Peer to Peer: ILTA's Quarterly Magazine

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49 I L T A N E T . O R G Sweetheart Pricing Startups love to have Big Law customers vouch for them, and the hardest customers to reel in are the first ones. As an incentive to sign up with an exciting yet unproven product, Super-Early-Adopters tend to get extremely competitive pricing. In my experience, that favorable pricing will often carry through after year one, paying dividends over time and mitigating the risk of a product that could underwhelm. BFF-Status Start-ups rarely forget the people who gave them a chance early on, and those friendships will often continue to grow once they reach widespread, commercial success. The professional and personal relationships I continue to enjoy with the leaders of legal tech startups are especially warm, and as an added bonus, have resulted in numerous unnecessary but greatly appreciated benefits over the years (client development opportunities, peer-to-peer networking, sneak previews and early access to their newest product lines, speaking engagements, social events, and more). Marketing Buzz Naturally, both law firms and legal tech startups love good buzz. Press releases, articles, case studies, and presentation opportunities often tout the exciting exploits of a Super-Early Adopter and its vendor, especially when the vendor is doing something novel in the A.I. or data analytics space. When your firm is highlighted as being "innovative" in top-tier legal and business publications, you've hit the jackpot – and clients, prospects, and colleagues take notice. I would be remiss if I didn't discuss the elephant in the room, the natural counterpoint to the benefits of Super-Early-Adopter status. Certainly, there is risk of taking a chance on an unproven product, often by an unproven company: it could be a failure. It is a risk, for sure, but one that can be mitigated. First, it goes without saying that Super-Early-Adopter Status should be thoroughly vetted and not entered into blindly, especially in this economic climate. Only take a chance on a legal tech startup with a product that helps meet an important business need and is likely to result in a strong return on a modest investment. Second, scrutinize the start-up and product sufficiently, and insist on a thorough pilot (and not merely a PowerPoint presentation). If they are confident in their product, they should have nothing to hide and will Evan Shenkman leads the Knowledge Management, Innovation, and Library functions at the 400+ attorney labor and employment law firm Fisher Phillips, chairs its Innovation Committee, and won the 2020 Legal Innovator of the Year Award (Litera, Changing Lawyer Awards). Before entering the KM field in 2011, Evan was an AV-rated Shareholder and trial lawyer who litigated labor and employment matters for over a decade. His responsibilities now include harnessing the power of A.I. and data analytics to the benefit of firm attorneys and clients; creating processes, practices, and software to allow firm attorneys to work smarter, faster, and more in sync; creating internal and client-facing collaborative tools; and introducing innovative technologies and approaches to help the firm and its clients thrive in the modern workplace. Evan frequently writes and speaks on KM, Library, and Legal Innovation topics, and has overseen the KM, Marketing, Process Improvement, and Finance tracks at ILTACON for years.. be happy to offer a pilot. If they push back, that is a red flag that it likely is not worth the risk. I have never regretted passing on a startup not offering me a pilot, and many startups who took that approach are either no longer in business or no longer actively marketing that product. At the end of the day, my experiences as a Super-Early- Adopter have overwhelmingly been positive ones. While results may vary, there's one easy step that costs nothing and bears no risk whatsoever: answer that cold call and check out their demo. It could be the gamechanger. ILTA AND: There's more! Look for a SPECIAL edition ILTA Publications PODCAST from this article in PART 2 of the Summer issue of Peer to Peer!

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