Beyond Zoom Calls and Working From Home. What’s Changed In the Legal Support Industry?

Over the last two years, we’ve been through quite a bit at LSI, as has the legal support industry at large. Between tech rising up to offer new buzzwords and ediscovery challenges with social media, we also faced an unpredictable pandemic that changed workflows and business models. Going into the last months of 2021, we go beyond Zoom and work from home reflections, to ask “what’s really changed, what’s the same, and what will be the lasting effects on the industry?”

Courts closed, but cases didn’t stop. Neither did we.

With courts shutting down and trials rescheduled, the pandemic didn’t stop cases from being filed. Attorneys still needed solutions and support on new cases while simultaneously dealing with high turnover at firms and a drop in support from their in-house litigation support teams. These challenges were a test for companies like ours, as we had to meet the increased demand for cloud-based services like hosted online reviews. Law firms also quickly discovered what companies were legitimate and could provide the necessary consulting.

Covid improved personal leadership for everyone on the LSI team. We now have the best team we have ever had in the past 20 years of operation.

Michael Lopez, CEO

Agile practices are standard in tech companies and are how they continuously overcome challenges to survive and thrive. Agility is not just a reactive response; it’s also a strategic response. Internally, we implemented several agile methods to ramp up our communication and better respond to our customers. Rather than focusing on the unknown, we concentrated on what we could control and even hired new employees to meet our internal demands.

Changing perspectives of time, cost, and processes.

Of course, the immediate change felt by everyone was the new work from home life. What we didn’t expect were attorneys spending more time getting into the databases. This heightened engagement lead to a welcome shift in extended one-on-one time with attorneys, which were more conversational and educational discussions that were previously not possible onsite due to time constraints or firm cultures not always encouraging questions related to discovery. 

Sales calls also changed. We dropped the long presentations to focus on listening first. This change from selling software (let’s face it, they all pretty much do the same thing) and a transactional services mindset, to asking questions first and learning what a firm needs or if what we do is what they need; it guided us to start with building a relationship of trust first.

We improved our visionary agility by recognizing the long-term impacts from how we deliver support to finding a solution for price predictability in ediscovery cases.

Michael Lopez, CEO

Regarding company processes, the last two years have led us to a position of internal restructuring. And it was for the better, both for our teams and law firm customers. One example is invoicing and costs. Historically invoice generation is a dreaded aspect of litigation support. With technical terms that make no sense to the attorney and their client or multiple time adjustments, it isn’t rare for providers to go through invoices line by line before producing multiple pages for billing. Simplifying invoices seemed like such low-hanging fruit, but it’s been one of those “this is just how it’s done” items for decades. We started with the question: Where’s the value for our customers and their clients? This lead us to simplified pricing models with managed services, managed hosting, or a hybrid approach based on per gig pricing for all services and hosting that mirrors the tech sector of software subscription-based models.

Lasting change for the future.

One of the better outcomes we’ve seen in the industry is that firms and attorneys are now more flexible in the way they work and how they work with litigation support companies. We’ve moved beyond the reactive, “what’s the cost to get in the database?” to the relevant, “what does this mean to my case?” perspective. We view this as painting a picture for firms. With an average case staying online for 18 months, communicating reality throughout the entire discovery phase helps attorneys see the complete picture. 

We’d like to believe that the industry has fully embraced the work-from-home mentality. Perhaps “embrace” is too strong of a word, but it’s no longer an absolute that we must be face-to-face with clients and employees to build relationships or provide service at the highest levels. If an attorney working in their pajamas, learning about databases is more engaged in their obligation during the discovery phase, no judging here. 

Attorneys are also now more understanding or willing to learn the whys of discovery protocols and processes. Between countless webinars and zoom meetings, firms and companies supporting their litigation needs have used the opportunity to talk more. It’s not one of those earth-shattering changes, but one that we think will make a difference for the future.