Note: This transcript has been adjusted to improve readability. Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and human transcribers. The context and more than 95% of the actual transcript have been preserved. We strongly encourage our listeners to listen to the audio.
Nicole Giantonio: Hello, I’m Nicole Giantonio, the Chief Marketing Officer at Elevate. The podcast episode you’re about to hear features the Elevate corporate management team members and our functional leadership. To kick off this nine-person podcast, each of our participants will introduce themselves at the beginning of the recording while answering our first question.
Throughout the podcast, I’ll jump in to assist you, our listeners, to further identify our speakers. Let’s join the discussion as I ask the group our first question. When you look at Elevate and the work we do today, what are the two words that describe our contribution to the legal market?
Stephen Allen: My name is Stephen Allen, and I’m the Vice President of Get Shit Done based in the UK. I think I’m uniquely positioned to answer this question, having been a customer of Elevate and now being at Elevate. I’d like to think that we could be described as collaborative and empowering, not only in terms of how we work together within Elevate but also in how we work with our customers and how we support our customers support their customers.
Joyce Thorne: Hi, I’m Joyce Thorne. I’m the Vice President of People, and I’m based in Michigan in the US. My words are somewhat similar – collaborative and supportive. We support our customers, and we also support the development, growth, and journey of the people that work within Elevate.
John Croft: Hi, it’s John Croft. I’m the President of Elevate, and I’m based in London. My two words, unsurprisingly, are law companies. It’s important to note that as well as building an organization, Elevate, we have helped create the third path in the overall ecosystem for the way corporate legal work has been delivered. One of the other words that springs to mind is ecosystem.
When we started, people looked at us and said, “Who are you, and what are you going to do? Are you a threat to me and my law firm? Or me and my law department?” We were always clear from the start that we were looking to support the whole ecosystem. Stephen, you were just talking about collaboration and supporting the ecosystem that includes the partners, that includes our customers, it includes their clients, bringing efficiency and better ways of doing things.
Steve Harmon: This is Steve Harmon. I’m based in Park City, Utah, and I’m the General Counsel and Vice President of Global Services. My input is that the ecosystem allows integration. Elevate offers a broad, integrated platform for delivering the outcomes our customers focus on. They need the output; they don’t need to measure the inputs. The ecosystem we’re a part of allows us to deliver a breadth of solutions that enable the customer to get the outcome they need.
Sharath Beedu: I’m Sharath Beedu. I’m based out of San Francisco, California. I’m the Vice President and General Manager of the Products Business at Elevate. I want to take a phrase out of Star Trek, “Boldly go where no one has gone before.” So, my two words, if I had only two words, would be bold and collaborative.
Myriam Schmell: Hi, I’m Myriam Schmell. I’m the Vice President of Global Sales, and I’m based out of the East Coast of the US. I would follow what Sharath said, and I think we bring audaciousness and fearlessness. We question the way everything is done in a way that nobody else does.
Simon Heyrick: Hi, Simon Heyrick, based in Los Angeles, California, and I’m the CFO. Going back to what Liam was saying and my first conversation with him before joining the company. “This is obvious. Why has this not been done before?” And not to be hubris about it, but from my chair, that was something that really attracted me to the company. The word that I was thinking, which resonates here, is practical. We have practical solutions.
Bud Phillips: This is Bud Phillips, I’m in Virginia, United States, and I am the CIO of Elevate. Some of the words that I think of when I think of Elevate are mindful and grounded. Being mindful of the legal ecosystem and how it’s worked for a long time. Being grounded in our understanding. This ecosystem can evolve and change in ways that are practical and are more valuable for customers and people experiencing the legal system as an element of how they see justice in society.
Nicole Giantonio: I’m Nicole Giantonio. I’m the Chief Marketing Officer here at Elevate. I live in New York City, and my two words are transformative and smart. We are transforming the legal industry, and what we do is smart.
