. Everyone took the time to stop in and say hello and ask me a question (or three) about America.  Each person at Riverview has their own coffee cup with their name and a large heart on the back.  Below this heart is something that each person loves, and it provides an easy way for someone new to start a conversation. In the month I worked at Riverview, I spent each week working with a different FTSE 100 customer team.  During this time, I learned how each team operated, shadowed members, participated in meetings, and performed work as a member of the team.  Each week began as a new learning experience, and team members always pulled me in to answer my questions and show me their work. Riverview is a company that prides itself on process.  These processes are part of the company’s competitive advantage and what it offers its customers, and I saw the benefits.  Not only do Riverview’s processes help the company itself learn and grow, but this learning experience is shared with the customer.  Both the customer and Riverview work together to discover creative solutions to problems they both encounter. These processes help drive Riverview’s ability to provide deep management information and data to its customers.  Due to barriers lifted under the Legal Services Act of 2007 for ABS firms, Riverview has been able to heavily invest in its technology platform.  This platform is incredibly process driven and continues to grow to meet the team and customer needs.  One of the most incredible moments I experienced with Riverview occurred in a meeting with Karl Chapman.  Karl showed me the power of this management information.  Capturing hundreds of data points allows Riverview to equip its General Counsel customers with the ability to track trends from the legal department.  The simple phrase “Legal input, Business output” effectively captures a sophisticated investment in technology and demonstrates Riverview’s ability to respond and grow to client demands. The team atmosphere is amplified by the ability for any member of Riverview to add their constructive feedback.  Each person’s perspective is respected and valued.  Nearly every person I spoke with had a story about how they encountered a problem or found a creative solution and described to me how comfortable they felt sharing this information to create a better process.  The company values truly shine in the way team members perform and feel about their work.  

  • Individual.  Everyone I encountered at Riverview enjoyed talking about their interests, passions, and life outside of work.  In fact, the culture at Riverview supports their individuality and has allowed its employees to expand their roles to meet their areas of interest.
  • Enthusiastic. Trying new things and embracing change are embedded in the DNA of Riverview.  The company has experienced tremendous growth and I spoke with team members who discussed how their agility and ability to communicate in a team setting and challenge the way their creative process has contributed to the success Riverview has enjoyed.
  • Inquisitive. Riverview’s employees are encouraged to learn more about their customers in all aspects, including how the customer operates internally.  Fostering an inquisitive atmosphere has allowed Riverview’s team to provide valuable input on their work.
  • Professional. While with Riverview, I observed how each team member made themselves available to help others, or even other teams.  With Riverview positioning itself as a partner with its clients, this familiarity has bred strong relationships and that trust has turned into other work streams.
  • Positive. In every meeting or team interaction I observed, each of Riverview’s employees had their input taken into account.  In speaking with all members of each team, everyone had a strong sense of their role on the team and how they contribute to the process and the end-product.
  • One Team. “While we are individuals we know that when we work as a team there is no limit to what we can achieve!”  I believe that this statement best captures the totality of the enthusiasm and type of work that Riverview is performing.  Building processes that adopt its user’s best practices and partnering with the client epitomizes Riverview’s mission.  And I think the results are speaking for themselves.

The bad parts about my experience?  I played a terrible game of pool and was 7-balled by one of my new friends on the table available in the break room.  As part of an informal tradition, I agreed to send an e-mail apologizing for my horrible skills to the office.   Brian Pike 2   Oh, and also trying to resist the free ice cream.   Brian Pike 3  

Legal IT: lions led by donkeys ?

Almost a year ago I wrote about my reflections as a guest speaker at LegalWeek’s annual Strategic Technology Forum, held in the hills of rural Italy, around an hour from Rome. A tough job, but somebody had to do it, so I gathered my postage stamp’s worth of technical IT knowledge and off I went, hoping not to be found out. I had an enjoyable and extremely informative couple of days in the company of a close-knit group of professionals who were saddled with the task of delivering IT solutions to more disparate groups of another kind of profession- lawyers. What an eye-opener that was. I had always marvelled at the ability of lawyers to look down on “nons” (whether non-lawyers, non-fee earners or non-partners) but to spend time in the company of people with in-depth knowledge of complex systems whose time was spent ensuring that the partners of their firms were able to bring in whatever new IT-trinket they had acquired and use it on the firms’ networks immediately was not only extraordinary, it was confirmation that the time had come for a radically different approach to teamwork in the professional services environment. I left refreshed and invigorated, with the knowledge that there was a lot to play for in this market. I was flattered and somewhat surprised to be invited back to this year’s event. My IT expertise had not developed in the intervening period and I had already shared my full and frank views of the legal market with my new friends in the legal IT community, but apparently they were keen for more and had lined up a panel of law firm Partners for me to spar with on Day 1 of the conference- I couldn’t resist the challenge (or another couple of days in the Italian sun). Given the tremendous developments in legal technology- driven, as ever, by VC-fuelled startups on the West Coast of the US, I was expecting a shift in the focus of the event, with the participants starting to flex their technical muscle and demonstrate the value of their skills to their lawyer colleagues (or should I say masters ?). Last year we saw tantalising glimpses of real innovation- smart e-disclosure, document automation, predictive litigation outcomes being examples- so how would things look one year on ? In a word ? Unchanged. The overwhelming impression given by the participants yet again was of a group of people who not only have the will to grasp new opportunities and help their firms to innovate, they have the skills, contacts and knowledge to deliver technology-driven change. And what do they face ? Well, perhaps the question asked in one session on legal project management- “have any firms here brought in non-lawyer project managers ?”- says it all (I don’t believe that any hands were raised, by the way). Time and time again the story was of technology-driven initiatives being stymied by a combination of a lack of basic IT capability on the part of lawyers and refusal to invest for the long-term. From a selfish point of view, of course, this was music to my ears, made sweeter by the opening statement of one of my fellow panelists, the former Senior Partner of a large international firm, that they were focussed on “crushing Riverview at birth”. Validation indeed ! Last year I had spent most of my time explaining who we were and what we did. This year everybody knew. So what are my main reflections after another lovely few days of sun, pasta and a few glasses of Grappa ? I continue to be impressed with the quality of the people delivering IT solutions to lawyers, both on a professional and a personal level. They are a great bunch, and I feel honoured to have been accepted as a semi-official hanger-on. But they deserve so much more from their lawyer colleagues. They are ground down by their operating environment, delivering innovation focussed on their bosses rather than their customers. Improving billing systems, navigating the regulatory minefield of cloud-based document collaboration and servicing the ever-increasing “Bring your own” demands of lawyers are not going to achieve the sort of radical change that their firms’ customers demand. Meanwhile, emerging technologies and market disrupters (never was a market so open to disruption) loom large on the horizon, reminding us all of earlier residents of this part of Italy, those whose skills on the violin outweighed their ability to fight fires.

