When it comes to what clients spend on legal services, there are savvy purchasers who look to manage their legal spin based on value and data-driven analytics. And there are those who simply just pay the invoice. Alex Kelly, co-founder, and COO of Brightflag talks with us about how they use AI and data analytics to help savvy corporate counsel and in-house legal teams make better decisions on how they purchase legal services. Brightflag recently announced a $28 million funding round from OnePeak, and Alex, along with co-founder Ian Nolan is looking to expand the team at Brightflag and help their customers with monitoring and controlling their legal spend and identify ways to focus on the value they get from their outside legal counsel, rather than just the hours of work.

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Information Inspirations

Coca-Cola is apparently tired of its outside law firms not improving their diversity numbers. Since the firms won’t do it on their own, Coke is laying down the law to force them to diversify their attorney ranks or lose out on Coke’s business altogether.

While many law firms are announcing record profits, that isn’t stopping some from using the pandemic as a reason to restructure their workforce and begin reducing salaries and cutting jobs. The restructuring wave looks like it will continue through 2021.

While we see some value in the new social media platform, Clubhouse, Brian Inkster from The Time Blawg gives 12 reasons why it really isn’t for lawyers.

Goodwin Proctor LLP is just the latest law firm to find itself exposed to a data hack. This time it was through a vendor, and we may not have heard the last of which other firms might be affected.

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Please take the time to rate and review us on Apple Podcast. Contact us anytime by tweeting us at @gebauerm or @glambert. Or, you can call The Geek in Review hotline at 713-487-7270 and leave us a message. You can email us at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com. As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.


Marlene Gebauer: Welcome to the Geek in Review. The podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer.

Greg Lambert: And I’m Greg Lambert. Well, today’s guest is Alex Kelly. He is the co-founder and COO at Brightflag, which is a legal spend management software company. And we talk with him about Brightflag’s latest round of funding and their plans for the future about how clients are going to view their legal spend with their outside law firms. It was a pretty interesting conversation that we had with him. So I invite everyone to stick around and hear more about that.

Marlene Gebauer: Yeah, as we all know, legal spend management is super important for law firms.

Greg Lambert: It sure is.

Marlene Gebauer: But, before we get to Alex’s interview, let’s get to this week’s information inspirations.

Greg Lambert: So Marlene, my first information is about Coca Cola in last week, their general counsel Bradley M. Gayton, sent a letter to all of his outside law firms telling them that they must do better when it comes to diversity, or potentially lose out on any business from Coke in the future,

Marlene Gebauer: I saw that. That was pretty intense.

Greg Lambert: It was, to me what it sounded like was Coke was tired of law firms dragging their damn feet.

Marlene Gebauer: They lit a fire under them, that’s it, you know.

Greg Lambert: And in a way, I mean, I know this is a little bit of an apples and oranges comparison here, but the way that they are addressing this saying that, okay, we’re going to give you a certain amount of time to hit these benchmarks. And if you can’t hit the benchmarks, we’re going to start taking money away from you. It reminds me of what Casey Flaherty did at KIA with the technology. So you know, and again at a little apples and oranges, but we say in the legal industry and legal ops all the time that sometimes it takes the client to make these kinds of demands to get the law firms off center and start acting. So it’s going to be really, really interesting to see how Coke’s outside firms deal with this and just

Marlene Gebauer: Scramble, you mean?

Greg Lambert: Yeah, scramble a little bit. So I just want to hit the high points on it. So over the next 18 months, the outside law firms have to have at least 30% of the time billed for the matters to be done by minority lawyers. And that half of that time has to be by black lawyers. So it’s going to be interesting, they can work with additional law firms. So the law firm can outsource some of the work to another law firm to hit those diversity numbers. Right now, Coke doesn’t have any preferred outside legal counsel, within 18 months, they will have 10 preferred outside legal counsel. And it has to be those that meet these requirements. And if you don’t meet these requirements, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a current firm of theirs or not, you’re gone. So like I said, I think they just got tired of law firms kind of cheating the metrics on this.

