Legal tech made simple

Interview with Karl Chapman, director Kim Technologies

June 01, 2020 Dom Burch
Legal tech made simple
Interview with Karl Chapman, director Kim Technologies
Chapters
Legal tech made simple
Interview with Karl Chapman, director Kim Technologies
Jun 01, 2020
Dom Burch

Karl is a director at Kim Technologies. Kim is a Knowledge Automation and Workflow Platform applicable to all sectors and functions. Through its no-code configuration model Kim enables knowledge workers to take control of their critical business processes to improve decision making, speed and effectiveness. Kim does this utilizing its patent pending artificial intelligence, assimilation and data management capabilities.

Karl is Strategic Adviser at EY Riverview Law and has a long pedigree in starting, growing and managing successful companies. 

In 1987 was Money Observer’s top-performing UK unit trust fund manager. In 1989 he set up CRT Group plc which grew to a market capitalisation of over £600 million. In 1996 CRT sold 50.1% of its equity for £109 million to Knowledge Universe, a private US-based company.

In 1999 Karl left CRT and set up AdviserPlus Business Solutions in 2001. He remained as owner and non-executive until its sale in 2016.

Karl Chapman joined Riverview Law, a legal services business, as Chief Executive in 2011 following its creation by AdviserPlus. Riverview Law was acquired by EY in August 2018 and Karl is a Strategic Adviser to the company.

In this episode Karl discusses digitisation, how legal has been a relative outlier, how companies are consolidating their IT and tech stack, leading to a rise of the platforms, and no code or low code solutions. 

He believes there are three no regrets decisions as companies move through the change curve:

  1. intake/allocation management to focus efforts on higher value work
  2. self serve
  3. outside counsel management

Tune in to find out more.


Show Notes Transcript

Karl is a director at Kim Technologies. Kim is a Knowledge Automation and Workflow Platform applicable to all sectors and functions. Through its no-code configuration model Kim enables knowledge workers to take control of their critical business processes to improve decision making, speed and effectiveness. Kim does this utilizing its patent pending artificial intelligence, assimilation and data management capabilities.

Karl is Strategic Adviser at EY Riverview Law and has a long pedigree in starting, growing and managing successful companies. 

In 1987 was Money Observer’s top-performing UK unit trust fund manager. In 1989 he set up CRT Group plc which grew to a market capitalisation of over £600 million. In 1996 CRT sold 50.1% of its equity for £109 million to Knowledge Universe, a private US-based company.

In 1999 Karl left CRT and set up AdviserPlus Business Solutions in 2001. He remained as owner and non-executive until its sale in 2016.

Karl Chapman joined Riverview Law, a legal services business, as Chief Executive in 2011 following its creation by AdviserPlus. Riverview Law was acquired by EY in August 2018 and Karl is a Strategic Adviser to the company.

In this episode Karl discusses digitisation, how legal has been a relative outlier, how companies are consolidating their IT and tech stack, leading to a rise of the platforms, and no code or low code solutions. 

He believes there are three no regrets decisions as companies move through the change curve:

  1. intake/allocation management to focus efforts on higher value work
  2. self serve
  3. outside counsel management

Tune in to find out more.


Dom Burch:

Welcome back to Legal Tech Made Simple the podcast by me, Dom Burch, I'm not a lawyer and I'm not particularly techie, which makes me perfectly placed to make legal tech simple. Now, delighted today to be joined on the podcast by Karl Chapman . Now Karl has an illustrious career dating back to the late eighties where he was Money Observer's top performing UK unit trust fund manager. He helped set up what is now known as spring PLC, which grew to a market cap of over 600 million. Carl left left there and set up advisor plus business solutions in the early 2000s and remained an owner and non-exec until its sale in 2016 and then he joined Riverview law, a legal services business as chief exec also. And the reason we're talking this morning, he is a director at Kim technologies . Now Kim is a leading no-code configurable tech platform that allows organizations to automate their workflows, their case management and documents and it is applicable to all sectors and functions. So welcome to the podcast, Karl, that's one hell of a bio.

Karl Chapman:

You make me feel very old, Dom. I'm delighted to be here.

:

Well, you've crammed a lot in by the sound of it . You've crammed a lot in. Well, I'd like to think so. I'd like to think that I'm actually younger than I actually am, but what the heck,

Dom Burch:

don't we all, don't we all? So take us. How did , how, how do you end up now with them, with Kim technologies? Let's just walk us through a bit of that journey because I guess those sequential things that I just described very, very quickly and there's an awful lot of detail in there, but, but that's led you now to Kim and just perhaps give us a little bit of that journey and how you've ended up here today.

