It was one week before the legal industry’s main tech conference, Legalweek. For the past two years, the LawGeex team of lawyers, engineers and data scientists worked day and night, enhancing and revising our contract review automation platform. We had received plenty of amazing feedback about cost and time savings from in-house lawyers. But we had not yet invested substantially in marketing and nothing close to the upcoming investment of a presence in front of 10,000 attendees at a top legal conference.
But, a week before the legal conference we still had no tagline for our booth, which represents the “shop window” at an event. Our objective was to have a slogan for our stand which connected as directly as possible to the pain points associated with contract review. But we were aware of traditional viewpoints that lawyers are risk averse and have a “fixed mindset“. We needed a marketing brainstorm to find a suitable message.
Our main concern centered around how direct could we be to an audience of lawyers? Lawyers, we are told, focus on the past and precedent. They are gradually moving to a new direction, away from pinstripes to sweatshirts, but are we there yet? How much could we push the envelope?
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— Erik P.M. Vermeulen (@erikpmvermeulen) January 23, 2017
The initial part of our phrase, “Hire a Robot” symbolizes the fun and non-threatening approach to technology. It signifies hiring help for lawyers to end the robotic routine processes in reviewing and approving contracts. We then came upon the phrase “Hire a Robot. Get Sh*t Done.”
It came about as someone, said during the brainstorm: “I think what we are essentially saying is that lawyers are passionate, know that they add value and basically want to “get sh*t done’”. Though we laughed and toyed with many other taglines, we kept returning to this catch-all phrase. It effectively sums up the direct approach we heard from time-strapped in-house clients who wanted to do more with their day. Reviewing standard business contracts is not why they went to law school.
The Direct Approach
But would the poop hit the fan when we tried our message with lawyers? Urban Dictionary helps us understand the phrase. The crowd-sourced dictionary of slang words (which is even relied on in court) defines ‘get sh*t done’ as the will “to accomplish things and stuff”. The site helpfully gives an example: “I really need to concentrate on getting sh*t done these next few weeks.” It plays to the problems of small and medium-sized legal departments who want to skip the mundane, and get on with higher value, more strategic work. It is one of a number of hard-edged life quotes which are made into posters. These quotes appear in high-tech offices such as in Silicon Valley (others are ‘Life is Short. Do Stuff That Matters’) showing innovation and disruption.
LawGeex’s own team of experienced lawyers of all jurisdictions and backgrounds (who teach and train our A.I. system and carry out quality assurance) were divided. One camp said lawyers are incredibly bound to tradition and even a sniff of controversial language was “not appropriate” . The counter argument is that actually, though a little bit shocking at first, it is really a correct assessment of what lawyers’ priorities are today.
Did the Sh*t Hit the Fan?
Fast-forward to the conference, and in short, almost everyone who passed by the LawGeex booth smiled as they read the slogan. The direct message, and being true to our product’s value, was not lost on our audience. One in-house lawyer (we hope will soon be a client) adopts the same type of slogans in his legal team as motivation for his team to think differently. True, we’re preaching to an audience of innovators in legal, but in our view the acceptance of a new tone is a big step in a new direction.
Our experience suggests that we should push boundaries. It is a philosophy that has worked for others in adopting legal technology. Chicago-based Seyfarth Shaw uses the direct approach in its lean-management principles. The firm drives revenue growth of more than 20 percent through offering this direct challenge to lawyer’s problems. Kim Craig Managing Director of Lean Solutions at the law firm says: “The really critical outcome was when one of our partners asked the general counsel: What keeps you up at night? The General Counsel replied that he’d never heard a law firm ask him that, except during open bids for new business. It turned out that what he really wanted was a better work-life balance. He hoped that better processes would let him spend fewer hours worrying about work. It’s amazing to realize that these changes can actually improve someone’s quality of life”.
Being direct is part of our makeup as a new company that lives by and encourages transparency. We face constant direct questions from top investors and top legal experts, and from our super savvy clients. This ensures at every step we must be simple and direct. We also build our product to be simple and easy to use.
So our ‘controversial’ message returns for our next legal conference, 2017 Mid-year ACC Meeting (2-4 April) in New York. We look forward to seeing you there. Our tin robots will be available again (in case you missed out last time), along with key rings and stickers.
Our message is clear: we help legal teams automate the review and approval of standard business contracts, using Artificial Intelligence technology. We make in-house legal work easy, efficient and impactful, letting you focus on the big picture instead of getting lost in the paperwork.
Now, if there was only a more direct way of saying that.
Jonathan Marciano, Communications Director at LawGeex, is originally from London. He is currently in Tel Aviv, helping to bring about the legal and robot revolution, one press release at a time. Follow him on Twitter. @J_Marciano