Evolution, Revolution (or Extinction) commentary of the Modern Law conference by Richard Moorhead

Richard Moorhead states in his commentary of the Modern Law conference in April 2014 ‘Karl Chapman spends 10% of his time on this question – what does the next Riverview Law look like. He will not be alone but he probably will be unusual.’ To read the full commentary entitled ‘Evolution, Revolution (or Extinction)’ on his Lawyer Watch blog click here.

Our approach to recruitment

Karl Chapman, CEO, wrote the below article for The Law Society Gazette in relation to how Riverview Law approach recruitment.

Riverview: our recruitment approach

I should be fired if we’re still recruiting a lot of senior lawyers in five to seven years. In the next five to seven years it will be a great disappointment if Riverview Law is still recruiting many senior lawyers. Other than in exceptional circumstances, relating either to the need to have a specific high-level technical or sector expertise or because our growth rates are so strong that our vacancies outpace our internal talent pool, we will be doing everything we can to promote internally and to back-fill at junior levels. Our future leaders are to be found in our business Today 43% of Riverview’s team are qualified lawyers. Their experience ranges from newly qualified through to those who have been GCs at large businesses and who have over 20 years’ experience. Our people have experience in-house and with law firms of all sizes from regional firms to the magic circle. Another 23% of the team are paralegals. Overall, 59% of the team are women. Over the last two years we have, as you’d expect with a new business, recruited a lot of senior personnel. In the next two years we will recruit additional senior personnel as we continue to grow significantly. However if we, the Riverview Law management team, have done our job properly in the next five to seven years we should not need to recruit many senior lawyers or other senior staff. If we recruit (and have recruited!), induct and develop our people properly, it is from this rich and ‘Riverview Ready’ pool of talent that our future leaders and senior managers will come. This is why we have a very simple recruitment rule. No external vacancy is advertised without first considering whether the role can be filled internally. If it can be filled internally it will be and the role vacated will be back-filled. We promote our people and we replace them with junior people who in time will be candidates for promotion as they demonstrate both their abilities and their fit with our culture and values. This cultural fit is critical and its importance cannot be stressed enough. You can have the best people, processes and systems in the world but if these are not underpinned by the right culture a business will not fulfil its potential and it will not be sustainable. This is why we have such a focus on our ‘Moments of Truth’ programme and our ‘Legal input. Business output.’ strapline. Ensuring cultural fit is another reason why it makes sound business sense to follow a ‘grow-our-own’ strategy. In our customers’ interests The logic behind the above strategy is not radical or revolutionary. Like much in Riverview Law it reflects the deployment of proven and common sense business principles from other sectors. It’s a philosophy that comes from building businesses that are great places to work, that deliver excellent and high-quality services to customers and that provide clear career prospects and development paths for team members – whether, for example, they are IT developers, finance staff, client managers, paralegals or lawyers. It’s a philosophy focused on building long-term sustainability for all our stakeholders from customers to team members. If you have a business like ours which is predicated on long-term contracts with blue chip customers and high contract renewal rates, you know that you don’t achieve high renewal rates unless you have talented people, delivering quality services with low staff turnover. Which is why, with our fixed-price model, our lawyers have no billable hours targets and a better work-life balance. In this context having an objective of not recruiting senior lawyers in five to seven years makes sound business sense. Indeed, it’s in the interests of our customers, our people and our shareholders that we grow-our-own talent and future leaders. This strategy drives consistency, quality and sustainability. It provides customers with confidence to contract with us on a long-term basis. As a business model ‘grow-your-own’ makes far more sense than lateral hires. Lateral hires is a ‘growth strategy’ that highlights the flaws in the traditional law firm model. We’re interested in what our recruits can add to Riverview not what following they may or may not have. Why would we subject ourselves to the risks and high costs of lateral hires when we can adopt a more effective and lower risk ‘grow-your-own’ strategy? Young people In parallel with recruiting more senior people in the next two years we are strongly committed to young people. This is why we will be offering training contracts. This is why we’re running apprenticeship programmes. We are very happy to recruit the right people with the right attitude from school, college, university, their first job… . Yes, for all the reasons stated above, it makes sound business sense to do this. But it is also the right thing to do. It is sad that there is an over-supply of young people with legal qualifications. The legal training and development infrastructure has largely failed a generation. Pleasingly things are changing. As an alternative route into the law a young person can now avoid the expense of a degree and then law school. They can join from school or college and become a qualified lawyer by a similar age yet have no debt but much work experience. This will be a growing entry route and will widen access to individuals who would not typically have been able to pursue a legal career. Making mistakes Do we get our recruitment, induction and development processes right every time? Of course not. Do we have a lot to do? Yes. However, as a board we have a great commitment to growing our own people and giving them worthwhile and enjoyable careers whatever their roles and however they join us. One of the biggest mistakes I can make as chief executive and our board can make as a team is not having a strategy to grow and develop our own talent. If I make that mistake I will resign before I am rightly fired!

Riverview Law to launch training contracts and apprenticeships

In interviews with Lawyer 2B and Legal Cheek, Karl Chapman, CEO at Riverview Law, said: “Five, six or seven years down the line it would be disappointing if we had to recruit senior lawyers, aside from in exceptional circumstances for very talented individuals. We are recruiting a range of people – from senior lawyers to school leavers – now, and some of those should be running the firm in the next five or so years.” For the full article with Lawyer 2B click here. For the full article in Legal Cheek click here.