Marlene Gebauer: It’s tough love, man. It’s tough love. Yeah. Well, we know that many firms did quite well financially last year despite the pandemic. In addition to discovering they could work differently and be profitable. They also reduce salaries in the workforce. And apparently, this is just the beginning. As firms continue to understand the impacts of CORONA, more reorganization is expected. Change is based on an increasingly competitive environment, loss of talent, and internal strife. Some recent examples include Norton Rose Fulbright’s decision this month to cut 132 jobs across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, and what it called a reorganization into a more efficient structure, and Winston Strawn LLP’s September decision to cut an undisclosed number of staff, which the firm said was an innovative restructuring that took aim at operational efficiencies. So while it’s assumed that profitability is a major driving factor of the restructuring wave, you also hope that it’s being done with an understanding of what is needed by clients not just as a short-term cost reduction strategy. Unfortunately, Greg, I think we’re gonna see a lot more upheaval before this is all over.

Greg Lambert: So Marlene, you and I have played around with Clubhouse a lot this week. So just to get your opinion, what do you think of it so far?

Marlene Gebauer: I’m liking it so far. I mean, I think it’s a really interesting tool to sort of bringing people together for a sort of quick on the fly type of conversation. And you know, it seems that there’s a real comfort level with people joining the chat rooms, it’s nice and you can basically sit there and listen or you can get up and ask a question or get up on stage. Or you can leave very quietly if you want to.

Greg Lambert: Yeah, I have left quietly on a few. I’ve enjoyed it, it obviously gets, you know, there are some quirks to it since it’s a brand new system, but I will tell you that Brian Inkster with the Time Blawg in a he’s not quite as keen on it as you and I are. And in fact, he wrote an article today that gives 12 reasons why is not for lawyers. And I think he makes a couple of good points. And I think the obvious issues are one that, you know, it’s an iOS mobile platform only. So it can only work on your iPhone or your iPad. And so if you are on Android, tough luck for right now. And then I think he points out some very legitimate privacy issues, especially how it gets into the contacts on your phone list. And he’s saying it is possible, but most likely a GDPR issue there. So they may have to clean that up.

Marlene Gebauer: Well, you know, we just sign away our privacy for all the time on these things. So you know, that’s, that’s what’s happening here.

Greg Lambert: Yeah, I understand. But you know, his list from there, I think he stretches it a little bit on what’s wrong with the platform that really just doesn’t relate to either personal preference, or is a somewhat skewed view of what the platform is actually doing. For example, He says that you can basically set up a similar result by using Zoom or Teams by turning off the video. And I’m like, No, that’s no, no, that’s not what it does. And and he admits that he has not been on the platform. So I mean, he’s,

Marlene Gebauer: Oh, undefined of these things where we’re gonna criticize it. And we haven’t actually tried it.

Greg Lambert: Yeah, we’ll see. I mean, some of the critiques are very valid, but, it is just a lack of actually taking the time to get in there and test it out. Now, just like with all the other social media platforms, I think the best quote I saw last week was there, there’s a fight between serendipity and marketing going on. And that just means there are the usual suspects that to just jump into any new platform to teach everyone how to make, you know, an eight-figure salary by using this platform. And not to say that it isn’t doable, but the chances are, you will get hit by lightning about 15 times before, you’re one of those that make an eight-figure salary. So good luck with that for those that are using it for that reason. But if you’re, you know, looking at Clubhouse as a way to interact with, especially with people that you may not normally interact with, and that’s what’s happened with me. I think it’s, it’s at least worth checking out.

Marlene Gebauer: Yeah, I agree. And I’m actually, I’m actually hosting a room tonight for the first time it’s on KM and how you can maintain communication, and how you can get the message across about and tools and processes and, and adoption, you know, when we’re all separated. So I’m hoping we have some, some good conversation and some really, you know, forward-thinking ideas there.

Greg Lambert: I’ll be there to support you.

