Welcome to The Optimized Law Firm Podcast, where we chat with legal pros who can help you run a more profitable and enjoyable business.
This week we’re talking with Mat Rotenberg of Dashboard Legal. He’s created a really smart product which helps lawyers run their day-to-day operations more efficiently, effectively, and profitably. As an attorney, Mat was spending an absurd amount of time sifting through emails, hunting for documents instead of doing the actual legal work: and that’s why he created this solution.
Listen in as we talk about how to improve your daily workflow, deliver a better client experience, and save money on labor costs.
What’s in This Episode?
- Who is Mat, and what is Dashboard Legal?
- What tools can small law firms and solo practitioners use to save time and ease the challenges of running their firms?
- What’s the current landscape of legal technology?
- How should attorneys go about choosing the right legal technology for their firm?
I think the issue is not so much all new tech products or incorporating them in is bad necessarily. I think it’s just you kind of have to pick the ones that have the most impact and not try to have something for everything. Right. And that’s a challenge we’re dealing with literally today. We were talking about it earlier that you kind of want to figure out, the way I try to think about it as well in my own work is what are the things that I’m doing on a daily basis that it’s the same thing, it’s a repetitive thing. Right.
And can I find a solution that will either aid me, do some of the prep work, do it all kind of in that process? And I think if you think about it and kind of what’s the thing that I do every day that sucks up my time is relatively binary in terms of a decision. It’s either a yes or no kind of thing. And that may be checking on deadlines of cases. Are you doing that manually or could it better be done with, like, a Trello board right with notifications or something?
So I think it’s just, like, equally kind of a mindset shift. And then you do have to kind of find the right tool, though, because we’ve gone through four different project management tools, right? Until we found the one that kind of worked in our system, and it works for different people. Some people kind of like this column structure that Trello does, other people like other ways.
So I think if you’re looking to improve your technology stack, it goes a long way to look, kind of try it out for yourself and think about your workflow, what you put is the highest value in terms of the functionality and go from there instead of relying on what somebody else uses. Because I think even if we’re friends, right, you’re going to organize your thoughts in a completely different way. It’s got to be custom.
To match your workflow. Yeah. And I think you’re right that it does differ based on workflow and finding a tool that helps the way you work makes the most sense. And then we’ll succeed. I like when you said, what are you doing every day? What are the tedious tasks that you’re doing every day, which was the core of Dashboard Legal. I’m dragging and dropping emails into different folders. Why am I spending my time doing that? We automate that process. Why I’m spending my day searching my inbox toggling between folders, trying to find that piece of information doing that every single day?
Why am I doing that? What’s the solution? Well, just how’s it in the different boards so you can find it. That’s where we started too. And I think that’s where lawyers who are looking to embrace legal tech that those are the questions they should be asking themselves as well.
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Very cool. So kind of on this thread with productivity and work, you know, just work life, how you deal with it on a daily basis. Are there any thought leaders or just people out there that have influenced you that you would recommend other attorneys, you know, that they should be interested in reading if they’re kind of looking for some of the benefits we’ve been talking about?
Yeah, there are a few that I think are really that are really hitting the mark in terms of what we’re talking about and thinking about the future of legal practices and how lawyers can improve their processes. The first is the most preeminent legal tech scholar in the world, and his name is Richard Susskind, and he’s written a whole host of books on how from the 1980s talking about how email would displace paper communications. And interestingly, there’s a great story where The Legal Academy of Wales denounced him when he made that pronouncement, that email would be the future of client communications.
They said that he didn’t know what he was talking about and that he was bringing the profession into disrepute. I mean, that’s a sidetrack, but he’s got a great books out there. He just wrote a book on the future of the court system happening virtually virtual courts. So he’s been forward thinking for 30 years. I think that’s the first stop.
There’s a few others. The CEO of Clio, actually, Jack Newton came out with a book called The Client Centered… Make sure I know what it’s called here before I get this wrong. The Client Centered Law Firm. And he speaks about the importance of the experience, which is what I referenced earlier, the experience of the client interacting with your law firm. His premise is that for most legal services, the product is the same that you’re getting the document, you’re getting the will, you’re getting the whatever it is. The experience is the difference maker. And to the extent that lawyers can improve that experience to the client, that’s where they’ll succeed in the future. So I would encourage that book as well.
And then one more. There’s an author named Michelle DeStefano, who does a lot of really great writing and research on collaboration and how lawyers can kind of break the mold of being tech resistors to innovators and how to innovate for the future lawyer. Yeah.
