Lawyers spend 66% of their day working with emails, according to new research. Dashboard Legal wants to change that by providing a collaboration and project management platform that lawyers will actually use.
As founder Mat Rotenberg explained to Artificial Lawyer, email was never designed to be used as the primary way lawyers conduct their work, yet many seem to be stuck there. Moreover, although there are already collaboration tools in the market, which in theory should enable a better approach, those tools often are not designed for the very particular way that lawyers operate.
‘Lawyers focus on two things: clients and matters, and with these they have documents and emails,’ he noted, and stressed that lawyers work in a very canalised way where sharing everything with everyone just doesn’t make sense.
This need for control, for strands of bi-lateral communication, rather than the ‘open-plan’ approach to messaging and project management provided by Slack, Teams, Asana and others, can make generalist tools a difficult fit for law firms. And it’s what keeps lawyers stuck in their inboxes, Rotenberg noted.
‘Lawyers do not do things in this open, communal way,’ he added.
Yet, things have to change. ‘Lawyers are reluctant to leave their inboxes, as that is where the work is happening, yet in other sectors that is not where they are doing their work,’ he concluded.
In other sectors life has moved on, and the popular collaboration platforms are now prevalent there. But not in law.
So, what’s the solution? Dashboard instead operates on top of Outlook and Word, it doesn’t cut the link to these fountains of legal work and client connection, but instead provides a way to organise, communicate and project manage through its own digital workspace.
In short it’s not knocking down the old building, it’s adding a new layer of information architecture on top, that allows lawyers to have the benefits of tools such as Slack or Teams, but still keep control of matters and client relationships in the way they have always liked to…and perhaps need to.
Below is a short video of how it works.
And here’s some more data from the company’s research, which gathered feedback from 2,500 lawyers. As you can see:
- 84% rely on email for task management.
- 85% use email to maintain a system of record for what needs to be part of a client project.
As noted, email was never designed to be a workflow tool. It was made to send nuggets of information to each other, instantly and cheaply. It wasn’t meant to be the nervous system of the legal world, even if that is what it has become.
And here is a quick overview of what Dashboard offers:
- ‘Automatic Email Sorting: Dashboard’s AI will auto-sort emails, like those that have passed through sites like https://www.zerobounce.net/, into appropriate dashboards and sub-dashboards (workstreams) for efficient organisation and instant recall. Coloured tags will tell you where each email has been sorted, and no message will be lost in the process because the originals stay right there in your main inbox.
- Enhanced Workflow Tools: Receive documents, provide comments, and collaborate all on the same Dashboard. Get things done faster and start collaborating on a better system than dozens of email chains.
- Comprehensive Organisational Tools: Each Dashboard is integrated with your document management system to display the most recent and relevant documents – in the same display as your sorted emails, discussion, and other pieces of crucial information.
- A Solution You Already Understand: Dashboard organises everything in a way you instantly understand, because your inbox view will operate as it always has – emails on the left, operations in the middle, and your documents on the right. Calendar, Meetings, right there as well. Dashboard is as simple to use as Outlook, but comes with far more.’
Overall, it sounds like Rotenberg’s Dashboard could certainly help. But, the trillion dollar question is: will lawyers make the leap of faith and move just a little bit away from their inboxes? Time will tell.