Marlene Gebauer: You will be there. Thank you. So speaking of privacy and confidentiality, there’s another legal hack in the news of legal hacks and if you need a refresher, let’s just take a short stroll down memory lane for the last few months. The Department of Justice, Seyfarth Shaw, Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks PC, and Baker & Wotring LLP, to name a few. These all had security breaches. This time it’s Goodwin Proctor, and they may have had client information expose after a third-party vendor the firm uses for large file transfers had its security compromised last month. And this is according to a Tuesday in-house memo from the managing partner at Goodwin Proctor. Now interestingly, the vendor was not named but Goodwin speculated that other of the vendor’s clients were likely impacted. So again, we may not have heard the last of this.

Greg Lambert: Alright, well, that wraps up this week’s information inspirations.


Greg Lambert: When it comes to what clients spend on legal services, there are savvy purchasers who look to manage their legal spin based on value and data-driven analytics. And there are those who simply just pay the invoice. Our guest today operates a company whose mission is to create more of those savvy purchasers by presenting them with more More information to make better decisions on their legal spend.

Marlene Gebauer: We’d like to welcome Alex Kelly to the show. Alex is the co-founder and CEO at Brightflag, a legal spend management software company. Alex, welcome to the Geek in Review.

Alex Kelly: Thanks, Marlene. Delighted to be here.

Greg Lambert: So Alex, we wanted to bring you on the show to talk about data and analytics, and what you and Brightflag are doing to leverage that data and analytics when it comes to legal spend. But before we get too far into the weeds, and trust me, we will, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and give us an overview of how you and Ian Nolan started Brightflag?

Alex Kelly: Sure. Thanks, Greg. And so firstly, as you may have guessed, by my accent, I’m Irish and I studied law in University. I trained and practiced as a corporate lawyer with a large law firm, and did that for a number of years specializing in financial institutions, corporate law, and really enjoyed that. I got a huge amount out of it learned a huge amount. But probably my perspective in the legal industry started to shift. And I started to appreciate this disconnect that existed between the services that were being provided by large law firms like the one I was working in, and the perceived value of those services by corporate clients, large multinationals spending millions. 10s of millions of dollars a year on outside counsel. And it felt to me like there is this fundamental disconnect that existed, and a lack of understanding by these large organizations as to whether they were getting value for money as to whether work was being resourced, efficiently, or in the correct way. And across the industry as a whole. It wasn’t in any way, shape, or form, or criticism of the law firm I worked in, there was just a lack of usage of kind of technology, and much thought being given to how the work was being resourced. It seemed to me that there was an opportunity to improve that through the use of technology and, an opportunity to change how the legal industry was working away from one where people are paying for time, to a scenario where large organizations are truly paying for value. And in parallel with that, Ian Nolan, our CEO, my co-founder, he had been working in a legal technology company building software for law firms and identified he identified the fact that the real catalyst for change back then back in 2013-2014, when we got started was coming from corporate legal departments and corporate legal departments were the ones that were starting to drive change in the legal industry. So we came together to build a platform for corporate legal teams to help them more effectively manage their legal matters and manage external legal spend, which was the initial focus. And as I said, that was really with the vision to enabling that transition from a scenario, which still exists today, largely where organizations are paying for time when they’re buying legal services, to one where they’re truly paying for value. And we count it with the emergence of the legal operations movements, which started in the US, and it’s just gone from strength to strength. And I think that has really been the catalyst for a lot of the positive things that have changed in the industry over the last six years and have enabled bright flag to grow and support modern forward-thinking corporate legal teams.

Marlene Gebauer: Well, that’s really interesting, because you know, you’re talking about corporate counsel, and that sort of informs my next question. So on Businesswire, I saw a post that said, according to a recent Gartner survey, the share of corporate legal operations leaders responsible for coordinating law firm billing and tracking outside counsel spend metrics increased in the past two years alone by 53 and 32 percentage points respectively, becoming a key priority for enterprises. So they’re spending more of their time and resources doing this. Why do you think that is?