Riverview Law shortlisted for ‘Best Emerging Firm’ at MPF awards 2014

We are delighted to have been shortlisted for ‘Best Emerging Firm’ at the 2014 Managing Partners Forum Awards for Management Excellence in association with The Harvard Business ReviewThe Financial Times and Google Enterprise. We were delighted to have won this award in 2013 and are thrilled to have been shortlisted again this year.

The Riverview Law DNA and Model

At the end of a visit to our Wirral Service Delivery Centre, a General Counsel commented: “I now understand how you do it. I must admit that I was sceptical. I didn’t think you could possibly do it in scale and across a range of areas. I know you explained your model when we met but it took this visit, and meeting your people, to make me realise the art of the possible. We will do business.” We were pleased. He then added: “But you must think of a better way of explaining your outsourcing model when you go to people’s offices. I don’t know how you do it but your current approach needs work. Get them here and they’ll buy. Your challenge is to get them here.” He was right! So, during the second half of 2013 we set-up a team to find a better way to explain what we do, how we do it and how it benefits customers. What started off as a simple project – improve our presentations – turned into a much bigger project. This project has seen us completely re-map our business and, with the benefit of some excellent graphic designers, change how we explain what we do both internally and externally. The ‘Riverview Law DNA and Model’ is our new top level navigation map that we now use to explain our business and services to potential customers, recruits, business partners, suppliers and other stakeholders. Behind each of the stations on this map are other maps specific to that topic plus supporting videos, slides and other content. As you will see, it allows the people we are talking with to drive the presentation, dipping into the areas in the order they want to rather than in a linear format driven by Powerpoint. We hope that this navigation map gives you a flavour of why we are different. (NB This is our headline navigation map. Because the maps and content that sit behind it are commercially sensitive and confidential, none of the stations on this map have been enabled. As a result you cannot access the content that sits behind each station. We are, of course, happy to share this content with you during a meeting and/or when you visit).  

Riverview Law to sponsor award at the University of Law

We are delighted to announce that we will be sponsoring an award at the Chester branch of the University of Law in 2014. The ‘Riverview Law Exceptional Achievement Award LL.B’ will be awarded to the highest scoring individual on the LL.B, at Chester, and the winner will be offered a week of work experience at Riverview Law. Karl Chapman, CEO of Riverview Law, said ‘We are pleased to be sponsoring this award and delighted to be working with the University of Law. We are committed to creating career opportunities in the legal market and this is part of our investment in young people.’

The next generation: there is hope!

I and my colleagues speak at quite a few events. We enjoy it, and it’s a very good way of meeting people and discussing different ways of delivering legal services (particularly our ways!). Having said that, some events are better than others and I’m sure that we have all sat through a few lengthy low-energy sessions which fall somewhat short of their initial promise, despite a hefty price tag and heavyweight speakers – CPD points and forty winks anybody? In November, I was invited by the UCL Law Society to take part in a panel discussion entitled “The Future of the Legal Profession”. A weighty topic and pretty relevant to a group of people who were intending to embark upon a career in law at a time of unprecedented change in the market and great uncertainty for new entrants. This was not an audience after CPD points but merely the chance to earn them one day, and I was very interested to gauge how aware law students are of the challenges facing them and the profession in general. I am happy to report that the packed audience were well aware of the realities of the market. Happy not that they were worried about the difficulties of getting training contracts or pupillages but that they were going into this with their eyes open and, judging from the conversations I had afterwards, a determination to succeed and a very commercial approach to the practice of law. Of course, this is not all good news. Only a handful of those present were considering going in to traditionally publicly-funded work such as criminal or family law. Not because of the work itself but because, starting a career saddled with thousands of pounds of student debt and the prospect of funding the incredibly high cost of living in (mostly) London, such a route is simply unaffordable. However, from the perspective of the new legal landscape which is rapidly emerging, I felt that the response of the students indicated a welcome move away from the traditional ivory tower viewpoint of the profession and towards a more pragmatic, commercial and customer-centric approach. There is hope! There is hope, also, in the fact that an entirely student-organised function provoked an active and informed debate. The quality of the questions were far better than many I have heard in “professional” conferences and it was refreshing to be in such an engaged gathering. Another feature was the diversity of the student body. I don’t have the statistics to hand, but a good proportion of attendees were from overseas – what a fantastic reflection on the strength of the English Law market and legal system, driving one of our country’s most important “invisible” exports. The only downside, for me at least, was that there were no members of the teaching faculty present. I have no idea why this was – maybe they weren’t invited – but surely the challenge of delivering a career for law graduates must be central to the purpose of the faculty, particularly in the era of £9,000 a year fees?

Riverview speak at University of Law career day

Recently we had great fun visiting the University of Law in Christleton to share the Riverview model with the next generation of legal professionals … and to share with them why they should consider starting their career with us. We (Ed Chan, Sam Cooper, Yasmin Shokrollahi and Tara Cavanna) spoke to around 30 students about Alternative Business Structures, the changing legal market and why we are in the process of securing an ABS license. It was clear that for many hourly billing and the ticking clock is all they know and what they expected. However, we hope that our enthusiasm for the innovative nature of Riverview changed that. Hearing what we do every day, at the front line of the service, seemed to challenge the students’ perception of how legal services should be provided. After all, since we launched we’ve been proving, day-in-day out, that affordable, first class legal services can be provided to all organisations, from the small medium enterprises to the large corporates without compromising on quality. As importantly, we’ve also proved that we can have fun whilst doing it. Two questions repeatedly came up: How can a business structure like Riverview’s possibly work, and what are the career prospects at Riverview? The answer to the first question is straight forward; we provide our legal services in a no-nonsense way that charges a fair, fixed price that delivers value to the customer and revenues and profit to Riverview. We’re transparent, open and honest with our customers and most importantly, we understand what they do. Add to that an enthusiastic and innovative team of people who are at the top of their game and there’s your answer. The career prospects are exactly what you’d expect from a fresh, dynamic business expanding at an impressive rate. We explained that that in just 2 months, we’ve doubled in size. Pretty impressive for a new business. And we’re still growing. There is already a huge amount of opportunity at Riverview for those who want it. Riverview recognises that a business is only as good as it’s people, so they are hugely committed to training and developing their staff to enhance their careers and support them on their chosen paths. After all, the team is ultimately what makes Riverview stand out from the crowd. I hope we helped to inspire these students, and change their perception of how legal services can (and should!) be provided. We think we got them excited for their future careers and we got them excited about Riverview. We certainly learnt a lot.

