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- A ClariLegal interview with Vincent Cordo
By Cash Butler and Jeff Kruse. The terms “trailblazer, pioneer, and innovator” are overused buzzwords. But the terms truly apply to Vince Cordo Jr. Before becoming a true innovator in the delivery of legal services, Vince was a member of internationally touring rock bands. He knows what it takes to be a star and to be successful. A Natural Transition to Legal Services Vince did not start his career in the legal field. Rather, with his MBA from the University of Liverpool, a background in economics, and a Masters Degree in Technology Management from Columbia Business School, Vince is not an ordinary legal services provider. Early in his career, Vince was a data scientist working heavily on data mining. During that period, he worked at two startup companies that provided key services in the legal space. One company focused on time management software, and the other on records management. Both opportunities allowed Vince to work very closely with in-house legal teams supporting core innovation in the early days of what is now legal operations. In those roles, Vince played “a hybrid role” as a technologist who interfaced with clients. In that hybrid role, Vince worked hand in hand with the lawyers, human resources professionals, and information technology specialists employed by his clients. By necessity and innate skill, Vince developed the vital ability to communicate highly technical information about software solutions to his customers, the in-house legal teams. In essence, he became a “universal translator” so that legal and business teams could understand technology, and he could help with the installation of the technology and provide key client support. Early Role with Law Firms Because of his unique ability to translate and implement technology, one of the law firms with which he had worked offered Vince his first stint working directly in legal services. The firm knew it had a “service delivery need” and Vince filled that need as the Chief Information Officer. At first, Vince’s role at the firm focused primarily on technology, but the role transitioned into client support, pricing support, and innovation. The role evolved in part because of Vince’s capability to understand the needs of the law firm’s clients and to develop solutions to fill those needs. For example, Vince recalls that one client had a need to better understand knowledge management. Through his exceptional ability to read the room, Vince recognized that the client needed a better grasp of operations within the legal department, and he and his team were able to help the client meet its needs. Over the course of his first two decades in the legal services arena, Vince worked at several multinational law firms. During those years, Vince had the good fortune to collaborate with numerous like-minded individuals and their teams from various corporations like Jeff Carr at Univar, Leanne Geale , EVP and General Counsel Nestlé S.A, Maurus Schreyvogel at Novartis, Connie Brenton at NetApp, Justin Ergler at GlaxoSmithKline, Ritva Sotamaa, General Counsel at Unilever, Sam Bernstein at Amazon, Greg Kaple at Kaiser Permanente, Jason Barnwell at Microsoft, and Lisa Hart Shephard CEO Acritas just to name a few of the people who influenced Vince’s journey for creating a vision for the role of strategic legal operations in delivering value in legal services. In-House Experience After several years working at those three major law firms, Vince found an opportunity to grow his legal operations skills in-house at Shell New Energies. While at Shell, he served as the Global Sourcing Officer, Central Legal Operations Officer, and ultimately as the Head of Global Integration and Compliance. In these roles, Vince managed a team of over 30 operations professionals responsible for pricing strategy and negotiations, legal project management, legal budgeting, business intelligence, compliance, metrics, and much more. During his time at Shell, Vince’s team won an Association of Corporate Counsel Value Champion Award for a implementing a large-scale counsel convergence program. That project resulted in significant annual outside counsel rate reductions and an impressive overall external spend cut of 25 percent. Diversity and Inclusion Diversity and inclusion are important concepts to Vince. While at Shell, Vince helped drive the charge under Legal Director Donny Ching to establish diversity and inclusion metrics for the General Counsel (GC) for Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) initiative, and he regularly spoke on the topic in various events throughout Europe. Return to a Law Firm Earlier this year, Vince left Shell and joined Holland & Knight LLP as the Chief Client Development and Relationship Officer. Vince is uniquely qualified for this role. He has been a vendor in the legal services space. He has been an operations leader for multiple law firms. And most recently, he has been an in-house legal operations innovator. In short, he has seen legal services delivery from all sides and is now using that vast perspective to deliver value for Holland & Knight clients. From Vince’s viewpoint, “more than ever, global companies are looking at ways to expand in the states and all over the planet. These companies need help to adopt technology and processes and especially need help making these changes part of the fabric of their organizations.” In his new role, he is helping “allied professionals support the harmony of the dance of the delivery of value.” For instance, instead of just helping a client implement a new technology solution, he is also focused on helping the client capture important data from that solution that might help the client’s bottom line. Another aspect of his new role involves cross-pollination in the delivery of services for clients. Rather than the siloed delivery of legal services, Vince is identifying opportunities for clients to use additional technology or harmonizing supplementary offerings to add value in the delivery of their legal services. Another aspect of the value harmony includes bringing in younger talent on matters for knowledge continuity and talent development. Value To Vince, value is about “impact and results.” Delivering value means providing positive impacts on the bottom line of the business. Vince believes that value results from “the delivery of services executed in a way that is the most efficient and effective manner for the better outcome of the client.” Essential to the delivery of value is the need for alignment. Service providers need to be aligned with the interests of their clients. For Vince, value has three pillars. The first