For whatever reason, the legal industry is notoriously resistant to change. Whether it's due to the barriers of the profession or because lawyers are simply traditionalists, they often won't easily agree to things like adopting new technology, even if it would make their lives easier. As a legal tech company, Upstock often sees this firsthand. That's why we're offering these tips that you can use to get your legal team to see your point of view.
Companies should always look into the adoption of systems, methods or technologies that could make their processes efficient and effective. For example, if you are an HR professional in a large company or corporation, you would want something that could ease the process of managing and reviewing employment contracts and streamline other labor compliance matters. Because the bigger the company is, the messier these things get.
The goal of legal technology, precisely, is to address these issues to make the life of everyone who works in these areas easier. But as mentioned before, there might be some pushback from those who may believe that implementing new systems or technologies are not in their best interest. Some might also find it unnecessary or too complicated to learn a new way of doing things.
As a company operating around the legal tech space, Upstock is aware that addressing these concerns by effectively communicating and advocating for technological adoption is important.
Here’s how we do it.
Pitching to in-house lawyers
If you have an in-house legal department, a lot of their time is usually devoted to administrative matters that are better spent on resolving more complex and technical legal issues. Thus, corporate lawyers are often supportive of anything that allows them to save time as it makes their jobs less challenging.
At Upstock, we emphasize to in-house legal professionals the following benefits and advantages of our worker-focused equity management system:
- Standardized high-quality equity plans and employment contracts. Lawyers in new companies and startups are often expected to draft employment agreements and equity award agreements from scratch. With Upstock, we got that covered for them, saving them potentially hundreds of hours in contract drafting work and revisions. Moreover, Upstock’s legal documents and templates have been vetted and examined by international experts. In-house lawyers can now rest easy knowing that a full-blown contract review of Upstock documents is not necessary.
- Built-in customization. Upstock’s legal documents also have a section where you can add in your own custom clauses. So if you want to add in a special clause around a worker’s employment or additional specifications around a worker’s equity or bank account to be used in a particular country, it's easy to add to their contract.
- International applicability. Sure, pre-drafted and standardized agreements are nice but lawyers still need to know whether the template is enforceable or valid in the relevant country or jurisdiction they are operating in. If the company has global operations (or if it works with international or remote teams), this issue becomes more significant. This means that the in-house counsel is still expected to conduct research on the laws and regulations of each country that are relevant to their employment contracts and agreements. Upstock solves this by doing the research for in-house lawyers in advance and ensuring that its legal documents are valid in 70+ countries around the world.
- Built-in contract management. No more stressing about organizing signed employment contracts and agreements or trying to find or locate lost ones. Upstock tracks them in one central location so founders and lawyers don’t have to do contract management and corporate housekeeping manually.
- Updates to legal documents and templates. In-house counsels, most of the time, also have to keep track of legal and regulatory changes that could affect their present and future contracts. At Upstock, we take care of updating our legal documents to ensure that it remains compliant with such laws and regulations. Hence, it’s one less thing for them to worry about.
So if you are looking to pitch the use of a great equity management system like Upstock, you can easily gain the support of your in-house counsel by emphasizing the number of ways it can make their life easier as we have shown above.
Talking to external counsel
In-house lawyers are generally more receptive to legal tech as it almost always tends to benefit them by allowing them to save more time. In contrast, external lawyers and law firms who charge based on time stand to lose a significant amount of billable hours and income since the faster the work can be done, the lesser the hours that can be billed. As such, if you work with an external counsel, there may be some pushback against legal tech that could potentially take away work referrals from them.
This is a fundamental problem in the billing practice some lawyers and law firms have more recently been creatively solving (and which is obviously beyond the scope of this article). However, more and more great firms are embracing change and warming up to the idea of utilizing legal tech because it means doing what is in the best interest of their clients. A company that thrives will produce more billable work across the spectrum. At Upstock, we emphasize the following opportunities and benefits for external counsels:
- Partnership opportunities. There are legal tech apps out there that allow lawyers to play a role in the overall operation of the offered product or service. At Upstock, we have been starting to collaborate with external and independent lawyers who are becoming partners in our product and service offerings. For example, we have started to allow external counsels to offer support services and earn a percentage of the subscription fee in case there are requests for amendments or customization of Upstock’s standardized equity plans from their referred clients or customers. This is particularly good for companies that still want their lawyers to handle the administration of their equity plans. With Upstock lawyers can still add all the relevant employee information, add any desired clauses and Upstock will alert employees when their legal documents are ready to be signed.
- Advantageous time savings for retainer arrangements. On the other hand, there are also external lawyers or law firms that only have a retainer agreement with the company which means they are periodically paid a fixed fee regardless of the amount of time spent on legal work (usually subject to a time cap and limitation of the scope of the legal service). Thus, for external lawyers under a retainer arrangement, saving time by taking advantage of legal tech is actually beneficial to them as it allows them to maximize the equivalent per hour income from the fixed fee and, more generally, it enables them to re-allocate the time they managed to save to do more billable work. This is what Upstock could do for them in the area of employee contract management and equity compensation.
- Focus on overall benefits. It is also important to emphasize that if the company thrives, the external counsel also thrives. Any development or technology that allows the company to save on expenses and increase its revenue would allow it to expand and scale faster. As the company expands and grows, opportunities for referrals and the ned for more significant legal work will also follow. This is something that a progressive lawyer would easily understand and who is someone you would want to continue working with as your business grows.
It is normal for your external lawyers to voice out their concerns and skepticism of any legal tech app that you would be pushing for. But if you are able to communicate the factors we have highlighted above, it should become easier for them to understand that it could benefit both of you.
It’s understandable that not everyone will be warm to the idea of changing their habits from how they were done before. This is especially true in the legal sector which is sometimes known for its fixed habits. But recently, this market and industry has truly started to show itself being more and more open to technological innovation.
At Upstock, we are witnessing this field of equity management as an area in legal tech that continues to embrace technological developments, owing to the massive advantages and benefits they bring to the table for both companies and legal professionals alike.
If you need more inputs on how you could talk to your lawyer regarding legal tech like Upstock—or if you are a lawyer who wants to know more about how Upstock could make your work easier, or if you simply want to discuss possible opportunities for partnership or collaboration—we’d be happy to talk!