The British are coming – with Sports Mixtures – what would The New Yorker say?

I couldn’t resist tweeting, while our plane was prevented from leaving its stand by torrential rain, that we were on our way to support @RiverviewLawUS as it continued its work converting our US cousins. I burst out laughing as almost immediately I was greeted with a ‘The British are coming’ response from a US commentator. Don’t you just love Twitter. Given the scrutiny my passport got at Border Control these Tweets were clearly being monitored by the US authorities … and the ABA? However, the customs official finally let me through when my answer to what felt like his forty-ninth question – “So what does your business do?” – was “We make it cheaper and easier to get high quality legal advice.” He directed me on my way with a smile saying “Anyone who can sort lawyers out is fine by me, welcome to America.” Well, his words were actually a little less diplomatic than this but you get the sentiment. After much laughter and many intense, challenging and engaging discussions with lawyers, businesses, law school deans, law students, academics and commentators, the trip ended in New York, via Boston and a 90 minute meeting with London on Cisco Telepresence. Scarily (be very scared Riverview Law team) it left me even more excited about the global opportunities in the legal market and the impact technology will have on the delivery of professional services. We may be getting an Ice Cream fridge following the visit to Jorma Vartia of Fondia but I really want a Cisco Telepresence system for Riverview Law – brilliant technology. There were many stand-out moments during the trip; forgetting where we’d parked the car, getting a parking ticket, driving out of a service station with a drink on the roof, talking on a mobile phone in the Yale club … But the big take-away for me was the strategic drivers behind the trends in the US and UK legal markets. Much of the US market, including many law schools, is clearly unaware of the ABS revolution that’s happening ‘across the Pond’. They have no idea of its likely impact, and probably think that a combination of the ABA, Border Control and the Atlantic Ocean are enough to shield the US legal market from the increased competition emerging. The flipside is that there’s a lot more technological innovation in the US (just look at what Cisco and our partner Legal OnRamp have and are doing!). It’s easy for us, and I include Riverview Law in the ‘us’ (and we think we’re quite advanced), to overlook what’s happening in this space. I think the technology trend will ultimately prove to be at least as important as the regulatory changes occurring. I was invigorated by what I saw and heard. However, above everything else the trip reminded me just how poor American ‘candy’ is when compared with British sweets. Biting into a US Twix was, let me be charitable, disappointing. Trying their equivalent of our Sports Mixtures was nothing short of horrible. When I expressed such views, politely of course, and when I extolled the virtues of OUR sweets (I became very patriotic), my American hosts, Paul Lippe of Legal On-Ramp and Steve Harmon of Cisco, thought I was ‘exaggerating’, although they used more colourful language at the time, suggesting that I should not judge American cuisine from our Masspike rest-stop experience! But, a mouthful of Sports Mixtures later (I had a couple of bags in my case for emergency breakfast purposes) and their journey to the promised land had started. You’ll be pleased to know, and would expect nothing else given our traditional English hospitality, that as part of our on-going missionary services to our US brethren we’re assembling a sweet parcel so that they know what they are missing!  It’s always great to be home – I love touching down in England – but I learnt so much, in such a short time, that the next longer trip to the US is already being planned. A visit during which I will try and blag my way into the pages of the New Yorker with an interview on the health and well-being benefits of English sweets – particularly Sports Mixtures as part of a balanced diet. After all, many lawyers would say I know more about sweets than legal services. Some would say such an article would raise the standard of journalism in the New Yorker. I couldn’t possibly comment!

Helsinki Heights: Susskind, That Skeleton and Ice Cream

Have you ever walked into a law firm reception and been offered ice cream? Neither had I until I went to Helsinki last week at the invitation of Jorma Vartia, Managing Director of the law firm Fondia. Walking into the Fondia office is an experience. Stepping out of the lift I thought I’d got off at the wrong floor. I thought I’d walked into someone’s front room. There is no reception. There is a coffee shop. There is a comfortable study with big, deep leather chairs and old fashioned rich wall paper which acts, almost accidentally, as a waiting area. There is a deliciously unavoidable ice cream freezer (I assume it’s replaced by a soup dispenser in winter!). But if walking into the office had, in its own low key and understated way, that wow factor, walking into the meeting rooms was, literally, mind boggling. Did I say meeting rooms? I mean playrooms with games, toys … oh and glass-topped meeting tables which allow you to see the pool table underneath. And a skeleton, who is apparently the longest serving employee (I forgot to ask his/her name). They even have a house band which is so good it could easily play gigs, and probably does. In some ways it all reminded me of BFC, the fictional US law firm created by Mitch Kowalski in his excellent book ‘Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining legal services for the 21st century’’. But Mitch, this is way beyond BFC and must feature in your next book (alongside Riverview Law of course!). I’d been invited to speak at the Fondia Legal conference organised to celebrate its ninth birthday. I’m so glad I accepted. Not only was the pre-conference Q&A with 80 ‘Fondians’ great fun – I admit I googled ‘Fondians’ before the event – the conference itself (and the party afterwards!) was excellent. The first speaker was Pekka Ala-Pietila, ex-President of Nokia . He provided an overview of the ICT 2015 strategy Finland has commenced to provide its five million population with a competitive advantage in both the regional and global markets. He spoke with calm authority and shared many lessons and goals we could learn from in the UK, particularly in the public sector – “Public services need to be customer driven and frictionless”. Richard Susskind followed with a 90 minute tour-de-force. I’ve heard Richard speak, excellently, before. However, there was clearly something in the Finnish air because he only stopped to take his first breath and first drink of water after 69 minutes. Yes, I timed it. Many of you will be familiar with his core themes having read his various books so I won’t repeat them here. However, some of his throw away lines were not only funny they were injected with serious messages that spread through attendees like a virus. After the laughter you could hear people thinking – is that me? For example: “Not many lawyers use Twitter. What are they doing, waiting for it to take off?”?“Lawyers think project management is buying bigger lever-arched folders and applying more yellow stickies to pages”?“Lawyers, being intelligent people, think they’re project managers after two days training, 15 years ago, but would look in horror if a project manager claimed they were a lawyer after two days training” In particular I was delighted to hear his views on where he thinks we are in the evolution of the legal market – “We’re clearly at a big moment, we’ve reached the point where General Counsel are increasingly saying that they’ve always said that law firms needed to change”. When people think it’s their idea … He went on to add that “the next ten years will be dominated by the more for less theme. Expect customers to work together as law firms fail to move quickly enough” Of course he could have added ”… or work with Legal Advisory Outsourcing businesses like Riverview Law”. Maybe in his next speech! So, what a 48 hours that was. I learnt a lot. In Fondia I found people similar to the team we have at Riverview – highly professional, focused on the customer, with a great sense of humour who know that they shouldn’t take themselves too seriously. And yes, for the record, I would have quite happily stayed in the Fondia snug for quite some time … I love ice cream and coffee!