Liam Brown: Hi, I’m Liam Brown. I’m the Chairman and CEO, based out of Los Angeles, California. My words are deliver differently. Deliver goes to some of the practical, get-shit-done aspects of what we do. Not only doing things differently but as John touched on, different career paths or different participants in the ecosystem or legal sector. Because of that, differently for us also includes people with different backgrounds. We’re a very multidisciplinary organization. Different, especially recently, can have particularly negative connotations in society. When I think about Elevate, different leads to thinking differently, as well as the cosmopolitan make-up of our company.
Nicole Giantonio: Our next question is, from your specific chair, what is the most exciting thing you expect we’ll accomplish in the next two or three years? This next section features our President, John Croft, with commentary from our CEO, Liam Brown.
John Croft: The most exciting thing that I think will happen to our organization over the next couple of years is that we will be considered boring. It’s been really fun for the last ten years, breaking down barriers that we found in front of us. But I feel that between us at Elevate and a bunch of other people, what will be interesting and rewarding over the next few years is if we could scale up and become the normal way of doing things. That everyone understands the legal ecosystem we keep talking about, that it is clearly defined. We stop getting called “alternative legal service providers.” We just are legal service providers, like law firms are, like in-house legal teams are. There are different ways of doing this work.
Liam Brown: When you say that, John, I know that when you talk to software companies in legal, or consulting businesses in legal, or services businesses in legal, the conversation for you is about law-company, and I share it. If we call ourselves alternative and we allow the media to call us an alternative, and we allow customers and other ecosystem players to call us alternative providers, what we’re really doing is we’re all tacitly embracing the fact that what we’re doing isn’t quite as important as, or quite as good as, and we don’t really deserve to be here. Our culture acknowledges that we can’t really make a difference by ourselves. Being a lawyer at Elevate is not sufficient to solve the problems we’re addressing.
Elevate alone cannot make a difference in this multi-billion-dollar market. We need the people that we compete with to also be successful so that we can, as a larger community, think differently about solving these problems. The way that we’ve solved them in the past is essentially applying expertise, billed by the hour. It’s been fit for purpose and continues to be fit for purpose for whole areas. Many thousands of us in different organizations are coming together with different experiences, different ideas, a different way of doing things. We can make a difference, and our contribution is valuable, and we deserve to all be here together; we ultimately will have sector-wide improvement.
Nicole Giantonio: Now, our VP of “Get Shit Done,” Stephen Allen.
Stephen Allen: If I could just build on that, Elevate supported me in co-founding the Bionic Lawyer Movement, and we made a very audacious statement, which I think goes to show everything that Elevate stands for, which is, if you work in the legal industry, you are a bionic lawyer. It’s a definition of what you do and what you contribute, not who you are and what you are qualified in. That was a very keen decision for us, both on an organization level, but also with the people we employ and others in the industry employ.
The idea that you are a contributor to the global good through your presence and your efforts are key. I think in terms of Elevate, and what’s exciting for us, Elevate is being seen as the value creator in the ecosystem, which is a really key position. We’ve got the opportunity to do it because of our DNA and how we constructed the people on this call.
If in two, three years, other people can see what we see – and we’re already starting to see that with our key customers – if other people can see what we see, the Elevate is the value creator. Even on a huge piece of work, where we become the Intel Chip inside creating value, we see the play. We see the connection. I think that is the most exciting thing that we can achieve.
Nicole Giantonio: Next up is Steve Harmon, our General Counsel and Vice President of Global Services.
Steve Harmon: Revisiting the concept of boring in a statement where we’re asking about what is exciting, I reflect on predictability and that being a virtue. Predictability is something that customers want far too often and for far too long. I think the law has been characterized, at least partially, when the risks are indeterminate, and you’re asking someone to balance those risks. That’s true about various portions of the law, litigation being the classic example, but much legal practise should be very predictable.
It shouldn’t be exciting to figure out how a mergers and acquisitions transaction is going to come about. It shouldn’t be exciting to hear how a commercial negotiation is going to happen, and it certainly shouldn’t be exciting to find out what is in your own legal agreements. You should know that. You should have that information readily available to you, and the way that gets delivered is through a combination of experts leveraging technology. These expert-led technology-driven solutions allow us to provide a level of predictability, to routinize the practice of law, to become standardized, to become another part of the delivery chain—the supply chain for the products and services that our customers are offering. If we make law boring, that will be incredibly exciting.
