Mar 24, 2022

Filevine Head Futurist Dr. Cain Elliott Discusses Contract Lifecycle Management

Full Transcript

Jared Correia:  Welcome my friends to yet another addition of the Legal Tech Non-Eventcast exclusively from, you guessed it, Above the Law. I’m your host, Jared Correia as always and legal tech is my bag. As almost everyone knows, lawyers aren’t exactly early adopters of technology. And for many attorneys the prospect of a traditional tech conference triggers only thoughts of boredom and make some breakout into hives over missed billables. That’s why we’ve launched the Above the Law Non-Event to bring the technology conversation direct to lawyers. And if the Non-Event is a virtual conference center, think of the Non-Eventcast, this podcast you’re listening to right now as your main stage panel. I’ll be hosting sessions on a wide variety of topics with the new coverage area each episode. Every episode of the show, we’re going to talk legal technology in plain English and our podcast format is geared to meet the crush of your fully booked schedule.

Today, we’re going to discuss contract management software with a representative from one of our partners in a Non-Event. As our panelist is aware, our goal here is not to pitch you but to help our audience understand the benefits, options, and latest developments in the space. We have a great guest for you. Making another appearance on the podcast, it’s my good friend and yours, Dr. Cain Elliott, the head legal futurist at Filevine. Cain, thanks for joining today.

Cain Elliott: Jared, it is my pleasure. I cannot get away from these things. I think you’ve got listed here that this is number five.

Jared Correia: Yes. I think you’re like in Steve Martin, Tom Hanks territory, if this were Saturday Night Live. I need to get you a gold jacket. So you’ll have to send me the sizing information. It’s about time.

Cain Elliott: I think you do but we’ll make it a puffer since I’m out in Utah.

Jared Correia: I can do that for you. No problem.

Cain Elliott: Yeah.

Jared Correia:  So you’re at Filevine but one of the reasons you’re on the show today, we’re talking about contract lifecycle management. Filevine recently acquired Outlaw which is a contract management platform. That’s right.

Cain Elliott: That is correct. Outlaw is… Actually the platform itself I’ve been following them for several years. So as my colleagues know internally, I’ve been a big advocate of what we do and the importance of contract management for legal. And one of the things that I think everyone cares about in the legal profession that you and I have talked about before in previous episodes is how you control your work product. So that’s why it’s such a central idea around here and why I’m so excited about what we’re doing with that. And the ability for people to get on CLM or contract lifecycle management platforms and utilize.

Jared Correia:  That’s why you’re the head legal futurist. Are you ready to go?

Cain Elliott: The hell, let’s do it.

Jared Correia: Let’s do it. All right. So has many of us easy to get overrun with contract, there are so many freaking clauses, so much to keep track of. It’s certainly a special subset of law practice management and document management. And with the sophistication of modern transactions, trying to handle all that stuff without software is just a losing battle. Of course, this was many things in modern legal practice, it helps to find the right technology for the job. And while that may sound like just another project that gets laid in your lap, we’ve started this little podcast here to help you make better choices around legal technology. So let’s talk about the attributes of contract management software and how it can help your law firm. But before that – skiing. Cain, you are a skier and a snowboarder. How’s the power been this year.

Cain Elliott: Awful. If you needed confirmation that global warming is here even if you’re a conspiracy theorist, you wouldn’t fail to note that since the new year we’ve had about one or two good days of snow.

Jared Correia: Man, that’s awful. You must be struggling out there, and you’re in Utah, too.

Cain Elliott: Yeah. We’re in Utah now. The skiing and snowboarding, when you don’t have a lot of fresh snow it means you focus on the skiing instead of the snowboarding.

Cain Elliott: Yeah. It was a unique thing to do here but we really had a strong opinion. And at least I did and managed to convince the rest of the team to share the strong opinion that these things do belong together. And really, again, what’s the key for us is that legal drafting as a whole has to get better. Your agreements, you want to feel more secure and better for that. And you want to have an organization that’s with you as a partner that feels like they have enough bandwidth and enough experience and background to help you make that transition because nothing feels so personal as transitioning your documents to different spaces. Whether it’s about storage, how they’re drafted, all of that feels like it’s so wrapped up in people’s, not only their practice, but their identity. People get very close and attached to the font they chose for their letterhead. This is a non-trivial item for some people. And it really matters that we can work with people and they can trust that we know how to do this. And we’re committed to helping them transition how they’re doing them.

Jared Correia: All right. That’s good to know. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this and now I feel a little bit embarrassed, but I don’t ski or snowboard. Well, I do cross country skiing but that’s not really skiing in my estimation.

