6 December 2018

Marketing a Legal Tech Start-Up on a Global Scale

Insights News

Recently, we spoke with Ari Kaplan on the Reinventing Professionals podcast. We discussed the genesis of Lawcadia, why it is necessary for in-house legal teams to leverage technology to manage their outside counsel, the associated challenges, the best practices for marketing a legal tech start-up on a global scale, and where the Australian legal tech sector is headed.

Ari Kaplan is a leading legal industry analyst, an inaugural Fastcase 50 honoree, a finalist for ILTA’s Thought Leader of the Year award and a fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. His most recent book, Reinventing Professional Services: Building Your Business in the Digital Marketplace, was released in Japanese, and West Academic published the second edition of The Opportunity Maker: Strategies for Inspiring Your Legal Career Through Creative Networking and Business Development in 2016.

You can view original podcast here

Transcript

Intro:

Welcome to reinventing professionals, a podcast hosted by industry analyst, Ari Kaplan, which shares ideas, guidance, and perspectives from market leaders shaping the next generation of legal and professional services.

Ari:

This is Ari Kaplan and I’m speaking today with Sacha Kirk, the Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer for Lawcadia, an Australian software company that helps in house legal teams manage their outside council relationships including selection, budgeting and spend. Hi Sacha. How are you?

Sacha:

I’m really well, thanks. It’s great to speak with you.

Ari:

It’s a privilege to talk to you. So tell us about your background and the genesis of Lawcadia.

Sacha:

My background is actually in marketing. I worked in Australia and the UK with large FMCG organizations such as Unilever, Colgate, Palmolive and HJ Heinz and when I was in those organizations I worked on innovation projects and work closely with procurement and in factory planners and that type of thing. And then I also worked as a consultant in professional services industries including law. The founder of Lawcadia, Warwick, he was a corporate lawyer in private practice. And I guess the idea for Lawcadia, it really came from our observations together and the identification of some of the key pain points that we were seeing in the legal industry in Australia, right in key markets around the world. So some of these sort of key pain points that we saw were on the law firm side that lawyers are really excellent at understanding the law and providing advice, but they’re not necessarily trained or skilled at project management or winning work, which is really the number one challenge.

Sacha:

And on the client side we saw that selection of law firms can often be habitual and it’s based on relationships and although the concept of legal procurement is growing, most teams are still traditional in their approach and are really struggling to keep an eye on, you know, scope creep and continual scope changes and how that would affect pricing and function. The other thing is that we’re also in a world where growth and budgets and spend are becoming more and more under the spotlight along with service performance and data. So it was coming out of those observations in the industry that we came up with the idea for Lawcadia, so we started Lawcadia here three years ago and it’s a platform that interfaces with in house legal teams and their law firms to manage the engagement process including pricing and then post engagement and managers scope, budget and then invoicing.

Ari:

Why is it necessary for in house legal teams to leverage technology to manage their outside counsel?

Sacha:

At the moment, there are a lot of in-house legal teams that are trying to manage this process in a way that can be quite manual and time consuming, so they are manually capturing information on spreadsheets they’re collating it and then trying to report internally with that. Some clients are also getting their law firms to provide them that data and then manually collating and pulling it together themselves. The issue with both scenarios is that the data’s not accurate and it can be really time consuming. So the opportunity for technology is to really transform that into a digital process so it automatically captures the data and sets a framework and a consistent process throughout. Then at the click of a button, then you’ve got access to that data and the insights that are really invaluable.

Ari:

What are the challenges with encouraging potential clients to adopt this approach?