Nicole Giantonio: Now we hear from our VP of Product, Sharath Beedu, and our CFO, Simon Heyrick.
Sharath Beedu: Elevate aims to bring together both value creation and predictability. That’s where I want to bring in technology and drive innovation with automation, AI software, then push the legal industry to be a more standardized and interconnected, interoperable ecosystem—tying together the various points that we made.
Simon Heyrick: From my chair and my colleagues, in the CFO chair, we’re not going to keep increasing the legal department spend. At a certain point in time, everyone is going to say, “Why do you need to hire more people? Why is your outside counsel spend just increasing?”
We have a plan to be public in the next few years and going through that IPO process right now. We don’t get much coverage outside of the legal press. But, going for an IPO, the general press will be more interested, and the law company name will get out there in more of a general sense than it is currently. The IPO process, I believe, will be educating investors about what we do, and I think the alternative word will begin to fall off, and the law company will rise to the surface as we go through this process, and we mature as a public company.
Nicole Giantonio: Simon, one of my goals is to make our brand synonymous with expertise and customers seeing value for their legal spend, for their legal dollar.
Simon Heyrick: I love the way you’re thinking about that from my perspective, Nicole.
Nicole Giantonio: That was me, Nicole Giantonio, CMO, commenting on brand alignment. Up next is Myriam Schmell, our Vice President of Global Sales.
Myriam Schmell: My voice is typically the more practical and tactical, so no surprise to everybody, when I look out a couple of years, I think of more. I say, “Elevate, who?” And “Law company, what?” will be a thing of the past. All the things that you guys are saying, we’ve been fighting the battle, we are part of the solutions and part of the ecosystem.
What we’re going to be focused on is more. We’re going to solve more problems for people because problems will continue to evolve. Beyond what we’re solving for today, we’re going to have to solve different things tomorrow. There’s going to be more things to solve, and we’re going to be the ones to do it because we have this propensity to go where other people are more nervous to go. We’ll go there because we evolve with our customers. I think we’re going to continue to push that envelope.
Nicole Giantonio: Comments from CEO Liam Brown.
Liam Brown: So that gets to the heart of what I think specifically is achievable over the next two to three years. What we’ve done in the first ten years is a lot of foundation laying. We spent the first decade building a global service delivery footprint and integrated global service delivery platform that has follow-the-sun capabilities, multi-language capabilities, business continuity capabilities, all built on info secure, tech-first distributed management team and infrastructure. An Agile, scale, services organization that has operated in a range of areas, contracts, disputes, legal operations, IP, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Another thing that we’ve done, particularly in the last couple of years, is we’ve built an expert organization, both in terms of our lawyering and law firm capabilities, our own alternative business structures, our ABS in the UK, our Elevate Next strategic affiliate in the US. We’ve assembled domain experts, Senior Law Department lawyers with lots of experience in particular industry sectors. Experience solving specific problems as experts who have walked in the shoes of our customers. We’ve also attracted senior lawyers from law firms, alongside our consulting experts covering technology, change or program management expertise.
We’ve got this global services platform, and we’ve built this expertise organization. The other thing over the last couple of years that we’ve been working hard on is building the digital scaffold for how law departments and law firms will work differently. I think in the next couple of years, we’ll go from software point solutions that we developed for each of our businesses, whether it’s our contracting software, our invoice review or e-billing software, or our workflow management software or our dashboarding software. We’ve been working on building one integrated enterprise legal management software tool.
Why are we doing this? We’re doing this because what we’ve learned over 20 years of delivering differently in the legal sector is that it is critical to not only have the expertise, not only have the process and service capability, but it is also critical to provide the digital scaffolding, the software scaffolding that allows our customers to work differently. That will ultimately lead to a flow of work transactions; if I can use that word, moving back and forth across this ELM software scaffolding that automates work, that allows people to have a better understanding of the nature of requests, who’s doing what, etcetera. That ultimately will lead to data that provides insights, is actionable and even provides predictive automation.