Cain Elliott: That’s athletics for sure. But it doesn’t feel like-

Jared Correia: Well, barely. So I tried to ski when I was in my early 30s and it was a disaster. Children were pointing and making fun about me.

Cain Elliott: Did you hit any children?

Jared Correia:  No children were injured but several children skied over me. It was really embarrassing on the bunny slope. So I stopped that. So we’ve got a condo up in New Hampshire in between a bunch of ski resorts. So I’m taking my son who’s 10 for his first skiing lesson. He’s going to do two private lessons in a couple weeks. So I’m going to have him listen to this. What tips do you have for him? A young man on his first skiing adventure.

Cain Elliott: Yeah. First of all, keep it clean since you’re going to play it for your son. No, I would say the old rule of thumb that never gets old is make sure you’re bending your knees. Tell him to bend his knees. The main way people get hurt though, is by being afraid of speed and turning. And then especially for kids, it’s very popular to try and ride down the whole hill, staying in the, I think they call it the pizza [crosstalk] your skis pointing together. But if you want to actually enjoy it and feel safe and secure, you want to get used to really turning and pushing into those turns instead of pizza-fying down the hill. So I would tell him, don’t be afraid of speed. You’re young, the bones are supple. They’ll heal. Lean into it. Bend the knees and just try to enjoy having fun with it. Don’t get scared. It’s not unlike what we tell new associates. Don’t get scared. You’re unlikely to get hurt, maybe.

Jared Correia: I like how you brought it back there. A little different crashing into a tree, committing malpractice. I’ll let you know how it goes. That sounds like your-

Cain Elliott:  Insurance for both though, Jared.

Jared Correia: Exactly. Yes. All right. I’m sorry. We have to stop talking about skiing and snowboarding for a second. Filevine, we talked about the acquisition of Outlaw, contract lifecycle management software. You also acquired Lead Docket previously, which is a CRM. And I know that you were one of the drivers behind acquisitions like that. So in terms of the Outlaw acquisition, why did you feel it was so important at the time you did it to make that acquisition?

Cain Elliott: So I think that documents and legal drafting are right at the core of what legal professionals do. And I always say that the most important thing that we’re trying to do is get rid of any divide between a database of record and a document. Your documents are… They should be living items in legal. They’re how you conduct your work. Most of us who do any legal practice, we’re never going to actually go into trial. Although that’s what you’ll see on TV and movies all the time. Most of legal work is happening all the time in the documents. They’re rich artifacts and living statements that we utilize to do the work. They’re the tools of the trade. So I always feel like the more we’re doing to improve the core of the tools of the trade, the better we’re doing as an organization and the more fun it is for all of us.

So contracts are such a key, a core element for what people do and genuinely, I want newer better all the time, improving tools for legal drafting. I think legal drafting is an awful state. I often compare it to the transition everybody made from word perfect to word and the pain everyone expressed about that.

Jared Correia: Everybody’s here is messed up. You’re talking about Word Perfect.

Cain Elliott: They were perfect. Actually the state of New York still puts in their guidelines for filings to the state still shows code from Word Perfect in those filings. Yeah. In the submission guidelines, it still gives you some of that code.

Jared Correia: Reveal codes, baby. Yeah, go ahead.

Cain Elliott: Yeah. And the things that everybody talks about that transition is being so dramatic. But the thing that really stands out to me is, it’s a transition from something that wasn’t really made to fit for legal, to something that definitely wasn’t made to fit for legal. So those of us who are doing tech, we got to do better than that. If this is the lifeblood, these are the tools, we’ve got to be more creative than that. So what was really essential to us here at Filevine was the idea of, can we make sure we’re part of the future of legal drafting, not a part of how to carry on the past of legal drafting that everyone’s doing, but it doesn’t mean they’re very happy with it?

Jared Correia: And the other thing I want to note here is that there’s something to be said for using technology like this and unifying different aspects of it. So it’s a big deal that a case management company would also have a CRM and also a contract lifecycle management product.

Jared Correia:  Love me some Comic Sans.

Cain Elliott: I’m telling you before we… Everybody has absurd font choices. The most feedback I’ve ever gotten from doing one of these shows with you was me doubling down on [inaudible]. IBM Plex Sans has being the finest font out on the market.

Jared Correia: Yes. I remember that. Wing Dings unavailable or what?

Cain Elliott: Unavailable in Outlaw or in Filevine.

Jared Correia:  You’re a convincing guy though. I’m not surprised you made that pitch to your team. Now let’s make a pitch to lawyers. So there’s lots of options out there for contract lifecycle management tools in the space. If you’re a law firm or a legal department and you’re exploring this for the first time, or maybe you’re thinking about making a change, what should you be looking for in a solution?

