Summaries of 2013 InnovAction Awards Entries

As a part of the InnovAction Award application, we asked applicants to provide a summary that we could make public, motivated in part by our interest in sharing with the legal profession some of exciting things happening today and providing innovation inspiration. The text below was submitted by the named organization as a part of its InnovAction Award application with the understanding that it would be made public. Other than copy edits and adding links, the text appears as submitted.

Thank you to everyone who submitted an application for the 2013 InnovAction Awards. To view the all InnovAction Awards winners, click here.

AppFolioMyCase App Bar and Mobile Application
Key Team Member: Matt Spiegel, VP and GM.

As the premier Web-based legal practice management software, MyCase is committed to developing tools that help law firms stop managing their systems and focus on their law practice. The company has put an emphasis on helping lawyers increase and improve communication with clients. Since its acquisition by AppFolio, a provider of Web-based software in vertical markets, the company has set the pace of innovation for cloud solutions for law firms. In April 2013, MyCase announced their new mobile application, which is the first mobile app on the market that provides a separate portal specifically for the law firms’ clients. In addition to the mobile client portal, the app’ attorney portal provides calendaring, timekeeping, billing, along with access to matters, documents, messages, and contacts. Lawyers can now do everything from their phones, enabling their increasingly mobile practice. As law practice management software continues to transform the legal industry, MyCase leverages technology to dramatically improve attorney–‐client communication and allow legal professionals to focus on running a more successful practice.

AdventBalance Lawyers, New Model Law Firm
Key Team Members:  Ken Jagger, CEO, Sandra Gibson, MD Australia, John Knox, MD Asia, and Anita Bennett, People & Development Director

AdventBalance is an innovative law firm, with our entire lawyer team working from our clients’ offices on secondments, transactions or projects. We have over 100 lawyers based in Australia and Asia, making us Australasia’s largest and fastest growing firm of secondment lawyers and our clients include some of the biggest national and international companies across every sector. We are pushing the boundaries of the traditional law firm model and believe there is a better and more flexible way to practice law, benefiting both the lawyers who provide the service and the clients who receive it. Quality, experienced lawyers are provided on a fixed-fee basis, working seamlessly as part of the business. We combine the experience and flexibility of outside counsel with the best qualities of a sophisticated in-house legal team. Our lawyers can structure their own work-life balance schedules and decide to work full-time or on a flexible part-time or project basis. Working flexibly does not hinder the quality or level of work, which often exists in traditional law firms. Our model fosters positive work practices and has created an avenue for women, particularly at a senior level, to remain in the practice of law without compromising their careers.

Avvo Ignite
Key Team Member: Sachin Bhatia, VP of Product Development

On November 13, 2013, Avvo launched Avvo Ignite Suite, a one-of-a-kind marketing platform for attorneys. Avvo Ignite Suite is cloud-based software that gives attorneys the tools to automatically connect their incoming leads to the marketing channels that are driving those leads (both online and offline). The platform also enables lawyers to manage their potential clients through the entire decision-making process – from initial contact, follow up and close. The suites marketing analytics track the performance of variable marketing channels, something most attorneys don’t currently have the ability or knowledge to discover.

Cooley LLP, MissionLink
Key Team Member: Andrew Lustig, Partner

MissionLink is a non-profit organization created to provide an opportunity for peer-to-peer networking, mentorship, and knowledge sharing among CEOs in the defense, intelligence and national security sectors. The focus of its activities is in the Washington, DC region. Each class, comprising 50-60 CEOs, engage each month with a panel of experts to discuss current issues facing their companies, exchange ideas, and meet other successful leaders in the field who can help guide them through the process of building great companies.   To ensure that the program joins like-minded officials, MissionLink requires that each member’s company has a focus on the federal market and have either a product or service in use in the national security or intelligence sector.