I bring this up as my answer to the question. It’s really hard to see what even the next few years will bring. It’s hard to see the iceberg under the surface of the water when we’re all focused on the shiny white tip of the iceberg that can appear threatening above the surface. It certainly gets people’s attention. We’ve done a lot of work over the last decade. In the next couple of years, I expect to see more fully integrated solutions for our customers, whereas, in the past, we’ve tended to offer customers Lego blocks of our capabilities. They buy the software, or they’ll buy consulting formats, or they buy some services.
More and more, I’m delighted to see customers start to say, “Look, here’s our problem. You figure out how to do the lawyering part of this. You figure out where the work needs to be done. You figure out what software you should use to actually do that.” I think in the next two or three years, we’ll see the investment we’ve made over the last decade pay off in more and more customers buying fully integrated solutions from us, and I think software will be at the core of that.
Nicole Giantonio: Once again, Stephen Allen, VP of Get Shit Done and commentary from CFO, Simon Heyrick.
Stephen Allen: That’s right, legal is an industry that has developed point solutions to everything, and it’s developed point solutions because legal has never thought of itself as a process, or legal has never thought of itself as a continuum. And what increasingly people have been finding, “Hey, I’ll buy this piece of technology. I got to do a lot of stuff before I use it and then have to do a lot of stuff after I use it.” That makes the technology; whilst it does that one thing well when I’m trying to solve the problem, it doesn’t really get me from A to B a whole lot quicker because there’s some busyness before and busyness afterwards.
The industry is waking up to the need to have, I’ll use the word connected, but they don’t care if it’s connected or not. They want a seamless, end-to-end solution. To have things work together and not to have a kind of stop-start series of point solutions, which solves a problem but cause problems around them by them being disconnected.
Simon Heyrick: But Stephen, I think that is just the natural maturation process of technology. I use my own practical world of finance, go back, I don’t know, I’m dating myself, but 10, 15 years. You had point solutions in the finance department that did X and Y, and it’s only been in the last ten years, even the last five to seven years, where those things have been integrated and then talk to each other with single sign on. If you go and look at other areas, HR is probably something similar in the people organization, the way those HRIS systems had become integrated over time versus ten years ago when they were all point solutions. I think that it’s the natural way.
Stephen Allen: There is a challenge with legal, and I think this is why being in legal, we have our different perspectives. In so many other processes, you have a single actor. If A happens, then B happens, and then C happens. When we’re working with our customers, generally they’re working with a customer of their own, and then often that customer has a counterparty, and that counterparty has a lawyer, and then if you throw in a regulator or a court or whatever, you have a series of actors.
I think one of the reasons legal has been slow is because there are a number of forces on the individual process, which, even if they agree it’s A, B, C, and D, they’ll disagree the order in which those things must happen. By us bringing this multidisciplinary approach of, “Well, look, this works, and this works.” And using our market knowledge to say, “And actually, if you do them in this order or you put these things together, or you have this flex built into your process, we’re able to solve those particular problems.”
Nicole Giantonio: You know, it’s interesting, Stephen, having worked most of my career in HRO, BPO, ITO, every industry went through this challenge… obviously, finance went through it, as well. The idea was to ensure that we were working to smooth anything that was consistent, and the exceptions were still exceptions.
Our next question talks about, “What does Elevate look like ten years from now?” I wrote down Workday for Legal because Workday combines technology and services.
Liam Brown: I’m so with you. We used to call Elevate “Accenture for Law” when we started; we landed on using that as a descriptor. I’ve often described what we’re trying to do with our ELM as Success Factors for law or Workday for law. You’ve nailed it. We’re looking for a short-hand way to describe ourselves. When I talk about a short-hand way of describing us, what’s the elevator pitch or the lunch pitch? There is something in the Elevate story that we haven’t quite landed on that is a short-hand way of describing ourselves. One term or Workday or Success Factors for law. As an evolution, these all resonate with me.
Nicole Giantonio: Back to our president, John Croft.
John Croft: The important part of history is that there were only two options. There was only ever a law firm or in-house lawyers, and there were just two options.