Cain Elliott: Yeah. So I would look for the solution that first allows you in an optimal a way to cut down on overhead. And what I mean by that is the most expensive part of your documents is not actually the 0.3 you spend generating and running through a particular document. It’s the 5.8 you will spend every year maintaining a document if you even do that. So I think for teams that benefit the most in this space, it’s really about optimizing how you can maintain your documents. How you can maintain the integrity of the language that’s there. The references you’re citing. Everything you’re doing to keep that coordinated and keep your documents fresh means you’re keeping your practice fresh. And it means you are having clear oversight into what’s actually peering in those documents. But I think everybody’s used, I always call them, every firm has their library of greatest hits.

 You pull out of the greatest hits file and you’re like, “Man, that motion in limit that, what case was that? Did we do that back in ’99? Can you find that file and let’s get that…” Everybody pulls on those greatest hits. The point is that if you use something like a contract lifecycle management tool, you can start making those greatest hits part of your regular repertoire. And instead of something you’re randomly pulling on, you can make sure that more and more of your documents are representing what you think is the highest quality work you do at the firm.

Jared Correia: Man, that motion lemonade back in ’99, that was the jam.

Cain Elliott: It was hot, fireman. I’m telling you.

Jared Correia: So we’ve talked a little bit about use cases for legal departments, law firms. What’s the difference there? How would you use the CLM product as a legal department in a larger company versus how you could use it as an independent law firm? Can you speak to that a little?

Cain Elliott: Yeah. So I think in commercial and transactional areas where people are acting as corporate counsel, it’s mainly contractually focused, documents going back and forth. There’s a lot of focus there, ease of use, especially for things like redlining. I think everybody knows the terrible process of redlining agreements back and forth and emailing them and wondering what version you’re on. In corporate practice, the ability to quickly generate something, get it out, share it. And as we like to say over here, get to agreement and do it without chaos, that’s the key in that practice area. And I think that’s the focus is can you transact with others, but transact with others in a more secure way, in a way that’s more transparent. The greater you provide transparency, the quicker you get to agreement. Nobody benefits from somebody hiding something in the track changes and word or not being able to find whatever.

It’s not as common as people will often think in a paranoid way as part of law that people are hiding in track changes, but it does happen. So the more you increase transparency in that space, the better you can very often like I said, with private practice, the key is to be all the time, like I said, elevating your language, you’re templating, that you’re utilizing but at the end of the day in both areas, and this is one of the reasons that Filevine feels like this is centrally aligned with our original mission is it’s to raise the quality of work and the work product itself to standardize that, like you said, Jared.

 And I think one of the things people realize getting on a platform like ours is how many different versions of the same document may you have? Whether you’re in corporate counsel practice or you’re in private law, one thing we find everybody’s got five, six, 25, depending on how long they’ve been in practice, versions of the same document going around in your organization or firm. I’ll tell you this, I’ve even had solo practitioners who I start going through with them. And they’ve got six drafts of the same type of letter. It’s a natural thing. So to your point earlier, if you don’t have tech to do this, human brain is not meant for keeping track of that stuff. So you use the system.

Jared Correia: For sure. Yeah. So you talked a little bit about this notion of standardization. Automation features are available in contract lifecycle management software as well. So how do you balance that between ad hoc needs that specific clients would have? So you know how lawyers are. Everything is like a special little snowflake and sometimes people bristle when you start to talk about standards and automation.

Cain Elliott: Yeah. So I have a general rule of thumb I always say, and this applies to Filevine, Outlaw, whatever you’re using with us. I think that automation is a key feature for the future of legal practice, because you want to take away from items that are not really contributing to the work product. But I think there shouldn’t be a black box of automation running in legal. It’s still important to have a hand on things, to handle on what you and the team are doing.

So I think automations are most meaningful in legal work when they’re knowingly deployed. So I think you don’t have automations necessarily that are running on cycle and trying to contract. For you in the background, that would be practicing well without a license. We don’t want to enable that. What we do want to do though is make it easier so that something like if I want to share a contract, I put in the email and let the system share the contract, instead of me, then opening my Outlook and doing share. Pieces like that are knowingly acknowledged and done to take out parts of the work that aren’t meaningful, that’s where it really fits together.

Jared Correia: All right. So a lot of cool stuff happening in the CLM software world right now. So what’s the next evolution that you see in contract lifecycle management?