component of “value is understanding the right balance of savings and economic enhancement for both sides.” The second aspect of “value” is an understanding of client relationships and team loyalty. Team nurturing and loyalty is necessary to prevent “team erosion and make sure the team continues to deliver excellent service at the same high level.” The third facet of value is an awareness of branding and marketing to highlight how everyone in the organization contributes to value delivery. Importance of Data Understanding data is important for understanding value in the delivery of legal services. Data is such a vital aspect in the value equation that Vince and Jaap Bosman wrote the book, “Data & Dialogue: a relationship redefined.” In that book, they explain the need for both the clients and the service providers to communicate clearly about data analytics to drive efficiency and value. In the book, they discuss the “Value Matrix” which can provide a workable model to establish value price points. Showcasing Value Vince believes it is important to be “bold and brave in showcasing how you impact the business.” For instance, early in his experience in legal services, Vince recognized the importance of using key performance indicators to demonstrate value and impact on the bottom line. Vince appreciated that his clients identified key performance indicators (KPIs) in their financial statements. So, he transferred those KPI concepts from his clients’ financial statements into his legal services space. Specifically, he mapped his clients’ KPIs so he “could show how he and the legal team were positively influencing those KPIs.” A key to showcase value is to move the discussion away from hourly rates and cost. As he notes, “People will pay for efficiency and would pay $10,000 an hour for a project if it could be done in an hour instead of a hundred hours.” Thus, the discussion about value should focus on how the legal services positively impact the client’s business and how the services are delivered in the most efficient manner for the client. Key to Success in Legal Operations To be successful in legal operations, Vince believes that you have to make the emphasis on delivering value “organic to the culture of the organization.” In his experience, one of the biggest challenges is making the emphasis on value “more than just a fad.” The focus on value has to be “embraced throughout the organization so that it becomes part of the culture and the fabric that organization.” He credits the in-house Shell team for adopting that mentality and making the three pillars of value a part of the culture throughout the team. Broad Perspective on Requests for Proposal Vince has been on all sides of requests for proposals (RFPs). At the startups, he was on the vendor side responding to requests. When he was in-house, his teams prepared RFPs, and he evaluated vendor and law firm responses. When he has been at law firms, he has helped respond to RFPs. In short, Vince knows the RFP process. To respond to RFPs successfully, Vince emphasizes the need for good writing. According to Vince, “you need to tell a well-written complete story from the first question to the one hundredth question and to weave key concepts like innovation throughout the responses.” The entire response needs to be cohesive and the responding firm needs to “pay the right focus on the value throughout the entire response.” Vince notes that when law firms respond to RFPs, typically teams or individuals divide up responses to different sections of the RFPs. But for Vince, the total response needs to be “coordinated and cohesive and not siloed.” As an example, Vince points to the TV show “Ink Master.” On Ink Master, sometimes multiple tattoo artists are given the specific sections of a single tattoo to complete. But to win the competition, the finished product must look like it was done by one artist. To Vince, the same is true for RFP responses. As he notes, “a client does not want to see 50 different perspectives. The client wants to see one perspective.” Because he has seen every side of the RFP process, Vince understands the need for efficient and effective technology-enabled RFP, procurement, and business development processes to drive value. Corporations and law firms must understand what they need to provide accurate targets for service providers. Likewise, law firms need to identify client prospects and get access to corporate customers via open and actionable RFPs. With his background in data, Vince is currently looking at ways to use data analytics driven by Artificial/Augmented Intelligence (AI) to identify opportunities so he and his Holland & Knight can be ready to help potential clients immediately. Advice for the Delivery of Value in Legal Services Diversity of thought it crucial for success in the modern delivery of legal services. Organizations must “respect ideas and individuals regardless of their level or title.” To be successful, legal services providers need to “be open to all the ideas regarding how they can move the needle of value no who has the idea.” Vince believes it is just as important to recognize the ideas of the data and technology team members as it is to appreciate the ideas from the lawyers. Because the team is “here to provide value for the client, it is important to listen to all of the input on how we can help the client.” Disclaimer: The statements of the interviewees in the Value Article Series are opinions and observations of a personal nature and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and policies of their respective employers. About the Authors Jeff Kruse (T) is President of Kruse Consulting and Dispute Resolution LLC where he consults with law firms and legal departments to help them operate more efficiently through technology implementation and Lean Six Sigma to improve their bottom lines. He specializes in assisting firms and companies on the RFP process. www.kcadr.com Cash Butler (B) is the founder of ClariLegal A seasoned legal technology innovator, Cash has over 18 years of experience in the legal vertical market, primarily working in eDiscovery, litigation & compliance. Cash is an expert in legal vendor, pricing and project management. ClariLegal is a preferred vendor management platform for legal services that improves business outcomes. Made for legal by legal experts. We match corporations and law firms with preferred vendors to manage the work through a fast and complete RFP and bidding process. ClariLegal’s platform allows all internal client segments to improve business outcomes across the board – predictability, time and money. Learn more #CashButler #JeffKruse #VincentCordo #value #ClariLegal
- Is The Future Lawyer A Bot?