Nicole Giantonio: Next, Sharath Beedu, VP of Products.
Sharath Beedu: I want to think of us as potentially a Salesforce for law. If you ask me where Elevate would be purely from a software technology point-of-view. I expect Elevate will be an 800-pound panda, not a gorilla, and a leader in software and services. Solving big problems for customers on both sides of the ecosystem. In ten years, we will go into interesting segments, and it is yet to be seen what those segments will be. Companies based here in the valley have always found an adjacent as Amazon or Salesforce or Workday. That’s what I think we will be ten years from now.
Nicole Giantonio: Comments from our CFO, Simon Heyrick. Then, our CEO Liam Brown.
Simon Heyrick: If you learn anything from Salesforce or Workday, this is not a 10-year journey. Ten years ago, Salesforce was still not a perfect solution. Things evolve. Even in 10 years, our ELM is going to be in a state of evolution, and we’ll think it has a long way to go. Ten years is a drop in the bucket.
Liam Brown: There are so many things to do to make a difference in legal. And at the scale that legal is today, and it’s only going to grow as business embraces more, what we call, law in the core. It’s not lost on me that there is a continuing increase in demand for legal services, law in the core of business. Because there’s so much, we’ve got to accept the reality. We can only work on some things. I love the ambition. I love that.
I also want to be practical about that balance between what we can do and where we could make a difference. We can run a differentiated race, not only a different race. Elevate can be the winner or one of the premier providers in a handful of problems that customers have. Maybe a handful’s too small a term, but not everything. Acknowledging that we need human capital, that we have attention as a constraint, we have financial capital as a constraint. I want to make sure that we stay sequenced and only bite off what we can chew and digest.
I know there’s a lot of pressure to do faster. I want to make sure that we can do it in a way that delivers winning results, and we can do it in a way where we have financial partners that are committed to our vision and our mission. That’s not all financial partners. I tend to see this a bit to Simon’s point; I tend to see our aspirations are going to be way beyond ten years. They’re going to be the sort of multi-generational change that I think is going to happen in legal, and we’re going to be only one of those players. We’ll remain one of those players if we are clear about the things that we are really good at and we focus on, and we’re clear about the things that we should identify others to partner with whether it’s a law firm, a law department, or other providers. I would love to see Elevate seen as a well thought of, well-respected. I’ve never thought of Panda, but a well-liked member of this ecosystem.
Nicole Giantonio: Terrific insight from Liam. Now, our VP of Get Shit Done, Stephen Allen.
Stephen Allen: I think it was Bill Gates, Liam, who said, “We always overestimate what we can achieve in a year, and thoroughly underestimate what we can achieve in ten.” I think that’s your point, and I think if we bear that in mind, we will get there. If we’re realistic about achievable, deliverable targets that are customer-centred, that are focused on value, trusting in that is bold. To Myriam’s point, a fearless approach to the market. Whilst it may feel that we’re not going to get as far as we thought we might get in a year, in 10 years, we’ll be so much further down the track.
Nicole Giantonio: Our Global Head of Sales, Myriam Schmell.
Myriam Schmell: I look out ten years, and I say, “We could be a half a billion-dollar company. We could maybe be a billion-dollar company if we stay focused.” Because that’s the point, yes, I believe we are fearless, and I believe we should continue to be fearless, but fearless doesn’t mean do everything. We’re at this inflexion moment where we should and can be a billion-dollar company. We should do that in the places that we can absolutely excel, and we should say no to the places that would be a distraction because maybe we could do it, but it would take away from another category that we could actually convert. I think that’s a hard balance.
But there’s no reason that we should not be that half billion, billion-dollar company because these markets are tremendous. We’re still going to play in a market with many other competitors who we can partner with within the light, and they can get their three and 10 billion, and we’re still a success. So, I think it’s that vacillation of figuring out, “Where are those places to place bets and go after them big? Where are those places to partner? And where are those places to say we could do it, but we’re not?” And that takes a strength of character, that when we test things, we’re afraid to say no.
