Hacking our systems

Updated: March 2018 Reading Time: 3 minutes

We spent last weekend working on our first IT project as part of the Global Legal Hackathon!

Our aim was to improve our system of recording and reporting on work we do so that this is a simpler, faster task and we have more timely access to data we can act on.

No AI or blockchain, just addressing some practical aspirations we’ve had for a bit and seeing how far doing formulas ourselves might get us!

We’re particularly proud of 3 things.

Real-time reports on work for retainer clients

We can now give retainer clients real-time access to information on what we’ve done for them through a parallel report on the cloud. They’ll see what we’ve done within a few seconds of our recording it.

Our hunch is that there is value in giving retainer clients that level of transparency:

  1. It helps us work better with clients. There is better integration of what each team is doing if there is better insight into the role, tasks and contributions of the team and the ability to interact in real-time.
  2. It helps clients in how they use their retainer budget. If they know where the budget is at for that month, they are better able to plan their legal input and hesitate less on what work they get us involved on.

Dashboard warnings


We can now better customise early fee limit warnings on tools we use everyday, which means we can better react if work is not going to plan.

This is useful whether or not an estimate, cap or fixed quote is given for a piece of work.

For work we do on a time-costs basis, this helps us work with the client to manage and budget for these costs.

For work we do on a fixed quote, this helps us manage our costs and make better pricing decisions for future projects.

In both cases, it better ensures we are able to provide services in the longer term because it goes to the critical issue of managing costs in any service business.

Easily customisable

Our use of old tech (spreadsheets) means that anyone can use the tool we came up with over the weekend and fashion it into whatever suits them. No more complaining about off-the-shelf solutions because they plug but don’t play so well. Just roll up your sleeves and fix it yourself (with some helpful hints from spreadsheets aficionados available freely on the internet).

Perhaps that’s the most important insight we’ve taken away from our weekend of formulas – tech is far more useful if you can customise it as you go because your ideas of what you want are likely to evolve.

We still have aspirations for our work recording system, including an early warning system for colleagues who are working too hard and better invoicing. Many of these aspirations have consequences for how our team works together so I’m glad we’ve had a chance to struggle over formulas and design of our tech together.

If you’d like a copy of what we’ve come up with (once we’ve cleaned it up), drop us a note by filling in this form.

Here’s more on our retainer counsel offering:

– Our ‘outsourced in-house’ or retainer counsel service

– Sustaining our ‘outsourced in-house’ or retainer counsel service

– The most active cross-border lawyers around

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