Ari Kaplan not too long ago spoke with Early Stephens, the CEO of Actionstep, a observe administration software program developer that serves regulation corporations worldwide, about its newly launched survey, 2023 Midsize Legislation Agency Priorities Report, which focuses on probably the most outstanding priorities and developments impacting authorized groups.
Ari Kaplan: Inform us about your background in your position at Actionstep.
Early Stephens: I’ve a advertising and pc science background and spent most of my profession operating numerous elements of software program firms. I started my profession as an engineer or a programmer and have served because the chief expertise officer of a publicly traded software program firm. Ultimately, I moved to product administration, advertising and gross sales. Most not too long ago, I used to be the CEO of an enterprise information analytics firm, the place we helped Fortune 100 firms with their digital transformation journey earlier than the corporate was acquired. As Actionstep’s CEO, my job is to make sure now we have the fitting folks and priorities, in addition to a robust monetary well being profile, in order that our prospects can proceed to depend on us to energy their corporations.
Ari Kaplan: Why has authorized observe administration software program turn out to be so essential to operating a contemporary regulation agency?
Early Stephens: The No. 1 cause is that their shoppers anticipate it. You order groceries out of your cellphone and also you pay your payments on-line, so that you anticipate that very same stage of sophistication in all places. It’s a aggressive market wherein corporations are competing for a similar shoppers, and they should stand out. They need to work together and have interaction with their shoppers the place their shoppers function, so the whole lot must be linked and share the identical workflow. As extra professionals work remotely, corporations finally have to have a centralized hub for his or her information.
Ari Kaplan: What distinguishes Actionstep from different platforms in the marketplace?
Early Stephens: Actionstep is constructed for midsize corporations and may be very configurable. Midmarket authorized practices evolve and develop by including observe areas and teams, so that they want software program that may flex to help not solely what they do at the moment however to handle their wants tomorrow. Our No. 1 differentiator is our Actionstep workflow, which permits customers to tailor how they deal with their instances and workflows. In actual fact, lots of our new prospects are sometimes corporations which might be attempting to develop and progress.
Ari Kaplan: Why did Actionstep fee its new 2023 Midsize Law Firm Priorities Report?
Early Stephens: There’s not sufficient information centered on that market, so we partnered [with] a analysis agency within the U.S. and sought solutions to many frequent questions that midsize corporations share. We needed to seize onerous information on developments and challenges that impression most corporations that we serve.
Ari Kaplan: What priorities and developments are most outstanding at the moment for the regulation corporations you studied?
Early Stephens: Greater than half of the contributors cited figuring out new income alternatives as their high enterprise precedence. In a tie for second place had been managing the price of doing enterprise and recruiting and retaining expertise, that are important for progress. Additionally, recruiting and retention relate to staff who more and more have to handle a number of roles and numerous duties whereas balancing billable necessities with administrative duties. And as consumer service expectations change and turn out to be extra elevated, it’s accelerating the digital transformation that many corporations are experiencing. In spite of everything, modernization is as a lot a change of individuals as it’s about expertise. Curiously, our analysis revealed that increased self-reported stress correlated with fewer distant work choices in a agency, whereas these with versatile working circumstances reported decrease ranges of stress. When it comes to expertise funding priorities, doc automation and administration and authorized course of automation had been the main initiatives. For those who can remodel sufficient handbook work, you’ll be able to improve consumer service.
Ari Kaplan: Did any of the outcomes shock you?
Early Stephens: There was a correlation between contributors who reported that they spend an excessive amount of time on nonbillable work and those that report stress. One factor I discovered attention-grabbing is that greater than half of the respondents said that they thought expertise was both barely essential or in no way essential in attracting and retaining, which is prone to shift more and more given the expertise expectations of youthful professionals.
Ari Kaplan: Has your management type modified in your position at Actionstep as in comparison with working in prior industries?
Early Stephens: I’ve tailored to position by balancing a fast-growing firm in an trade that’s present process lots of change whereas sustaining a robust buyer focus. In a few of my prior roles, it has been the other, the place everyone seems to be super-customer-centric and never as occupied with progress, however there may be simply a lot demand proper now round modernization in authorized. I’m, due to this fact, centered on aligning our staff on implementing processes and protocols to make sure that we’re serving our prospects and employees as we develop.
Ari Kaplan: How do you see authorized observe administration evolving?
Early Stephens: There are a number of macro developments, equivalent to incorporating AI or ChatGPT into observe administration, however it’s too early to make a prediction on that topic. Finally, instruments that free professionals to work at [a] increased stage are on the horizon. What we’re listening to and seeing now could be platform isolation and our information helps the rising frustration amongst professionals who have to enter information in a number of disconnected methods. Legislation corporations have a tendency to make use of a fragmented set of instruments and consolidating them into fewer instruments is a key pattern. We see platforms evolving into extra of an ecosystem method, the place work is completed in a single system, however customers can work together and share it with different complementary instruments. We’re transferring towards a single supply of fact. Given the present price pressures that regulation corporations are addressing, we see a much bigger give attention to producing extra worth from an current portfolio of instruments, quite than shopping for extra expertise. In response to this motion, we launched Actionstep Academy, which is library of content material, together with movies and self-help assets to help regulation corporations of their modernization journeys.
Editor’s Observe: Actionstep is the sponsor of Ari Kaplan Advisors’ The Digital Lunch, which is unrelated to the Reinventing Professionals podcast however is hosted by Ari Kaplan.
Take heed to the whole interview at Reinventing Professionals.
Ari Kaplan frequently interviews leaders within the authorized trade and within the broader skilled providers neighborhood to share perspective, spotlight transformative change and introduce new expertise at his blog and on iTunes.
This column displays the opinions of the creator and never essentially the views of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Affiliation.