Alex Kelly: Yeah, Marlene, that’s, that’s really interesting. I saw that survey. And it certainly reflects the reality we experience in the market and with our customers. So our customers, our corporate legal teams, our main point of contact, tends to be the head of corporate legal operations. And they tend to have responsibility for managing the outside counsel, relationships, capture of metrics, and decisions as to who sits on the panel, and ensuring that those outside counsels are delivering services in line with the organization’s expectation. The reason for that shift in my view, where they’re increasingly taking responsibility for that really important role is because they’re good at it. Because legal operations professionals when compared to traditionally in-house lawyers take a different approach. They’re more data-driven. They understand things like change management. They have an awareness of the industry best practices that have been, I think, codify to a greater extent by organizations like CLOC and the ACC Legal Operations movement. And while they understand the importance of the relationships with outside counsel, they know how to go about it changing them for the better by increasing transparency and objectivity in using data to make better resourcing decisions and how to go about all of the change that’s required to do that effectively through the use of technology to the implementation of better processes and, and how to go about bringing the in-house lawyers themselves on that journey with them. So they’ve certainly played a critical role in the change I’ve seen in the industry and have been great partners to us as the kind of key users of the bright cloud platform. And in managing that outside counsel relationship.

Marlene Gebauer: we also understand that you recently announced a $28 million funding round and I noticed your bot on your website also told me that so congratulations. What is that round of funding going to enable you to do with Brightflag going forward?

Greg Lambert: Yeah. What are you gonna do with all that money?

Alex Kelly: Great, great. Great, question.

Marlene Gebauer: Yeah we texted, we’ve texted this morning. It’s like, what are they gonna do with all that money?

Alex Kelly: Well, we were I think, for the first thing to say is, we were very proud to close that investment round, we have a fantastic partner coming on board, our new investor OnePeak, alongside our existing investors. They have a lot of great domain experience. And what it what it firstly has done is it is a testament to the incredible work of our team in building an incredible platform for corporate legal teams in monitoring, controlling their matters and their spend and, and that’s borne out by the customers that that are incredibly happy and got a huge amount of value from using the software. It’s going to enable us to continue to build out that great team, we intend to hire about 60 people over the next year. And that means we’re going to continue to develop the leading platform for intelligently managing legal matters and corporate legal spend, and enabling legal operations leaders, general counsel, in house lawyers make better decisions about how they resource, their legal work at every stage of a matter lifecycle, essentially automate more tasks for them, help them drive more effective cost control and ultimately make better resourcing decisions. So we’ve, we’ve got very ambitious plans as to how we’re going to continue to develop out the matter management capabilities within the platforms, it’s for customers.

Greg Lambert: Before we go on to the next round of questions. I see you have operations in Ireland, I think you have operations in the US and in Europe, where your customers based are they typically US/Europe centric?

Alex Kelly: Yeah. Great question, Greg. So our customers are right across North America, the US, and the UK, and indeed, APAC. So about half of our customer base would be US multinationals, they tend to have global operations as well and tend to be organizations with a point of scale where they’re, they’re operating in multiple jurisdictions across the world. But we also have a leading presence in EMEA. And some very large customers in APAC as well.

Greg Lambert: Do you find that customers in different locations have different needs or the needs kind of universal?

Alex Kelly: I think the needs are universal. I think the organizations that we partner with the general counsel that have legal operations tend to be focused on how are they going to continue to modernize the legal function and become a better business partner to the organization as a whole. So they’re focused on automating routine tasks for their teams. They’re focused on making better decisions about how they resource work and ensure that it’s delivered quickly and cost-effectively. And so those kinds of underlying objectives and themes are the same. And the nature of legal services doesn’t vary dramatically from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. And so we tend to bring our customers together quite a bit to kind of share their insights and best practices. And there wouldn’t be major divergences between what you’d hear from an in-house lawyer, general counsel in Sydney when compared to London or New York.

Greg Lambert: Well, as I was preparing for this interview, I was reading some of the blog posts on your site, and one of them caught my eye. And it was entitled, “Are you managing legal spend or merely paying bills?” And I think that anyone in charge of a department whether it’s a legal department or not can really relate to that question and probably embarrassed to answer it truthfully. What are some of the traits that we need to have in order to manage our spend? And how does data play a role in the management of our legal spend?