The coronavirus pandemic has transformed the way every organization works. Across the world, businesses of all sectors and sizes have had to adapt to keep their teams safe. As a result, social distancing strategies have appeared gradually. In places where a physical presence is necessary, personal protection equipment, perspex glass, and visit limitations have become the new normal. For businesses where tasks can be performed digitally, remote working options have emerged. For legal service providers, the pandemic has brought a digital revolution, encompassing not only a change of workplace environment but also a dramatic change of mindset. Lawyers have been forced to review their assumptions on how legal services can be delivered and consumed. But this change of attitude toward legal services also brings new concerns for lawyers. In a world where digital technology plays a significant role in the legal ecosystem, can legal firms streamline their processes with more technology, such as AI and bots? Unsplash - CC0 License Can a bot solve your legal cases? A surprising question that some people can brush aside with a smile, but the truth is that robots are able to “solve” legal cases. In the UK, law students created an AI program that can predict the outcome of legal cases. The team ran an experiment and compared the prediction of the computer vs. those of lawyers. Unsurprisingly, the AI won hands down with an accuracy rate of over 86%, while lawyers had 66%. The team used PPI (payment protection insurance) cases for the test, using data crunching and analysis to get results. Tech experts agree that for data-powered cases, digital technology is quicker and more effective than lawyers. Ultimately, it makes no doubt that AI programs outperform humans in data-centric contexts. There could be an opportunity in the future to rely more on Ai programming for simple cases that can be solved through data analysis. Estonia has been experimenting with AI to judge small claims since 2019. The biggest concern, however, is how people would react to bots joining the legal system. Is it a profitable investment? However, it can be difficult for legal firms to consider the introduction of client-facing digital technology in their day-to-day processes. A robot in the office could be an investment where the costs outweigh the return. When it comes to the gradual introduction of legal AI, it’s essential to consider the break even point formula, which in essence calculates how much use you need to get out of the legal bot before it delivers profits. With the formula in mind, it is safer for legal firms to pave the way to technology with simple and inexpensive solutions, such as a legal chatbot. Unlike PPI cases and small claims courts in the examples mentioned above, a chatbot doesn’t need to solve or predict legal cases. On the contrary, lawyers can use the bot to provide ongoing legal information and optimize work processes. Profit can be measured by how much time you save for other activities! Is there room for digital technology in the legal business? The answer is yes. However, it will be impossible for a bot to replace a lawyer. As such, legal experts do not need to fear for their future. On the contrary, bots can provide a time-saving and accurate approach when it comes to data analysis, document generation, and legal information. Working with bots would mean that lawyers can dedicate more time working with and for the people who need their expertise.
