Global law firm, Morgan Lewis, has launched AdviserDash, which helps to automate the regulatory reporting needs of its funds clients. It’s not rocket science. But, it’s a practical and win-win case of law firm innovation that exemplifies how lawyers actually want to embrace legal tech.
First, what is AdviserDash? Well, if you’re not a funds lawyer it may not sound that exciting, but if you are fascinated by practical applications of legal tech then it might be your cup of tea. What it does is take a manual and complex process – which is likely not going to generate a lot of billable work – and turns it into an easy to use system where data is digitised and the entire process is sped up. It’s also one of those things – in this case filling in a US 15 (c) form – that is essential, but no client, or law firm, is thrilled about having to do it. But, it needs to be done. So anything that helps here is welcome.
Plus, now that there is a digital framework in place, that data can be leveraged again for future use, or just for reference and dashboarding.
It also helps to strengthen the bonds between the solution provider (i.e. the law firm) and the client. Meanwhile, Morgan Lewis can then focus on helping the clients with more complex work.
It’s the kind of approach we increasingly see now: take a manually focused legal problem, often with a lot of fiddly data entry, but related to an important document or regulatory need, and then automating it and creating a digital space to run this in.
These are not overly-ambitious projects. But they are only additive. No lawyers (well, hopefully) will say: ‘Hey, that’s cannibalising my income!’ The clients will simply see (one also hopes) the benefits. And everyone is happy. Meanwhile, the legal world is a little bit more efficient. What’s not to like?
Now, one could hope for something cataclysmic, that upends the very way the firm makes money, or totally changes the client relationship. But….guess what….? Most law firms don’t fancy that. And why should they? So, the reality is this type of automated interface that ‘just helps’ is where a lot of internal law firm innovation is focused now, at Morgan Lewis and at many other firms.
Now, back to Morgan Lewis and what AdviserDash does.
This is how they explain things. It is a ‘cloud-based application to report on investment adviser information. It replaces the manual, cumbersome 15(c) annual advisory agreement renewal process with an automated system for distributing, monitoring, and publishing of the many fund documents required for reporting. AdviserDash is the most recent tool of the firm’s ML Fund Studio portfolio’.
And it ‘provides a modern web interface to make it clearer for the board to quickly identify year-over-year changes that could impact an adviser’s renewal, make it easier for the advisers to gather information from multiple sources and input information, and make it straightforward for the funds to recall and analyse the data. The application is built on a low-code platform in order to be more agile [and] it is quick to deploy and quick to change once there is user feedback’.
Features and functionality of AdviserDash, include:
- Automates and customises the creation and distribution of 15(c) reporting questionnaires to help ensure accuracy of all necessary information.
- Provides a 360-degree view that monitors and tracks all 15(c) questionnaires by adviser for each board meeting bundle and ensures timely submission of draft and final versions.
- Delivers a modern, web-based interface, including dynamic tables.
- Offers built-in ultimate security, compliance, and continuity functions.
- Modifies to digitally transform other manual internal operations, reporting, and due diligence needs.
The ML Fund Studio that made this is an internal product development group, such as we increasingly see at other firms. It also has a product called Fund Kit that helps with prospectuses and board resolutions.
Firm Chair, Jami McKeon, said of the product: ‘We are driven to use innovation and automation to enhance client service. Our commitment to quality drives our approach to rethink processes or apply a technology solution that improves efficiency and the client experience.’
While Timothy Levin, leader of the firm’s investment management practice, added: ‘Although there are services on the market to support the 15(c) process such as providing benchmarking, none of those services address the distribution and collection of the requisite responses from investment advisers. To update a manual process with a flexible automated solution provides consistency of product and process, at the same time mitigating risk and being more cost-effective. So it’s really a win-win for everyone.’
Let’s reiterate that last point: it’s a win-win for everyone.
When those are the conditions, law firms such as Morgan Lewis and many others are more than happy to embrace change and innovation.