Alex Kelly: Yeah, that’s a great question, Greg, I think it starts with having a strategy. And that doesn’t need to be a particularly complicated one. I find for our corporate legal department clients, and we tend to collaborate with them pretty closely on this. So you need to understand where you are today. And you need to have visibility as to where are we spending money right now? How are we resourcing our matters whether internally whether externally with a law firm, whether with an alternative service provider, so as a starting point, you need data to understand the current picture as to how things are working day one, and what we tend to see what Clients as they go on to maturity journey, where they focus on some sort of tactical cost control and automation initiatives, which can have a really immediate benefit to the organization, such as implementing a process to ensure budgets are being set on matters. And there’s an actual conversation happening about whether there’s an opportunity to put a fixed pricing model in place, what the appropriate scope is for the relevant matter. As well as putting in place best practice, billing guidelines with the external law firms and service providers which reflect what we’re seeing across the industry is those things that law firms outside counsel should no longer be charging for. Putting in place those guidelines proactively with your law firms and having that communication with them. So they understand how you expect them to resource legal work. And once you’ve kind of had those conversations, and you’ve put those programs in place, having a platform like Brightflag, which enables automation of the configuration and setting up those budgets on the matters, the automated application of those billing guidelines, so that at a tactical level starts to drive a degree of control. While then in parallel with that, at a more strategic level, you now have this richer data set to enable you to make more strategic decisions more fundamental one such as, should we be consolidating more work with Law Firm A, as opposed to a Law Firm B, because they’re delivering it in a more timely way in a more cost effective way and alignment with our our budgets and guidelines? Could we be disaggregating, this type of litigation and giving a proportion of it to an alternative service provider at a fixed cost basis. Our clients through the use of our technology then have that sort of data at their disposal to make those types of decisions. So I think you can drive change pretty quickly with the right attitude, which is intending to build stronger relationships both internally with your finance colleagues with the business, as well as with your outside counsel, but but relationships that are underpinned by data and objective measures as to how things are being done.

Marlene Gebauer: Brightflag claims it processes billions of dollars of legal spent annually on behalf of its customers, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in saving and tens of thousands of hours and avoided administrative work. How do you calculate that ROI?

Alex Kelly: Sure, yeah. And thanks, Marlene. So it’s relatively easy to quantify the the value the platform is delivering for our clients. And it comes from a number of different components. Firstly, in the context of driving cost control. As I mentioned, the platform is enabling the automated configuration and application of matter level budgets, and that drives the degree of savings. In addition to that, our unique technology uses machine learning to read, understand and classify the entirety of an individual legal invoice that is submitted by a law firm. And the system will automatically classify where the time has been spent without any manual coding having to have been done by the lawyers within the law firm. And once the invoice has been classified in that way by our system, for instance, classifying how much time has been spent on a corporate transaction on the due diligence exercise or on a term sheet, what level was that work resourced at. Once it is done that it then automates the application of a very granular set of billing guidelines, which automatically highlights and captures savings relating to any inefficiency and how the service was delivered. So that delivers a an immediate level of savings. And they’re the kind of at the tactical level, how the platform is delivering fairly immediate savings and value. While also then at the more strategic level, we’re creating this kind of consistent, accurate data set now that you’re kind of accurately classifying how work is resourced on each individual invoice on each individual matter. At a strategic level, you now have a very clear picture of how your work is being resourced across the enterprise as a whole. And that enables much more fundamental cost control initiatives and decision making such as putting in place a fixed pricing model in a recurring area of spend, or, as I mentioned, consolidating work from one law firm to another based on the data that you’re seeing. And so significant cost savings come from those types of initiatives around fixed pricing or consolidation at work as well. And in addition to that, there is a huge level of kind of administrative work that can be put on in house lawyers and legal operations professionals on the platform to the usage of the AI is just driving a huge degree of time savings and productivity and automating workflows and reporting for the team as well.

Marlene Gebauer: If I’m understanding this correctly, the law firms on one side they don’t have to change their billing processes or their taxonomies at all. And when these invoices are submitted to the system, even though these taxonomies may be different in house counsel is sort of able to do an apples to apples comparison.