University of CA, Irvine School of Law Consumer Protection Clinic, The California Monitor Program
Key Team Members:  Professor Katherine Porter and Michael Troncoso

Consumer protection laws are notoriously under-enforced, constrained by not only the availability of legal services and government resources but also by the difficulties of consumers to frame their problems in legal terms. Restrictions on class actions also have limited the incentives for lawyers to analyze consumers’ problems in a collective framework. The California Attorney General appointed Professor Katherine Porter to be a watchdog for the landmark National Mortgage Settlement. Porter, an expert in consumer law, took a novel approach to ensuring consumers got the rights set forth in the Settlement. The California Monitor Program built from scratch an innovative system for how government responds to consumers seeking help. These innovations produced results for struggling homeowners and provoked major changes in bank policy. With a nimble team of a half-dozen young attorneys, Porter developed a custom database, created personalized response letter templates, and devised a powerful complaint escalation process. The framework transforms a layperson’s story into data fields for legal analysis, leveraging consumers’ complaint into robust enforcement tools. This is a replicable, scalable model for providing consumers with legal help and strengthening public enforcement of consumer laws.

Fullbridge, Inc., The Fullbridge Program
Key Team Member:  Andrew Notaro

Our challenge: Can we better prepare lawyers to compete in an evolving legal landscape?  Clients are holding lawyers to increasingly higher standards and challenging historical ways of thinking about legal services and legal spending. The Fullbridge Program provides lawyers and law firms with a competitive advantage by arming them with the skills and knowledge clients wish they had. We created an intensive, highly collaborative business education program that strengthens one’s ability to anticipate client needs, and build a trusted relationship with a client. The program allows lawyers to see the world through the eyes of their client, because only when you understand a client’s business, can you truly help them to achieve their business goals. The Fullbridge Program is designed to prepare individuals to succeed, provide value to the firm and to their clients, and to distinguish themselves in the modern law firm.

4L Law Firm Services LLC, Outsourced Bookkeeping & Billing Services
Key Team Members:  Michael Marget; Heather Tang; David Kambach; Jon Yelton; Paul Yelton

“The practice of law is also a business.” This has been said so often it’s become a cliché. Large law firms devote significant resources to their financial operations. Small/midsize firms cannot afford to spend as much to manage their business affairs. 4L Law Firm Services provides an outsourced bookkeeping and billing alternative for small/midsize firms seeking large firm back office know-how at an affordable cost.   4L’s business model incorporates both Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Service-as-a-Service. As large firms have demonstrated, the back office no longer needs to be located in the same building or same city as the lawyers. 4L is designed to function like the accounting departments in the largest firms – a single, centralized operation providing both software and services to lawyers in multiple offices; the difference being 4L is supporting lawyers in multiple firms.  Cloud-based technologies remove geography from the equation and enable small/midsize firms to access accounting software designed for large law firms and accounting personnel with large law firm experience. This outsourcing model delivers technology and talent like that employed by the largest firms at a fraction of the expense of maintaining such resources in house; often less than they currently spend.

JD Match, To create first online platform to help rationalize legal recruiting

Following the Great Reset of 2008, with firms drastically downsizing their summer associate classes, deferring start dates, and cancelling offers, it became brutally apparent that the traditional law firm/law student recruitment market was grossly dysfunctional.   The summer associate “On Campus Interviewing” (“OCI”) market had become trapped in a fruitless but ever-escalating arms race where every firm and every school competed to be earlier and “first.” This “insanely compressed” timeframe (hiring partner, AmLaw 10 firm) imposed enormous costs on firms–$20,000 and up to interview at a single school, for example, with $250,000 the all-in cost of a first year associate walking in the door—yet this enormous expense yielded inexcusably poor results in terms of unwanted attrition and mismatches.   More critically, as has been widely recognized, law schools are turning out far more JD’s than the economy requires, making the cost/benefit ratio of obtaining a JD depressingly negative for far too many students. While we cannot affect macroeconomic demand, we believe a more open, transparent, and efficient marketplace for legal talent recruitment will facilitate more durable firm/candidate matches, lower attrition, and higher long run mutual satisfaction.  We began with law students, are now expanding to serve lawyers seeking contract, staff, or temporary positions (whether with law firms, LPOs, or staffing agencies) and will move into adjacent markets shortly.

LitSoftware, LLC, iPad App Developer
Key Team Member:  Ian O’Flaherty

We see an InnovAction Hero as someone who:

  • Pioneered software development for a new technology.
  • Developed a product that competes directly with his own core business.
  • Took a chance, had success, and kept going.