It takes a test of character to say no, and I think we should just be as proud of ourselves for the things we say no to. Even if, at the end of the day, someone else turns that into a revenue stream or into a solving of a problem, we’ve turned ten other things in, so what if we leave one behind? We beat ourselves up because of this, we need to drive everything for our customers, and I think we must let up on that so that we can excel in those other lanes. And then the world is our oyster, Panda, whatever animal you want to choose, the amount of opportunity that we have because of all the foundational work that’s already done is endless, and that’s the excitement of looking out ten years of doing what no one thought could be done ten years ago and turning that into what is now already a market but turning it into a mega-market.
Nicole Giantonio: Comments from our CEO, Liam Brown.
Liam Brown: You said a lot of things that have resonated. One of them is, we’re almost a $100 million business this year. Now, after ten years, I look at what is at the heart of our business. So much of our first decade has been on; I’ll use the word innovation, which is a word I’m careful about using; it is at the heart of our DNA. Customers would ask us to solve lots of complicated problems, and we would then take those solutions to a couple of other customers, and we’ve built businesses on the back of those. We have a habit that I think we’re better at in the last couple of years, but our DNA does tend to look for that next challenging problem to solve.
While I hope that we have a percentage of our business still innovating, I really do believe that we as a management team will have to be disciplined about putting more time and attention and focus on improving, scaling, and improving our services for customers. There have been moments where we have invented things that have then been commercialized, if I can use that term, by others. I think we’ve got to be better at sticking with the things that we’ve invented, really see if there’s a scale market behind them, and then grow that. Make sure that’s a larger part of our business. We won’t achieve our aspirations to really make a dent if we’re constantly in the lab. You need to have a lab, and I love that part of our business, but we’ve also got to make sure that we are really commercializing, industrializing, and scaling some of those inventions.
Nicole Giantonio: Additional commentary from our CEO, Liam Brown, and the improvement journey our functions are on, like the journey of our customers within the legal industry.
Liam Brown: Legal professionals, trying to build what we and some others call Modern Law. Simon as CFO, and Bud as CIO, Joyce in People, you talk about this, and you, Nicole in Marketing, Myriam in Sales are on decade-long journeys of implementing a constellation of solutions that in your domains people, marketing, sales, finance, technology, look just like what we’re trying to do in Elevate when we’re facing customers. You are implementing things like Service Now. You’re implementing things like Salesforce or NetSuite or Workday. As the CEO, it’s interesting to observe the journey you’re all on, bringing modern marketing, digital marketing, data marketing, and you have to have experts, marketing experts, content experts, etcetera. You have to have process and services scale capability. You have to have integrated technologies versus point solutions that you cut and paste between. I’m over-simplifying. I’ve seen you go on that journey, Nicole. I’ve seen Simon; you’ve been going on that journey. Tools and capabilities in the finance organization are the same things in people, etcetera.
I don’t think law is that far behind. And what I mean is, yes, it’s a decade behind in some ways. It’s not like law is in the Stone Age, and the other businesses are in the Nuclear Age. I really think that law is catching up quickly, and I think that in 10 years, it will be considered normal for Steve, with his GC hat on, Simon as the CFO, Joyce in People, Myriam in Sales, Nicole in Marketing, Bud in Technology, all of you will be at the table, including Steve. All of you will expect your systems to be much more people, process, technology integrated, moving at speed and with the agility that I would like us to.
Frankly, I’m under pressure from customers, from our people, from investors to achieve. I’m pretty sure that in 10 years, we’re going to look back at 2021 and smile about how clunky it was. It goes exactly to Stephen’s point about Bill Gates’ “It’s amazing what you can achieve in a decade.” Many of our customers will look back in 10 years, in 2021, as it was clunky, but it was inevitable. Things will get better; things will move faster, things will be more digital, things will be more multidisciplinary. There will be more focus on outcomes that will be expected.
The discussion and debate about law firms billing by the hour, of course, law firms will continue to bill by the hour for whole swathes of business, and that will be exactly the right way of working. That they’ll continue to be very successful, growing very profitably for massive segments of legal, as John said, no one will think twice though about the fact that there are law companies working with law firms and law departments that bring this integrated multidisciplinary, what we call expert-led, technology-powered solutions to the table that get jobs done. No one will think anything other than that’s the way that we do things here, in the same way, that’s the way we do things in marketing, or that’s the way that we do things the people organization.