Alex Kelly: Exactly, exactly. So, for our clients that are law firms can continue our service providers can continue to submit invoices into our platform and the format they’re currently generating them, provided they’re giving a narrative description as to how the work is being done. They don’t need to manually apply codes to line items, which is required in other systems. And so that removes a huge kind of, firstly barrier to adoption in implementing technology like this. But secondly, as you correctly pointed out, it drives that kind of consistent data set for the legal team. Where you now have every invoice on every matter being coded in exactly the same way to give you this the data set that wasn’t at the disposal of the corporate legal team before in truly understanding how litigation matters or being resourced or M&A matters are being resourced or employment matters or being resourced.

Greg Lambert: That plays into my question, which, you know, I think I’m not stretching the truth here at all to say that law firms and legal departments aren’t exactly known for having clean data that we produce. Many of us are even going out and hiring our own data scientists to try and help us clean up the data that we do have. What do you see in this industry when it comes to the data that we collect? And how do we need to change?

Alex Kelly: Yeah, I think right now, Greg, there is a lack of visibility and reliable data for many organizations, and for many law firms. Which is critical to understand their strategy and how they’re going to improve legal service delivery in the context of a law firm, and ensure they maintain profitability and are delivering work in a way that aligns with their customers expectations. Because you can’t take a look back over a billion dollars of your litigation practices spanned over the last 10 years and truly understand the patterns and the norms as to how it was delivered. And that’s exactly why law firms are hiring data science teams to try and give that sort of insight on the law firm side and, where we’re obviously focused on solving that problem for for corporate legal teams. To give them the visibility to inform their decision making their resourcing strategy. And we do see more and more clients who are taking a more holistic view about how they how they think about resourcing their legal work, they’re looking to automate sections of it to the usage of technology. They’re looking to outsource more kind of lower risk, repetitive work to alternative service providers. And they’re looking to kind of narrow the focus and how they use their kind of strategic law firm partners for that critical advice, but but not necessarily looking at them as the One Stop Shop, where they’re going to get the whole matter or the whole thing. And it’s easier for them to make those decisions when they can understand what level does the due diligence exercise need to be done at or a discovery exercise? How much experience are we expecting that the team have to have to deliver it and watch at that cost? So I think there is that that that fundamental issue in the industry. But I equally think there is no and an understanding of the need increasingly, for better data to make better decisions, rather than relying on a kind of legacy relationship model as to how these decisions get made and how you decided to resource the legal matter.

Marlene Gebauer: Well, I’ve been in our discussions, it seems that you’ve thought of everything in terms of making this highly adoptable. But I’m going to ask the question anyway. So you’re bringing an AI solution into what’s essentially the core of legal business. What human challenges do you face? And how do you expect to overcome them? And, you know, I’m thinking, you know, one of the things I thought of was sort of the naysayers, you know, just sort of in my experience, you know, AI is a scary thing, kind of fraught with uncertainty. And, you know, I’m wondering how you overcome that that feeling?

Alex Kelly: Yeah, it’s such a good question. And I’m really the, at the highest level, the way I think about this is, technology should really be elevating the role of lawyers, whether they work in law firms or in house. Making their lives easier while automating repetitive tasks, providing them that with insights that wouldn’t otherwise be at their disposal. On a slight tangent, I speak to universities, law schools, from time to time about this, and I do think law schools have a role to play in equipping the next generation of lawyers to be more tech savvy and tech ready because the role has changed from when I qualified over 10 years ago to what it is today. What we’re doing at Brightflag is really taking this data set that has existed for decades and using AI to provide insights as to how work is being resourced to drive automation in processes around managing legal matters, and reviewing and approving invoices. So in no way shape, or form do we have a view that we’re ever going to be replacing lawyers. We’re trying to enable better decision making and really free up their time to do the more valuable work and to drive a more kind of transparent, data driven relationship between everybody working on the legal matter whether they sit in an in house team when they sit in a law firm or alternative service provider. And that that’s our objective is to make it easier to do the work in the best way possible.

Marlene Gebauer: In your experience, you know, what is that moment where you gain people’s trust in terms of using the system? Like, are there any common themes? I guess, when that that moment happens?

Alex Kelly: Yeah. And I suppose lawyers tend to be relatively skeptical by their nature, which, which is often a good thing.

Marlene Gebauer: No never.