- Make 2021 the most successful year for your small business
By Nita Sanger. There is a Chinese curse which says, 'may you live in interesting times.' I am sure that we will all agree that 2020 has been very interesting. The current market conditions have created an inflection point in our society, significantly accelerating the adoption of technologies to meet better meet personal, social, and leisure needs, run a business, and even work remotely. As we move into 2021, forward-thinking leaders (CEOs, Board of Directors) of small and mid-sized businesses should use this "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to make strategic bets to grow revenues and gain market share, by nimbly meeting evolving customer needs, expanding their go-to-market footprint, and competing more effectively with some of their larger, less agile, competitors. At the same time, opportunities exist to reduce costs and improve the bottom line, by optimizing operations and talent models. Below are a few steps for leaders to take to position their business for success in 2021. 1. Look Outward, Reexamine - The business environment, to identify if there are shifts in customer needs, competitive landscape, regulatory environment, new technologies, etc., and their impact. Ascertain if these market shifts provide an opportunity or a risk to the business and how best to leverage them to your advantage. The key is to relentlessly focus on understanding consumer needs and identifying optimal ways to meet them. 2. Look Inward, Reassess - The firm's product/service offerings, including the technology to develop and support them, go-to-market strategy (customers, sales channels, sales team, products/services), business operations, and talent skills and capabilities, to determine the changes that need to be made for continued revenue growth. Product/services offerings - Examine the existing product/services being offered, and identify what changes need to be made to increase current customer retention and grow the customer base. Determine additional service offerings to provide consumers, and opportunities to move to a recurring revenue model (as relevant), which are more valued by investors, i.e., through a subscription, as-a-service, managed service model, platform/ecosystem play, etc. The technologies needed to develop a new solution, or a recurring revenue business will also be critical for success. Go-to-market strategy - According to a Bain study, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. Traditionally leaders tend to focus on making their business development and sales force teams more effective to grow revenues, through customer segmentation, setting revenue targets, establishing KPIs for calls/sales ratios, revenue targets, service metrics, etc. At the same targeted marketing efforts, and social media are used to reach customers. It is critical to align and optimize the sales force, customer support, and marketing teams. Today, leadership has three additional options for growth: build, buy, or form strategic alliances. Each has its pros and cons. Building new solutions or services requires co-creating solutions with clients, testing, iterating, and then finally rolling out the new product or service. Developing and launching a new product can take significant time and money, and returns can be slow. Firms often tend to buy businesses, with adjacent offerings, to get an immediate jump in revenues. This approach is being used extensively by many PE-funded firms but can be time-consuming for leadership to first identify potential targets, execute the transaction, and then successfully perform post-merger integration. Another approach for growth is to form a strategic alliance(s) with firm(s) that offers complementary services to the same customer base or to become part of an industry or market ecosystem. While this option can provide significant access to customers, there is a risk of potential disintermediation from the consumer. While using any of these options, leadership has to ensure that they do not "take their eye off the ball" from running the day-to-day business. Business Operations - Most firms require several functions to effectively run the business, such as operations, finance, legal, risk and regulatory, procurement, technology support, real estate, etc. There are now alternate approaches to business operations, with providers offering these operations As-a-Service. In addition, there is a lot of experienced talent available for "fractional" business and operating roles. Leadership should examine how each of these areas has been impacted and determine the approach they want to take to run them more efficiently and cost-effectively. i.e., whether they need to be onsite/offsite, in a shared service center, outsourced to a low-cost provider, sent out as a managed service, etc. Talent: Leadership needs to take a hard look at the business leaders and determine if they have the right talent in place, or they make need to make changes to the existing leadership team. Then a similar process will need to be done for the rest of the employees. The four main business capabilities the leadership team needs for growth are: industry/product knowledge to determine the products/solutions to offer that would best meet the changing needs of the market and the customer, technology to develop and deliver any service or product offering, and/or to evolve the business/sales model, and sales & marketing, to sell to customers, and a combination of strategy, operations, and execution to help develop the approach for growth, manage the 3. Reengineer - the business for success. To effectively position the business for growth, a single member of the C-suite, potentially the Chief Operating Officer (COO), should be made responsible for driving the changes. This individual will guide, co-create and execute the strategy that the CEO and the Board of Directors develop, and then orchestrate all operations within the firm, and with external business and service providers, in addition to forming strategic alliances, and executing on any acquisitions and post-merger integrations. In conclusion, the focus of leadership should be to take advantage of opportunities in the current environment and have a relentless focus on growing revenues. All activities that are not core to revenue generation, should be optimized, leveraging alternate business and talent models, with a single member of the C-suite (potentially the COO) acting as the orchestrator of all the activity. There is no single approach for a firm to take to position itself for success. The approach that each firm takes would depend on its current market position, products and services offered, business model, leadership team, funding sources, and its vision for the future. To discuss this article further, or for additional information, please contact me at email@example.com. Additional articles on how to transform your business can be found here the role of leadership in a business transformation, transforming business operations, transforming the go-to-market strategy and approach, tried and tested tools, processes, and techniques. About the Author Nita Sanger is the Chief Executive Officer of Idea Innovate Consulting, a boutique strategy consulting firm focused on accelerating growth of firms in Professional, Financial and Legal Services. #NitaSanger #strategy #legal