Segmentation of the Legal Services Market – ‘The Banker’s View’

Riverview Law gets a mention in this article from The Lawyer. Price points and service models are the first areas on which the UK legal market is segmenting, but as Lee Everson, corporate director (professional services industry team) at  Barclays  says, there is more to come. He marks Riverview Law out for particular mention ‘Another new player, Riverview Law, is targeting the UK corporate space with a fixed fee offering that provides its corporate customers with unlimited access, within the agreed service scope, to its legal teams. This out-sourcing model again provides significant benefits to firms looking to gain certainty over their legal spend.’

‘Innovations in Legal Services’ 14 Eye-Opening Cases from The Canadian Bar Association Legal Futures

The future isn’t just coming, it’s already here, this paper suggests. Riverview Law is discussed in Chapter 7 ‘Fixed Fee arrangements’ at page 19. The Legal Futures Initiative examined 14 companies ‘that haven’t waited for a groundswell of opinion or approval before implementing their innovative ideas for service including freelance lawyers to automated document providers; from fixed fee arrangements to co-operative legal services’  and, as the data suggests, they have been quite successful at it. See more at: CBA Legal Futures Initiative for a downloadable pdf.

Riverview Law warns “don’t follow Apple’s lead”

Riverview Law, the fixed-priced legal services business, has issued a warning to businesses about making sure they read and understand the terms and conditions of contracts they are signing. The warning comes after it emerged that even multi-national companies like Apple don’t read the small print. They recently admitted not even picking up the 25 page terms and conditions given to them by FBI-NSA agents working on the Prism surveillance programme. Solicitor, Natasha Maddock, says reading every part of a contract can save a lot of problems later on: “Standard terms and conditions are often one-sided and by signing them you could commit to something that you’re not able to deliver. Reading through and understanding what is expected of you, before you sign a contract, can help you not only negotiate some of the points but it could also allow you to add some terms and conditions of your own.” Natasha has put together five top tips for dealing with terms and conditions:

  1. Get it in writing: Business agreements can often be made informally. If this does happen then it’s difficult to know when the contract was formed and what the terms of the contract are. Get the deal clearly set out in writing as soon as possible.
  2. Read and understand: Read the terms and conditions fully, including any supporting documents, and understand what it is they mean. It is important that you understand what is expected of you and the other party. Be mindful too that you don’t also commit to something that your sub-contractors cannot deliver. If you’re unsure ask for legal advice to ensure your best interests are also considered.
  3. Negotiate: If there is anything in the small print you’re not happy with, say so. It might be that the ‘standard’ terms and conditions given to you are not fit for purpose so highlight this and discuss how you can come to some agreement. If negotiating is not possible, but the contract is too important to pass up, then carry out a risk assessment to identify areas of concern and make sure you prepare for any knock on effects that might occur.
  4. Keep it confidential: If while negotiating you need to disclose confidential business information or ideas, then get both parties to sign a confidentiality (non-disclosure) agreement to ensure your confidential information remains secure.
  5. If in doubt, ask: Commercial contract drafting is a complex issue, if you have any doubt about what you’re about to sign, no matter how small, seek specialist legal advice.

“Contracts can be daunting”, says Natasha, “but that does not mean that you have to just go with what the first draft says. By taking time to get things right at the start you can avoid costly delays and disputes in the future. ”

Lifting the Lid on New-Model Law Firm

A video interview with the head of our US office, Andy Daws, was just posted by law firm consultant Ron Friedmann and can be viewed here. Ron asks a number of questions about the origins of Riverview, market liberalisation and future plans, and he jokes with Andy at one point about the use of the “S” word … “Sales”! Remarkable as it seems, many lawyers still find the notion of selling their services somewhat abhorrent, yet an increasing number of firms are beginning to wake up to the importance of business development. Earlier this month, Andy was invited to speak to the annual conference of the Legal Sales & Service Organisation in Boston, which has grown significantly in recent years. The conference was attended by individuals from law firms around the world and whose primary role is in the area of sales and business development. It’s a unique event that brings together a roster of thought-provoking speakers as well collaboration (the “C” word, for many firms!) in small groups to learn together. If you’re interested in learning more visit Legal Sales here.