Ian O’Flaherty, CEO of Lit Software, is a pioneer; he is a developer; he took a chance, tasted success and continues on his mission. He’s definitely an InnovAction Hero of 2013.  Ian is an innovator. While others saw the iPad as a media consumption device, he saw its potential to be a game-changing tool for the legal profession. In seeing its potential, he rightly gambled that the iPad would be part of a revolution in the legal industry—all it needed was the right apps. His confidence in the power of technology and a conviction that the iPad platform would conquer the legal profession brought about Lit Software, the premier app developer in the legal space.

Luks, Santaniello, Petrillo & Jones, Streamline the Examination Under Oath Claims Management Process 
Key Team Members: Andrew Chiera, Esq., Daniel Santaniello, Managing Partner, Maria Donnelly, Client Relations and Sherri Bauer, Esq. and Firm Administrator

In 2012, Florida enacted changes to the Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law that became effective January 1, 2013.  As of this date, attendance at an Examination Under Oath (EUO) is mandatory in order for an insured or omnibus claimant to receive PIP benefits.  Specifically Florida § 627.736 (6)(g) as amended now requires insured and omnibus claimants to submit to an examination under oath if the policy includes such terms.  Most significantly, compliance with this new subsection is a condition precedent to receiving benefits.  Give the changes to the Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law, Managing Partner Dan Santaniello and PIP Attorney Andrew Chiera wanted to streamline the claims management process of EUOs for its clients.  Luks, Santaniello developed a dedicated site for requesting EUOs and managing the claims process complimentary at no cost to our clients.  The new site achieves efficiencies allowing the   sharing and exchanging of claims information between attorneys and clients consolidated all in one place.  We are not currently aware of any other sites available that automate and manage the EUO claims process in Florida.

Manzama Inc.
Key Team Members: Peter Ozolin, Mark Hinkle, Randall Smith

Manzama has changed the way law firms think about business intelligence. Until our inception in 2010, the only way that a lawyer or business professional could get personalized business intelligence was for a human to sift through and analyze hundreds of sources and articles. An alternative was to employ a news aggregator which was more efficient, but not personalized. It simply delivered the top stories of the day, as determined by an editor or an algorithm. Recognizing this opportunity, Manzama’s Founders merged these two concepts and developed a listening/social monitoring platform designed for legal professionals to help identify relevant information about their legal practices from the vast electronic domain. The Manzama platform searches, classifies, and ranks over 50,000 sources daily, including major media sources, legal and industry-specific media sources, blogs, Twitter, and other social media to deliver timely and relevant business intelligence to the end-user via email or through a personalized online dashboard. While attorneys and legal administrators used to have to painstakingly seek out this important and relevant information, Manzama now listens on their behalf to the news and “chatter” that is critical to understanding their client’s businesses and industries, and critical to the development of their legal practices.

Michigan State University College of Law ReInvent Law Laboratory
Key Team Members:  Renee Knake, Assoc. Professor of Law, MSU Law & Co-Founder, ReInvent Law; Dan Katz,nAsst. Professor of Law, MSU Law & Co-Founder, ReInvent Law

The market for legal services is undergoing serious transition, presenting both possibility and peril. We believe four pillars of innovation will save our industry: Law+Tech+Design+Delivery. Legal expertise alone is no longer sufficient; lawyers must understand how to utilize technology and principles of design/user-experience to deliver services to untapped markets through new models. Cultivating these pillars is our goal at the ReInvent Law Laboratory, launched in spring 2012. We are doing this in several ways. First, over the past year, we have held multiple free, open conferences bringing together thought-leaders in the fields of law, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship around the world in London, Dubai, and Silicon Valley. Hundreds have attended the standing room only events, with our Silicon Valley event even trending on Twitter. Second, we launched a series of new courses for law students and practicing attorneys—E-Discovery, Entrepreneurial Lawyering, Lawyer Regulation and Ethics in a Technology-Driven World, Legal Information Engineering, Quantitative Methods for Lawyers, and Virtual Law Practice. Additional courses planned include topics such as project management, legal analytics, economics of the legal market, design thinking for lawyers, and artificial intelligence and lawThird, we are building new tools for delivering legal services, beta-testing emerging legal technologies, and supporting start-ups in legal services.