Alex Kelly: I can say that I was a lawyer myself. But I think the moment that often comes for us with customers or potential customers is when they see their own data analyzed in a way that wasn’t previously possible. And when, for instance, somebody is working on a large matter. And they’ve been struggling to kind of manually track the spend and review the invoices and understand how it’s being resourced, based on the data set that’s being provided to them in a kind of assemble invoice by the law firm. And when we can take that and within 24 hours presented to them in a platform where they can now forensically understand how each task has been resourced what level it’s being done at, and how much time has been spent on it, and highlight those insights around potential inefficiencies and how it’s being delivered. And I think that tends to be the aha moment, because this is the sort of data our clients tend to be craving for they kind of they want to understand what’s actually happening. They want to have that visibility and transparency. And it’s very difficult for them to get us through kind of the manual tools or the processes they’re they’re working right now.

Greg Lambert: Oh, it’s hard to have a talk about legal spend without bringing up the dreaded billable hour. So, you know, we’ve been hearing since probably 2008, that the billable hour is dying. And yet we’re in 2021, and it’s still pretty fairly not just alive, it’s somewhat thriving, it seems. Do you anticipate that with a greater understanding of legal spend, that that will lead to more alternative pricing processes and practices?

Alex Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. And I suppose if you rewind to, when we started Brightflag back in 2014, that was myself and Ian’s vision was to transform how legal services are being delivered, moving away from paying, paying for time, ie the billable hour, and moving towards paying for value. And the alternative fee arrangements are the embodiment of that. And we’re certainly seeing that with our clients. And there is, as I mentioned, there’s a maturity journey that they tend to go on. And they start with kind of putting in place the right processes putting in place the relevant kind of tactical controls. And then they have access to this data, which enables them in a very deliberate way to start using data to put in place better pricing models that that more accurately reflect the value of the services that are being received. So I think that trend is only going to accelerate and continue as we see more adoption of technology and and that next generation of legal operations professionals of GCs, and indeed of professionals working within law firms, who are who are more open to it as well and more understanding that that’s where things are going.

Marlene Gebauer: Do you see a role for the use of Brightflag in improving D&I (diversity and inclusion) efforts?

Alex Kelly: Yeah, we do. We have developed a module within our platform to enable Lille ops teams and general counsel to capture diversity data from their from their law firms and their service providers. And I think it is of increasing importance for forward thinking legal teams to be taking a holistic view of the relationship. I think counsel and diversity and inclusion is a really important KPI that we see our clients looking at now and deciding which firms they’re going to work with and continue to work with them. And our platform is facilitating in an easy, easy to use way, the capture of that data to understand the diversity of those those firms and those outside counsel that they’re working with.

Greg Lambert: Well, Alex Kelly, COO at Brightflag. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today.

Marlene Gebauer: Thank you.

Alex Kelly: It’s been my pleasure. Thanks so much, Greg, Marlene, and I’ve really enjoyed it.


Greg Lambert: So Marlene, I enjoyed talking to Alex and I still think back to the blog post that they wrote that was entitled, are you managing your legal spend or merely paying bills. And like I said, anyone that runs a department understands that there is a difference that it’s very easy to just pay the bills that come in. And it’s very difficult to manage the spend that you’re doing. So it’s really interesting to look at how products like this are filling that need in the legal industry, because, you know, there’s billions of dollars being spent. And according to them, there’s potentially billions of dollars to save.

Marlene Gebauer: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. They are not the same thing. And you know, I’m very impressed that that basically, they’re, they’re using analytics to show the ROI of the product and how it actually is able to save money.

Greg Lambert: All right, well,  thanks again to Alex Kelly for joining us today.

Marlene Gebauer: Before we go, we want to remind listeners to take the time to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Rate and Review us as well. f you have comments about today’s show or suggestions for a future show, you can reach us on Twitter at @gebauerm or @glambert, you can call the Geek In Review Hotline at 713-487-7270 or email us at geekinreviewpodcast@gmail.com. And as always, the music you hear is from Jerry David DiCicca. Thanks, Jerry.

Greg Lambert: Yeah, thanks, Jerry. All right, Marlene, I will talk with you later.

Marlene Gebauer: Okay, bye bye.