Home thoughts from abroad – Legal Week Strategic Technology Forum 2013

Adam Shutkever, COO at Riverview Law reports back from the Legal Week Strategic Technology Forum 2013. I have recently returned from speaking at the Legal Week Strategic Technology Forum 2013 which was held in Fiuggi, Italy- a spa resort in the hills around an hour from Rome. I must confess that the prospect of an all-expenses paid couple of days in the sun was an attractive one from the outset but I was also interested in hearing the views, ideas and concerns of a group of mostly non-lawyers delivering key services to the legal market. Have you ever noticed how the legal market loves the concept of “nons” ? Non- partners, non-lawyers, non-fee earners….the list goes on. I have always found the views of the “nons” to be particularly interesting, and last week’s experience was no exception. Topics at the conference ranged widely, from predictions on the long-term use of artificial intelligence in law firms to “The psychology of the Courageous Conversation”. I was struck by the very active debates which took place, perhaps reflecting the fact that those present seemed a very close-knit group. The event felt a little like a reunion- almost a gathering of friends, albeit these “friends” manage IT and operations in a good cross-section of the world’s largest law firms. I spoke as a member of a panel of “managing partners” (!), discussing legal services realignment. This gave me an opportunity to share my views on the current state of the traditional legal services market (a perfect storm: difficult economic environment, new regulatory regime and, most importantly, customer-driven change) and to contrast Riverview Law’s approach, building fixed price services around the requirements of our customers. The response from a large audience was very consistent with similar gatherings of “nons” which I had spoken to before- a remarkably high level of agreement, combined with frustration at the difficulty of re-aligning partner-owned firms to address the changing marketplace. The consensus view of the longer-term viability of the traditional model was not at all positive- all very encouraging for a newcomer not saddled with high overheads and a partnership structure to support! Other interesting topics of discussion included options for remote collaboration between lawyers and customers and in particular the conflict between the need for security and the increasing use by businesses of cloud-based document storage solutions such as Dropbox. It was clear that IT directors have their work cut out in delivering secure solutions when customers demand simplicity. A debate entitled “Overcoming the challenges of a mobile and international workforce” quickly became something of a group therapy session, with delegates bemoaning the need to keep providing the latest toys to their lawyer colleagues, despite the obvious challenges of supporting multiple platforms, devices etc. Again, music to my ears. All in all, it was a very worthwhile experience. I should, though, let on that the photos of the inviting pool which I thoughtfully shared with my colleagues back home failed to tell the full story. If any readers are attracted to the prospect of having themselves cryogenically frozen they should save the expense of going to a clinic and opt instead for 10 minutes in a Fiuggi swimming pool in June.

Moulding the future of law firms

It started from scratch just over a year ago, created fear in many rivals and now has a team in excess of 100. Riverview Law is a fixed fee legal business that is changing the way companies access legal services. Allan Archer, director of customer experiences, talks to Neasa MacErlean of Professional Marketing Magazine. When Riverview Law opened its doors in February last year the phone started ringing almost immediately. “From week one we were getting calls from large corporations,” says Allan Archer. This was a surprise. With its fixed fees, money-back guarantee and annual contracts, Riverview had expected to attract SMEs (small and medium enterprises) before larger organisations. A year on, Riverview works with several household names (though, for confidentiality reasons, it cannot disclose who these are) through a team of over 100 solicitors, barristers and support staff based predominantly in the low cost area of the Wirral, near Liverpool. Archer believes that big business was “intrigued” by a law firm offering “true fixed fees” with nothing hidden in the fine print. The UK legal market was just being liberalised at that stage, allowing non-lawyers to set up “alternative business structures”, funded with their capital, to offer legal services. While most new entrants like the Co-op focused on consumer law, Riverview chose to launch its services solely to the business market. Since then, the Riverview Law team has been winning clients among large and small businesses in the UK and – since May 2012 – through its New York office, its first staging post in the US. Making gains at the top end of the market was, in some ways, easier than at the other end. Archer and Riverview’s chief executive Karl Chapman had run AdviserPlus, an organisation with a similar approach which provided business/ human resources advice for businesses, for over a decade and they already had the contacts and the technology which they could draw on to create Riverview Law. For large customers, Riverview provides monthly feedback about where their legal matters are coming from. This can help these customers cut their costs. For instance, an increase in consumer litigation could be traced back to a problematic script in a call centre. But Riverview – which is made up of Riverview Solicitors and Riverview Chambers – had to think more carefully about the SME category which had largely become sceptical about fixed fees and other marketing claims. At first, Riverview tried out some traditional channels – particularly direct mail, the local press and radio. It had its greatest success with radio in getting over the fixed price message. But the company realised it had to do something different from the norm. “Instead of trying to mass market, we wanted to talk to SMEs,” says Archer. This would allow small businesses to ask questions and establish for themselves that the annual rates promised – £3,960 for organisations with between six and 24 employees, for instance – did not contain get-out clauses. Social media – particularly Twitter and Facebook – have proved to be ideal in facilitating this communication. “Twitter is conversational and allows us to answer questions and build relationships,” says Archer. The dialogue with clients is invaluable, he explains. “We need to constantly engage with businesses so that we’re aware of their current needs and issues. These businesses play as big a part as we do in moulding the future direction of the legal market.” But Riverview did not get the dialogue going from a completely cold start. They wanted to offer something useful to their potential customers which would then entice them to engage in conversation. That something was the online legal library, Myview. It offers free unlimited access to over 650 advice pages and 450 documents, FAQs, letters and templates relating to running a business. “The breadth and depth of advice and guidance in this library is unrivalled and will help business take a more pre-emptive approach to the running of their business. These cover subjects from HR to sales and marketing, finance and regulation to technology and health & safety,” explains Archer. The Riverview team regularly updates the library in response to new cases or legislation or when issues become timely. The UK horse meat scandal in spring this year gave Riverview the opportunity to communicate on who might be affected, how to prevent being damaged and what legal steps to take. “We have a social media manager,” says Archer. “We encourage our employees to tweet. Chief Executive Karl Chapman is very active.” Unlike many of his peers in other legal businesses, Archer is totally convinced by the usefulness of Twitter and other social media. “It’s a lot to do with monitoring what is happening,” he says. “You get a lot of knowledge and feedback.” Riverview won the prize for the ‘Best Emerging Firm’ in the MPF Awards for Management Excellence earlier this year. That award followed on from being described as “standout” in the Financial Times Innovative Awards 2012. Its innovations affect many parts of the business and have a positive knock-on effect on customer service. Archer explains: “Our people can just get on with providing a solution rather than thinking ‘how much can I bill because I want to develop my career?’” Riverview is still growing – actively recruiting – and expects to expand far more once it has firmly established its business model in the UK. One possibly surprising aspect of its current profile is that only 18 per cent of its personnel are not lawyers. The model is technology-heavy and lawyer-heavy – not, in contrast with some other pioneering firms, support staff-heavy. While, like many other firms, Riverview says it is only a matter of time before it opens up bases in China and the Middle East, it is not just following a fad. Before that stage it expects to expand more in the US, building upon its New York office – and not many UK firms are doing that right now. The mantra from many other commercial law firms is that the new world of alternative business structures and legal liberalisation will not affect the business sector. Some competitors have seemed rather offhand about the threat from Riverview. They will be hoping that Archer is wrong when, speaking of the legal market, he says: “There will be a lot of new brands and as a result a lot of existing firms will struggle.”