Sacha:

There’s lots of challenges when it comes to change and I guess from a classical marketing perspective, there’s sort of there’s two challenges that I observe. So one of the challenges is trying to convince people that there is a need to change. So first of all there is a huge amount of value in digitizing processes and having consistent frameworks around the way that you engage in and manage your law firms and all of your external matters. Convincing people that it’s worthwhile doing is sort of one challenge. Another challenge then for people that are, you know, they’re on board and they really want to go ahead and do it is in that change process, because you know, naturally people are adverse to change and it is difficult. So we work very closely hand in hand with our corporate clients and their law firms to help step them through the change that’s required when adopting a new technology. And I must admit that for us, that’s been a huge part of our success as a business and we’re really proud of the really high adoption rate that we have with our product.

Ari:

Where are you finding the most interest?

Sacha:

In the early days, we thought that a lot of the interest would be perhaps in the smaller or medium size organizations, but we very quickly realized that the interest comes where there’s the most pain and so the most pain in this area is actually happening in enterprise organizations, so those where there’s very large teams that you just don’t get that visibility and that transparency, which is actually really critical when you’re a very large organization. You want to meet your governance requirements and also that control of your spend which can very easily escalate and hit the bottom line. So actually the most pain is actually with the enterprise level. That’s where we’re seeing a lot of interest, but having said that, we have clients even with very small legal teams who actually really get a lot of benefit out of our product.

Ari:

How much of your focus is in Australia versus organizations around the world?

Sacha:

I really liked that question because it really talks to how a startup builds and grows. A really fantastic book that I read in the very early days of starting with Lawcadia was called “Crossing the Chasm,” and it speaks to how technology businesses can grow and be successful. Being an Australian company, we felt actually we had to really prove ourselves in Australia and then take what we’ve learned here and then scale at a global level. So that’s what we’ve been focusing on the last three years. So we’ve been so fortunate to work with some incredible companies in Australia who have, you know, adopted, Lawcadia and it’s been an incredible experience. So we now have got a product that is quite unique in the market and is exceptional in what it’s delivering to clients. So now that we’ve got a very good footprint in Australia, we’re now speaking with a number of very interesting companies all around the world, but I think you’ve got to sort of be able to focus your resources and focus your energy in one location first. And when you’ve got that, then you can afford to go to other markets.

Ari:

What are some best practices for marketing a legal tech startup on a global scale?

Sacha:

When I first started Lawcadia, one of the things I did was look at adjacent categories and see, okay, what’s best practice in those categories, because I think we should be honest and say actually within the legal industry, I don’t think that the marketing is necessarily best practice or sort of leading edge. So that’s when I thought I want to have a look and just say what is excellent practice in adjacent categories. And that kind of led to sort of developing a marketing approach and strategy with Lawcadia, which really focuses on ecosystem and the brand and developing our own content and conferences and sort of really engaging at a global level. One thing that I always come back to in marketing is find out what works and then do more of it, but finding out what works can be really tricky and you have to have a really curious mind and be willing to try new things. So that’s kind of my approach is I’ve got a great team and we try lots of different things and we try them. But then we also systematically evaluate and analyze them and go what worked, what didn’t work, and then we just identify actually these things work really well and then we just do more of them. That’s my approach. And I think that’s probably good advice to other tech businesses as well.

Ari:

Where do you see the Australian legal tech sector headed?

Sacha:

I think we’d probably all realize that the Australian market is much smaller than other ones around the world, but it’s actually quite sophisticated. So the organizations and the businesses and the ideas that are coming out of Australia, you know, are of a very high level. But I think we also need to recognize that we’re also in our global market and companies that are coming out of Australia also need to be prepared to sort of compete in that global environment. The answer to the question is, you know, really watch what’s coming out of Australia because I think there’s some excellent work and some excellent ideas. But having said that, we also need to be competing at a global level.

Ari:

This is Ari Kaplan speaking with Sacha Kirk, the Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer for Lawcadia, an Australian software company that helps in house legal teams manage their outside council relationships, including selection, budgeting and spend. Sacha, thanks so much.

Sacha:

Thanks Ari!

Outro:

Thank you for listening to the reinventing professionals podcast. Visit reinventingprofessionals.com or AriKaplanadvisors.com to learn more.

 

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