Cain Elliott: I think we’re going to see more of a marketplace of clauses as places open up like Arizona, where you have the first time people working in the space who don’t have to be attorneys to own firms. Where you have legal service providers like, Hello Divorce and the work they’re doing. I think there’s going to be more of a marketplace for clauses and legal language. And what will really distinguish a lot of practitioners is not just generating their text, but being connoisseurs of the best legal text. I think that’s going to be a distinguishing feature in the future that will be more elevated art than right now. Searching on Google to see if somebody has filed that motion before. Going through west law and seeing if you can find a nice citation. So I think about it a lot in terms of connoisseurship and thinking about it more like a refined art of being the right language picker that can then sculpt that for your client, rather than drafting fresh, raw text on your own.

Jared Correia: The marketplace of clauses. I feel like you should be trademarking that. That might be an essential plot element-

Cain Elliott: Already on it. I’m sure.

Jared Correia:  Good. I thought so. I got one last question for you if you got some time. And I want to draw it back to what’s happening right now. It’s really hard to find people to come and work for you these days, sadly. Starbucks is always closed, man. My kids are like, “I need cake pops.” And I’m like, “I’m sorry. The Starbucks just aren’t open.” This happening in legal too. So can something like a contract lifecycle management software assist with this staffing crisis that everybody’s gone through right now?

Cain Elliott: Yeah. I think there are a lot of teams that… I think that’s a really interesting point because what has actually happened is that maybe everybody thought that there would be some permanent shifts or changes after COVID and the pandemic and work from home. And what a shift work from home was in legal. I think that actually staffing crisis is a bigger crisis for legal because the idea that you could just staff up… Let’s think about you have a massive set of transactions coming up, you’re doing a real estate deal, or you’ve got a trial coming up. And the old idea of let’s just staff up and have more people working on this, that is isn’t working.

So you’re going to need to deploy tools to help optimize all of your staff members. And I think the real key there for legal is not just deploying it with the aim or objective to the ideas, can you make this work with less people? But the fact of the matter is you probably have less people available but can you take those people you already have and do an even better job apprenticing them into the field quicker and faster to allow them to be more productive? One of the biggest things that firms will spend time on is bringing a new associate in and getting them ready to practice law. Nobody can practice law right out of law school. All right. You’ll have to hear to of it so far.

Jared Correia: Me neither.

Cain Elliott: Yeah. So that’s a lot of time that’s spent getting people apprenticed in. If you can use tools that help allow them to practice sooner, that allow your staff to get further without intervention of an attorney, those kinds of things are really critical right now.

Jared Correia: That’s a great point. Yeah. And I think of most law firms thinking of training being a very in person type of thing. But if you get the right software in place, that’s a great way to learn about how law practice is transacted.

Cain Elliott: Actually, I’m the advocate of… I’ve told our team this many times, the most important field type that exists in Filevine is the instructions field type. The best way you can help people because you want people to move into the software, but the software to help move them along. And like I said, elevate their performance every time.

Jared Correia: I love that. I feel like you’ve elevated your performance here, even though this is podcast number five. Thank you again for coming on.

Cain Elliott:  I like when you talk to me that way.

Jared Correia: It’s true. Yeah. You’re not sick of me yet.

Cain Elliott:  No. Not yet.

Jared Correia: Okay. All right. Everybody, we talked a little bit more about contract management software and nobody pulled their groin while tying their shoes, which actually happened to hockey player, Ron Tugnutt. Yes. That’s his real name. So I feel like we did pretty well here today. To recap, today you heard from Dr. Cain Elliott from Filevine. For more information about Filevine’s contract lifecycle management software, Outlaw, visit getoutlaw.com. That’s G-E-T-O-U-T-L-A-W, getoutlaw.com. Thanks to my guest Cain Elliott. Thanks to all of you for listening. Cain, thanks for coming in once again.

Cain Elliott: Thank you, Jared. Appreciate it.

Jared Correia: All right. Join us for our next episode everybody. We’ll discuss how it is that only half a dolphin’s brain sleeps at one time. Oh, I guess we could do another legal tech topic too. All right. We’ll do that. But you’re going to off some dolphins and they’re vicious. See you next time.

Written by Ardy Taylor

More about Outlaw

Voted G2’s #1 Momentum Leader for contract management, Outlaw provides pioneering end-to-end contracting solutions for the fastest growing companies such as Intrado, BeyondPricing, and Democracy International. From dynamic template-based generation through in-app negotiation, lifecycle management and reporting, Outlaw automates and customizes contract workflows helping companies reach agreement faster. Outlaw has been recognized as a legal technology leader in 2020 by the National Law Journal.

In 2021, Outlaw joined Filevine’s legal tech platform to radically improve the future of legal work. Together, Filevine and Outlaw become the first and only end-to-end solution to dynamically link documents, contracts, and databases with their surrounding business processes, resulting in easier workflow customizations, instant automations, and better collaboration.

More information can be found at getoutlaw.com and filevine.com.

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