Riverview Law’s approach to business legal service pricing

In this extract from the University of Law’s CPD training video, ‘Practice Management & Compliance: Costs’, Adam Shutkever, COO at Riverview Law discusses the fixed fee, customer-centric model used across their range of legal services for businesses of all sizes. In 2012 the Legal Ombudsman confirmed that costs are the single biggest reason for client dissatisfaction with lawyers, far outweighing any other sorts of complaints it receives.  The Chief Legal Ombudsman’s latest Report on costs and customer service reveals, unsurprisingly, that there is a growing desire from clients to pay a fixed price for a legal service, as opposed to an hourly rate.  Yet it’s often been thought that many of the more complex legal services, such as litigation, do not lend themselves to this model.  However, one firm is challenging this belief. The findings of the Chief Legal Ombudsman’s Report on costs and customer service has shown that clients would prefer clearer pricing and more control over how the costs of their case are incurred.  One firm attempting to address these issues is Riverview Law, who have adopted a fixed fee pricing model across their entire range of legal services.  

What lawyers can learn from travel agents!

Our recent presentation at Georgetown Law’s Symposium on The Shrinking Pyramid: Implications for Law Practice and the Legal Profession was the culmination of several months’ collaboration with three other industry leaders in the United States to produce an accessible academic paper comparing the effects of disruptive innovation in the travel industry with current trends from the emerging legal services paradigm. The paper, entitled ‘Even in a data-driven world, we still need travel agents… and lawyers’ features a case study of Riverview Law and was co-authored by the head of our North America office, Andy Daws, along with Renee Knake (MSU College of Law), Silvia Hodges (TyMetrix) and James Peters (LegalZoom). The presentation was extremely well received at the symposium and it is anticipated that the accompanying paper will be published in a leading law journal later this year. Here’s an extract from the Introduction: ‘The mid-1990’s witnessed the peak for retail travel agents and brick-and-mortar law firms the likes of which are unlikely to be experienced again. Over 20,000 travel retail locations closed in the past two decades, and the legal profession shed thousands of jobs. Both of these professional service industries were disrupted by technological innovation, in particular sophisticated online access and high-level data aggregation. There are lessons to be learned from travel agents for lawyers at all levels of service, from solo practitioners to large, traditional firms … This article explores ways that the legal profession can learn from the travel industry’s path of innovation in an era where significant components of law practice have been (or soon will be) displaced by technology and do-it-yourself services. We identify and assess two of the early entrepreneurs in online retail and in-house procurement of legal services based upon data aggregation, concluding with several recommendations for the profession drawn from the travel industry’s experience’. If you’re interested in reading the Riverview Law case study and learning more about the lessons the team identified for lawyers at this pivotal time for the industry, you can read the paper here.

Riverview Law and social media ‘a winning combination’

In this episode of Star Radio 107fm The Social Media Show (Number 8), radio hosts Ann Hawkins and Eric Swain discuss how professional firms can get new business and give a better service by listening to what clients want and show how using social networks to communicate transparently and authentically is a winning combination. They interview Kelly Anstee from accountancy practice Tyrrell & Company, Paul Hutchinson from Blackletter PR and Lucinda Acland from Riverview Law. Follow #TSMShow for more news and link to The Social Media Show.

Riverview Law are proud to be part of Team Justice Gap for the London Legal Walk

We’re delighted to be walking as part of The Justice Gap team at the London Legal Walk on Monday 20th May 2013. The walk, organised by The London Legal Support Trust, saw 6,000 people take part in the 10km walk which raised over £540,000 last year. The money goes to law centres and legal advice agencies ensuring vulnerable people have access to legal advice. This year there have been a record number of team registrations and we are delighted to be part of this fundraising effort. For more information on the London Legal Support Trust visit their website. For more information on The Justice Gap visit their website. If you would like to sponsor Team Justice Gap you can do so here.

Riverview Law scoops award for best emerging firm

Riverview Law,  the fixed-priced legal services business, has won the 2013 Managing Partners’ Forum award for best emerging firm. The award recognises  “…the organisation whose willingness to blaze their own trail is bringing about disruptive innovation and market change.” The impressive shortlist of firms were: Gunnercooke, Irwin Mitchell, Law:Public, L&E Global, Obelisk, Premier Property Lawyers, Quindell, Slater & Gordon, Stobart Barristers and The Co- operative Legal Services. It is just over a year since Riverview Law launched, committed to changing the way businesses use, measure and buy legal services by bringing transparency and certainty through fixed price annual and multi-year contracts. This award follows earlier recognition from the Financial Times when it was selected as ‘Standout’ by the judging panel at the Innovative Lawyers Awards 2012 in the Legal Industry Pioneers category. Riverview Law Chief Executive, Karl Chapman, says: “It is immensely satisfying to receive another award in recognition of our work. However, we have always maintained that the real winners from the changes occurring in the legal market are customers. Our focus remains on ensuring that businesses of all sizes have access to cost-effective, fixed-fee, legal advice.”