Nicole Giantonio: Now, our CTO, Bud Phillips.
Bud Phillips: Liam, a lot of what I think about from a CIO perspective is how we’re going to evolve our ability to seamlessly mix and match different elements of technology and process. Different elements of where people are. How we’re going to simply mix and match that into a seamless solution in a timely way for the specific ecosystems that our customers are in.
We talk about things generally, legal ecosystem, etcetera, etcetera. I look at things more specifically, and I see the things that you describe today as a little bit of a clunkiness. I see us removing that friction and removing that clunkiness and being in a situation where it’s quite normal to bring in this tool, this utility, this operating system. These people in this part of the world use this different process instead of ABC; it’s DCB. I see that as something that we’ll be able to get to so that we’re much more broadly thought of as a solutions integrator resolving specific problems or specific challenges or specific things that our customers want to achieve.
Nicole Giantonio: Back to Sharath, our VP of products.
Steve Harmon: Great point, Bud. I was surprised when I moved into legal with Elevate, the amount of innovation and all these different point solutions. There are different areas of the process that are being automated by innovative start-up companies. I think the natural progression from that is what you said, Bud, about connecting them together, having a more unified experience, and then using the data that comes out of it. The data is going to give you the insights and give you the feedback loop to improve the process to improve what you’re doing. That’s a natural progression I’ve seen in other industries., I think it’s the same kind of progression we’re going into, but I agree that the legal industry is not that far off. It has quite a bit of automation but in silos.
Nicole Giantonio: Now, Stephen Allen, Vice President of Get Shit Done.
Stephen Allen: We’re talking a lot about the how and the what… What are we going to do, and how are we going to do it? I think the biggest change you’re going to see in the future; my prediction is the why. I think the legal industry, and I think the technology that you’ve been talking about, Bud and Sharath. Sharath, you touched on this point in an earlier answer. We’re going to move from a reactive industry that clears up the proverbial once it’s hit the fan to being a proactive, predictive industry which nine times out of 10 can put up a block and stop the thing hitting the fan or even stop it being flung in the first place. The reactive mass litigation or the reactive mass investigation the dealing with the forest fire will become less and less, and the predicting or timely dealings of bush fires can become more and more, whether that happens in the next ten years or the next 20 years, it remains to be seen. That’ll be when legal truly changes, not when it looks at the how and the what, but when it looks at the why of what it’s doing.
Nicole Giantonio: Stephen, it’s not better, faster, cheaper, right. It’s different. It’s done differently. We had some aha moments in this last year of seeing some of our competitors in the industry doing things in a truly different way versus just doing them better, faster or cheaper.
Liam Brown: I do feel like the last ten years, for me, the last 25 years, has been getting to Base Camp. Twenty-five years ago, it was imagining how legal could be done differently. In my own experience, starting the first business and learning from that was the idea of the Himalayas. That was in the first dot-com wave.
The first decade of the 2000s was building another company, and that was very much getting to Nepal and gathering the funding or gathering the materials, logistics, the team to get to that next stage. I look at this last decade that we’ve walked from Kathmandu to Base Camp, and that’s taken a long time. So, okay, we’ve got this team of expert climbers who have climbed other mountains around the world. We are at the base camp. We’ve got logistics. We’ve got a plan.
And the next decade is where we actually make a difference. I’m aware that along the way, we’ve got to navigate what happens to be a public company, as an example. There are going to be challenges that we have to navigate. This is why we’re here. Personally, selfishly, I look at it as this next decade is going to be a wild decade for Elevate, and I’m going to try to enjoy this next decade. It’s a wild decade for the whole community, other law companies, law departments working differently, law firms running a different race. It’s going to be a wild time, and I try not to think too much about what happens after that because I’m aware when each of us get to the top of our own personal Everest, there’s always going to be another mountain. That’s when we will hand the baton to our colleagues who will be the next leaders, next innovators, the next get-shit-doners in the legal sector.
