Legal Firm

Launched 2021

The Challenge

This company, which for the purposes of this case study will remain anonymous, provides legal services businesses in all fifty states in the US. Each jurisdiction has different processes and policies, which make the firm’s client work incredibly complex.

The company had recently acquired a different firm, which had added pressure into the company in terms of volume of work. Additionally, each firm had their own way of executing the work and everyone had created independent, manual systems for tracking their client work.

The challenge was threefold: firstly, to scale the capacity of the team of lawyers and paralegals; secondly, to clear away the noise and create a standardized, streamlined and repeatable process so that the paralegals and lawyers working on any particular case could know exactly what was needed of them and when. And third, to complete the project within a tight budget and strict deadlines. 

The firm had one internal product owner, who was managing the project, but additional support was needed. They had initially partnered with a different software development house but had not felt satisfied with their overall experience: insufficient progress was being made and there was a lack of responsiveness to queries, plus erratic invoicing which impacted the firm’s ability to plan and budget. In April 2020, a year into the project, they decided to hire Speed & Function instead.

The Approach

When S&F came on board, everyone involved realized the system that was being developed needed to be broken down in order to be rebuilt from scratch because it didn’t offer sufficient insight into the complexities of the legal processes the firm needed to manage.

On the technical side, one of S&F’s full stack developers who specializes in Ruby on Rails was assigned to the client and became involved in multiple aspects of the project. Rails framework has multiple benefits that suited this project well; it is cost-effective, time efficient, and the architecture can be built in a modular way. The team built multiple features into the software to enable the client to filter, track and have detailed visibility on each case.

To ensure the project was managed successfully, the client was allocated an account manager from S&F, who implemented a number of processes to ensure the project kept progressing and to provide the client with transparency and the updates they required. S&F’s technical code expert was also available to offer ad hoc support when needed.

Working closely with the firm’s in-house product owner and CEO, S&F’s team implemented various processes and regular meetings to create a collaborative partnership, responding to the client’s feedback and requests to change the way the working relationship functioned when needed.

The Outcome

The project, which had been progressing slowly over the previous 12 months, began to gain rapid traction once S&F were brought on board. 

Within the first 8 months, two key milestones were reached, enabling the paralegals and lawyers to clearly visualize the complex legal processes and how they differed in different parts of the country and to see exactly who was responsible for which actions in order to move each project forward. As a result, each paralegal could dramatically increase their caseload and the firm overall was able to scale their services because so much time and headspace was freed up from having to manually track each client project.  

The engineers also built data reporting into the software, which enabled the firm’s team to evaluate the difficulty of each project and, where needed, to renegotiate fees with a 95% success rate.

S&F offered the law firm a lot of transparency and translated technical concepts into plain English, offering the key internal stakeholders visibility of the process and a sense of clarity.

The client appreciated the collaborative approach taken by S&F so much that they have incorporated certain elements into how they work with their clients.  And now that the software for internal use is up and running, the project has been extended and S&F are involved in developing a client-facing version of the products.

The Secret Sauce

The client credits the success of this project to a few key factors that the Speed & Function team brought to the table. 

  • Close collaboration. S&F worked hard to develop a closely collaborative relationship with the firm’s key team members. S&F understood that the client offers a specialized service in a niche area and the S&F team used the client’s language and instinctively understood the importance of translating complex programming language into everyday English, which reduced anxiety on the client side. ​
  • Ability to pivot and adapt. The S&F team worked in their distinctively adaptable style, pivoting and making adjustments to how the relationship and project were run when the client requested such changes. Communication was and is key, and the client reported having no doubts about working with us because of the responsiveness and responsibility taken by each member of the S&F team. 
  • Transparency and information sharing. Thirdly, the way S&F created transparency by sharing the relevant information about the product enabled the firm’s CEO to have a clear grasp on the process and timescales. Speed & Function’s Project Manager also provided monthly budget updates. The CEO didn’t need to understand the technical detail of the product, whereas the firm’s in-house product owner did.

Overall, the successful completion of the software created the automation that the client was aiming for, allowing the legal firm to focus on the relationships with their clients, not the paperwork. The firm’s CEO understood that the more clarity the client’s employees have when talking with their clients, the calmer and clearer they could be, and the better their clients’ experiences would be. 

The project is ongoing and is working steadily towards its next key milestone. 

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