Maple Leaf Reflections

You can hear it in my accent when I talk, I’m a Canadian in London – apologies to Sting In the opening pages of James Clavell’s, Noble House, visitors to Hong Kong are hit by a pungent smell as they disembark their plane at old Kai Tak airport. They’re told, “That’s the smell of money.” When I recently disembarked at Heathrow’s T3, I don’t recall any particular smell. But by the end of a whirlwind week of talks and presentations, I was drinking in the soothing velvet taste of innovation as it continues to roll through the UK’s legal services market. Riverview Law generously sponsored me for a week-long list of engagements with law students, lawyers and general counsel to discuss what is being done now, and what can be done to change the legal services industry into a modern business operation based on value-for-money, client service and exceptional process. My book, Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century, was striking a chord among those in the UK who saw the full implementation of the Legal Services Act as the death knell for “business-as-usual” for all law firms except the Magic Circle firms – at least for now. I have often called Canada “the land where legal innovation comes to die.” We’re a conservative bunch here, barely touched by the financial meltdown of 2008 and stubbornly clinging to the notion that what works in private business has absolutely no application to the running of a legal practice. So, I was pleasantly stunned to be surrounded by individuals who spoke of wild ideas like “management information”, “major investment in IT solutions”, “constantly improving our processes”, “culture of innovation,” “creating the right metrics”, “letting lawyers do what they do best”, “value-for-money” and “fun”. These were not terms thrown around to impress – they’re values deeply imbedded in a new wave of legal services providers who are discarding things lawyers dislike (time sheets for starters) and applying lessons learned from other successful businesses. And to think that the most innovative provisions of the Legal Services Act are only a year old….. Clearly there are direct correlations between well-funded legal businesses, happier lawyers and predictable, affordable pricing for clients. The highlight of my trip was visiting Riverview’s operations in The Wirral – it was if I had walked into the offices of my fictionalized law firm, BFC – minus the rooftop deck. I was astounded by the fact that from the top down, a customer-centred culture permeated the team. It was palpable, refreshing and genuine – something I’ve not seen before in any law firm. My short UK tour has reinforced my belief that the Canadian legal profession can be saved through similar innovations driven by an opening up of the legal marketplace. But for now I’ll have to be content to watch from the other side of the Atlantic – green with envy.

The Financial Times recognises Riverview Law’s standout contribution to legal innovation

On 4th October at the FT Innovative Lawyers Awards 2012 Riverview Law was selected as ‘Standout’ by the judging panel in the Legal Industry Pioneers category. Overall Riverview Law came second out of the shortlist of thirteen legal businesses. It is less than eight months since Riverview Law launched in February 2012 – promising to change the way businesses use, measure and buy legal services by bringing transparency and certainty through fixed price annual and multi – year contracts, plus litigation and advice packages. Riverview Law Chief Executive, Karl Chapman, says: “We believe the real winners from the changes occurring in the legal market are customers. Indeed, we believe that one of the reasons we received this recognition is because we are delivering on the promise of higher quality, lower priced, fixed fee legal advice. Something we will continue to do!”

Legal Procurement Conference

The impact of the Legal Services Act on procurement was the subject of debate at the recent Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply member conference – Redefining Legal Procurement. The event, supported by Riverview Law and AdviserPlus, brought together over 100 procurement professionals for a half day conference at the University of Birmingham on Monday 17th September. The delegates heard from a range of speakers, including: Professor Stephen Mayson, Director of the Legal Services Institute, who in highlighting the gross inefficiencies in the legal services market, urged procurement professional to re-think their use of expensive, ego-centric lawyers. “The structural and attitudinal inefficiencies in law firms are hindering clients getting what they want,” he said. “The Legal Services Act is driving the need to look at what lawyers do and we will see an increased use of non-lawyers where lawyers are not needed to do the work. One of the biggest outcomes from the Legal Services Act will be cheaper and higher-quality legal services.” Recognising that there has never been a better time to buy legal services, Sir Nigel Knowles, Joint CEO and Managing Partner, DLA Piper, said: “Since the recession, the boot is now on the foot of the client when it comes to buying legal services.” Sir Nigel went on to give a warning to firms who think their businesses will return to normal post-recession: “Things aren’t going to return to normal. This is the new normal and firms will have to adapt. Clients no longer want “execution-only” law firms. Instead, they’re looking for a genuine understanding of their business and industry.” Proxima’s Head of Professional and Financial Services, Richard James, by quoting one law firm managing partner’s reluctance to change, highlighted the ignorance still in existence about the Legal Services Act amongst the profession. Richard also explained why buying legal services is different and the difficulties faced in measuring its value. “Procurement professionals think there is a conflict of interest in valuing relationships and need to make a leap in viewing relationships as a value-driver,” he said. Anne-Marie Amatt, Senior Category Manager, E.ON UK, whose experiences inspired the creation of the event, gave an honest and insightful account of her three-year journey of taking E.ON from a business where legal was exempt from the procurement policy, to present day, where a collaborative approach ensues. Anne-Marie explained how the plethora of law firm profit legal tables had become a procurement benchmark at E.ON. She told the audience: “It’s hard to trust a supplier that boasts about its own profitability, so the tables provide a useful tool for our team meetings to play ‘guess the profit margin’.” The event concluded with a wide-ranging audience and question answer session covering topics including breaking down barriers between commercial, procurement and legal departments, public sector compliance and the UK’s pre-eminent position on the international legal stage.

Outsourced Legal Advisory Services

The following RFP (Request for Proposal) documents were made available to delegates at the conference and were developed for organisations wishing to purchase legal services in a more cost-effective manner than through the ‘traditional’ hourly rates model. 1. Guidance Notes 2. Legal services RFP template 3. Attachment 1 – Service line description 4. Attachment 2 – Existing case load 5. Schedule 1 – Pricing template

Links:

Birmingham Post article

Legal revolution is ‘good for business’ says entrepreneur

The Lawyer article

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