Speaking of tech resistors in Wales, that made me think of, you know, that it was going to denounce the profession. I know some of my dad’s friends who just can’t stomach the idea of having a website, where I think the olden times…there were just more stringent, I think, guidelines about not being able to advertise and stuff like that. But it’s just I think there’s a set of people who kind of pine for the old days and are not interested in dealing with the market as it is today.
You mentioned the attorney that help you with your incorporation and getting that set up and kind of his process around flat fee. Are there other attorneys working attorneys and people you’ve seen that kind of influenced you to build these systems and build a solution? Are there any out there that come to mind that are kind of very forward mentality in terms of, I guess, the operational side of their practice?
Yeah. I mean, speaking with lawyers every day now, multiple lawyers every day. And there are a lot of forward thinking lawyers out there, ones who understand conceptually that innovation can help their practice. That innovation is driving the legal profession forward, not replacing lawyers. The problem is they haven’t seen enough products that actually do anything. They’re still relying on email.
What I found is there’s this kind of amorphous understanding that legal tech is the future, and that it’s there to help, but a lack of concrete developments. So unlike the tech space generally, where there are a ton of innovators and people coming out with things all the time, there are much fewer attorneys who are actually making the break from law to develop legal tech products.
I think it’s going to become more prominent, but it is rare at the moment. There’s a few… Haley Altman who developed this Doxly product. She came from a partner, she’s a partner at a law firm in Indiana. There’s another article that was published in Law.com about this lawyer, I don’t remember her name at the moment but we connected on LinkedIn. But she is developing wills and estates tech product where you kind of just pop in the information and it pops out the will. So I think lawyers are thinking about it, and there are innovators in the space. But the more important piece of it is that more and more lawyers are aware that it can be helpful. They’re just waiting for that actual product.
Make sense. Cool. So I’ve got kind of last question for you and it’s really kind of going on this, I think what I’m taking away a lot is that the right tools, the right solution can have a big impact and improve these, like tangible and non tangible benefits or aspects of our life. I guess with that in mind, is there anything we didn’t talk about that you feel like your product addresses or just that you think is important to bring up for solo small firms who are kind of in that challenging position that we laid out?
Yeah. I mean, I think that we’ve covered most of it. But what I’d say is that lawyers, solo practitioners, small law firms need to be thinking about innovation in their firm and thinking about how to improve the processes to deliver to the client. At the same time, it doesn’t need to be revolutionary. It doesn’t need to be this crazy, transformative program or process that changes the way you practice law. It’s really the incremental process improvement that will make the difference to your clients. And ultimately to your law firm.
And if you can focus on those processes, you will be able to compete in the future. So if it’s automating those day to day tedious tasks, it’s finding a better way to stay organized and collaborate with clients, which is what Dashboard Legal does. It’s harnessing new tools to ease the flow of both information and friction between you and your client. Docusign, auto bill pay, maybe even a shared drive where you share documents. Or I can look at the same document edit in real time. There’s a whole host of ways that you can make these subtle, incremental improvements to really enable your practice to compete in the future.
Very cool. Well, I really appreciate your time and I thought this is a really fascinating conversation, made me think differently about a couple of things in services and products we might do in the future as well for attorneys. Yeah, I want to get you on record, though. Will you do the podcast intro? Since you’re a music man?
Of course, I will definitely compose and produce the intro for Constellation Marketing podcast.
Well, so you can probably the only we’ll see, but the only guest I know of that’s going to come in that you can find them on Spotify, but you can also find them at Dashboardlegal.com.
And where are you at? I know you’re looking to get people into the what’s the best way to connect and just make sure they’re staying up on what you guys have going on and get into that pipeline so that they can take advantage of Dashboard Legal solution right now and kind of what it’s going to become over the years, for sure.
Yeah, I can be reached at Mat with one T at dashboardlegal.com. And I love hearing from lawyers. I love talking to lawyers about their tech stack, about how they handle the client delivery experience, and for innovative lawyers who are out there who want to take advantage of some of the really lightweight benefits the Dashboard Legal can provide. I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to reach out. We’re taking lawyers to participate in the beta, we have a really solid foundational program up and running.
You can connect your email, you can use the board. You can chat with colleagues and store documents there, so the product is up and running and we’re looking for people to come and try it out with us. So if you’re that forward thinking lawyer, reach out. Very cool.
I appreciate it. And thanks so much for coming on.
Awesome. Great chat with you as always. Patrick, let’s talk soon. Alright.