Nexsen Pruet, NP Strategy
Key Team Members:  Leighton Lord, Heather Matthews, Kevin Floyd and Heather McCullough

Lawyers and law firms across the country are grappling with the fact that the market for legal services in more competitive than ever.  While rote conversations about the “billable our being dead” and “cross marketing” continue to abound, the Members (partners) at Nexsen Pruet took a unique step forward.  In the fall of 2012, a motion seeking to form a wholly-owned communications subsidiary was brought before the membership.  After it passed, the law firm formed NP Strategy.  Nexsen Pruet recognized that their clients, and potential clients, often need more than what lawyers are able to provide.  Business leaders need guidance, direction and messaging that is driven, shaped and directed by individuals with diverse backgrounds and deep, real world experience.  NP Strategy (“NPS”) is a team of professionals who have held leadership positions in corporations as well as public policy and governmental organizations.  They have managed newsrooms in some of the largest cities in the United States, run statewide corporate communication departments and have broken news resulting in national coverage.  NPS helps businesses with goals containing sensitive communications components and/or regulatory requirements.  When business leaders understand South Carolina’s unique history and regulatory climate, they are able to enter or expand in the state, become part of the community and thrive.

Riverview Law, Creating a New Model Law Firm

The UK’s Legal Services Act of 2007 was designed to “promote competition, innovation and the public and consumer interest” and served as a catalyst for new business models to deliver on this promise. While the market’s attention was predominantly fixed on the opportunities for individual consumers, one group of executives in an HR services business (AdviserPlus) believed a significant opportunity also existed in the commercial law arena. Presented with several alternatives for entering the market, the decision was taken to start with a blank slate and to build a new organization from the ground up. Unencumbered by legacy technology systems, cultural baggage, or the constraints of existing operational structures, the founding team had the luxury of approaching the market with an open mind and asking questions such as What do customers actually want?; How do we best configure ourselves to deliver it?; What kind of people and behaviors do we need?; and last but by no means least, What technology is required to support it? Drawing on principles more typically taught in business schools than in law schools, the team developed a streamlined fixed-fee business model around the answers to these questions and officially launched Riverview Law in February 2012.

Scripta Legal, Personalized Ready to Sign Legal Documents
Key Team Members:  François Forget, notary and Mathieu Forget

Faced with a newly evolving marketing with the increasing presence of technology, an idea arose in which it would be possible to offer the citizens of Quebec the possibility to make personalized legal documents from the comfort of their own home.  What started off as a simple idea became a reality in June of 2012 and since then, it has only continued to progress of offering a wider selection of online legal services as well as answers and solutions to various problems that may be faced by clients.  Scripta Legal is revolutionary in its field as no other site in Quebec provides intelligent questionnaires, making the completion process easier and faster, notwithstanding the fact that it permits a better understanding of the context to provide the legal documents tailored to your situation.

Seyfarth ShawTransaction Solutions Center
Key Team Members:  Bob Reynolds, Partner; Kevin Woolf, Partner

It is well-established that today’s high volume of routine legal work often consumes in-house counsel resources—preventing them from addressing higher-level matters. Yes, many large law firms eschew this work as they cannot deliver results cost-effectively. In response, Seyfarth designed the Transaction Solutions Center, which combines major process improvement, a robust technology platform and a reallocation of legal services, changing in-house counsel’s role from gatekeeper to manager–leader and shifting our role as outside counsel from document creator–negotiator to strategic partner.  Three key components include:

  • Seyfarth manages the portfolio of work through a dedicated web interface allowing Seyfarth to leverage its deep knowledge of a client’s risk tolerance against Seyfarth’s robust Shared Services Platform to source the right-sized practitioner (whether inside or outside of Seyfarth) to perform the right work at the right price point.
  • By collapsing the intake and sourcing of legal work through a single web portal, the system provides complete cradle-to-grave transparency and real-time analytics fed by the data exhaust from the natural progression of a particular matter through the work flow life-cycle.
  • Applying our Lean Six Sigma discipline, we continuously improve the process as workflow increases, client needs evolve and we learn lessons from our experience.

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