Nicole Giantonio: This leads us to our next question and our first answer from Elevate’s President, John Croft. “What is the “go forward” future of Elevate?
John Croft: I just wish I was ten years younger. You’re right; I think the 10-year blocks of my career, even if I didn’t quite realize it at the time, have been these sorts of steps towards now. And I do feel that this is an exciting time for us and that everyone else has sort of finally got what it is that we’re talking about.
Society and weirdly, everything that’s happened over the last 18 months, whilst it’s been incredibly challenging and difficult, there are some elements of that that have helped to prove, for instance, there is not only one way of delivering work. You don’t have to put on a tie and go to an office in London or New York, or wherever. I just wish I was ten years younger because I think there are lots still to do, but it’s going to be a great next ten years.
Nicole Giantonio: Now, back to Sharath, our VP of Product.
Sharath Beedu: From my perspective, it’s a great opportunity to be on the leading edge of an industry on the cusp of technology-driven disruption. And it’s not just us saying that. If you look at Gartner and all the reports, everybody is expecting the technology to take off in legal. Having been part of such disruption in healthcare and travel, I always look back at those experiences as the most fulfilling, both personally and professionally. I can still point to, “Hey, that line of code, that’s probably my code still running that 20 years later.”
Nicole Giantonio: Our General Counsel and VP of Global Services, Steve Harmon.
Steve Harmon: Yeah, I’m optimistic that we’re truly hitting the tipping point, a term coined by Gladwell. A lot of the preparatory work has been done. Once you reach this tipping point, you start to reap the benefits, and the things that were initially described or viewed as leading edge and innovative reach the scaling stage. I think the comfort levels that customers have with the law company, law firm, legal department triumvirate, and there’s a fourth capability that will be added into this, eventually leaving people with the ability to routinize and move on to solving the next unique problem. We’ve seen this happen in other industries; we’ve seen it happen as described today.
We’ve seen it happen in accounting, seen it happen in IT organizations, there are a baseline set of capabilities available, and people see the benefits of integrating those. Building blocks become the next new thing, and I’m excited to see what the next new thing will be. We’re at a point where driving things to scale is what’s likely to happen in the next ten years.
Nicole Giantonio: We wrap up this session with our CEO, Liam Brown, raising the topic of talent.
Liam Brown: Just before we close, any thoughts on talent in a decade? One of the things I like about the Big Four having entered the space is that in the past, we’ve literally had two choices we can hire experienced people from law firms and law departments who have typically only had limited experience. They’ve got great professional skills, but they’ve typically run this different race at a law firm or a law department. Some people can bring some dogma to Elevate, but that’s really been the source of experienced talent. Or we’ve recruited people earlier in their career and taken our time to develop them. This is a career path that is fulfilling, particularly if you are outcome impact-oriented. We use the term, T-shaped professional, to describe an interdisciplinary orientation. In a decade, there will be a lot more supply that are really interested in what we’re doing. That will fuel growth in a decade.
Nicole Giantonio: Comments from Joyce Thorn, our VP of People.
Joyce Thorne: Liam, in my opinion, to Stephen’s earlier point about his program to develop the bionic lawyer, we’re the only ones doing this sort of thing right now. In 10 years, there will be many different places to recruit trained talent, even entry-level talent that we need to train from the ground up. There will be people coming in from universities who have studied a more holistic version of the practice of law that includes things like leadership skills and customer and operational excellence in organizations.
There will be a legal path to that. There will also be the opportunity for people that are following other paths of education to engage in unique training opportunities for the legal profession that don’t require having a JD or heading towards having a bar admission. To your point, Liam, the industry will offer us more opportunities. We’ll be able to take advantage of the development happening across industries and be able to recruit. Picking up people who have followed a more aligned path of education, there’ll be more programs available for sure.
Nicole Giantonio: With that, we’ve reached the end of our time. We hope you enjoyed listening in on this leadership conversation and heard valuable information about Elevate, our company’s future, and the legal services industry. Once again, this is Nicole Giantonio, the CMO at Elevate. Thank you for listening.