Karl Chapman:

Well, as always, there's an element of, of luck in that journey. But I think that the biggest single theme is listening to customers and what they're seeking. So ironically, we ended up setting up Riverview law in 2011 , because customers of our previous Business Advisor plus, an HR managed service business , asked us to start doing their employment law work. And we sat there and went, well this is all very interesting, but we are an HR manage service business. It's doing all your employee relations activity. Why large organization, do you want us to do your employment law work? And to our surprise, they responded, "well, everything you do is fixed price. So we have clarity, you have a dedicated team to our accounts. You understand our style and our culture, our ethos, our risk appetite. You have a platform which means we have real time trend information, data; you have monthly review and planning meetings..." So we frame things - and I was really surprised even though I read Law, by the way, I've read law - never practiced - But I was really surprised when they said that because my initial response was, well, don't you get that from your law firms? To which they said, no, everything is hourly billing, we don't have management information and data real time, we have little technology... So interestingly, the reason we ended in law with Riverview law was because customers of our other business advisor plus asked us to do employment law work. And then we well we looked at the legal market, we were genuinely surprised. Multi billion pound market, the supply chain was finding it difficult to satisfy customer needs and that, that was really manifested in the fact that we saw corporate legal departments increasing the size of their teams. So real shock whenever we were speaking to general counsels doing our research, they typically said, well, we're increasing the size of our team internally because it's cheaper for us to recruit lawyers than it is to use law firms. You know what supply chain creates a situation where it's cheaper for the supplier, for the customer to do it itself. And then you what you added in there, the absence of data and the nearest on technology was, you know, word, spreadsheets. Um, you sat there and thought, well this is a really interesting market - Multi billion pound market, very, very high margins from law firms and, a nd a customer base, which actually is, has had enough and i s moving in a different direction. So we just saw an opportunity. So w e l istened to customers and just reflected accordingly.

:

And it must be exciting coming into a sector like this where the assumption is they're going to be all over this, they're, you know, surely that , you know , they've adapted in the way that maybe let's take accountancy firms or even, you know, small firm bookkeepers have had to adapt using technology over the last 10 15 years. I mean , I came into this sector really only a year ago and I was flabbergasted really, it just, how much opportunity there still is for simple automation, you know, using technology, even plugging technology together that people already have.

Karl Chapman:

Absolutely. I mean I think one of the things that intrigued us in Riverview law was how quickly we were seen to be innovative and disruptive and we were sitting there going, well hold on a second. We're applying a business model called managed services, which we've applied to two other sectors, recruiting and training and HR over the last 25, 30 years. So I think what's interesting, the legal function is one of the last to transform. And there are lots of reasons why that's occurred and you're right, you know we thought it was a massive opportunity in 2011, 2012 as you say, you came in a year ago and in many of those opportunities still exist. It's slow progress. However, there is progress. You've had the rise of legal operations teams, you've had the rise of I think, which is good news, the rise of the internal corporate legal teams driving change, they're the big change agent, they pay the bill. So I think we're seeing that change and you're having structural change occur because you're seeing technology and new entrants come in, which I think is driving that train . So you're right, very exciting. Great opportunity. I think being rifle shot rather than shotgun is really important in terms of making sure that, you know, you position yourself to exploit the trends and the opportunities that exist.

Dom Burch:

And we were talking, you know, off air weren't we about just this trend towards digitization and how legal, although it has been an outlier is now really kind of getting its act together and there's quite a lot of consolidation going on, isn't there in terms of whether it's the IT stacks at different organizations have and so forth. Just talk us through how you see the market today and how y ou, how you see those k ind of moving parts beginning to s lop together.

Karl Chapman:

I think you've , you've hit probably some of the big, big agents of change. So if you think about it from a, an organization perspective because with Kim we're focused on corporate legal departments and you think about a corporate legal department, you know , it's not an Island in an organization. It is now being subjected to the changes and the pressures that most other functions - sales, finance, HR - have been subjected to for decades. Um, so now I think what you're seeing is legal recognize it can't be the analog outlier in a digital transformation because there are digitization programs taking place and they are across the end to end process. Legal is part of that process. So you've got that change, which is driving things. I think you've also got the IT function. The IT function in an organization is quite rightly trying to reduce i ts tech stack. So, you know, one of the big things that shocked us when we came to the legal market was the absence of platforms, which is why Kim exists, you know, Kim is to the legal function, what Salesforce is to s ales. What, Workday is to HR? What SAP i s to f inance, it's a platform. And I think what we're definitely seeing as a trend is the corporate legal department driven by digitization, and driven by the tech, the IT function, reducing the tech stack and driven by the pressures that it's now under that it has not been subjected to before. I mean, the absence of data, when you think about it, it's mind boggling that here we are in 2020, but most general counsels globally cannot answer the question, what work do we have? W here's it come from, who do we allocated to? Where is it in the process, u m, why did we close it? And if you think about it Dom, if you were the chief executive and I was a sales director and you asked me the question, "Karl, what's our sales pipeline? What's our forecast for this week, this month, this quarter against budget, by product, by geography..." If I couldn't answer that question, what would you do?

Dom Burch:

You wouldn't be there that much longer. I wouldn't have thought.

Karl Chapman:

Absolutely. If I was the finance director and you asked me the question, "Karl , what's our cash flow forecast? How's that against our banking facilities?" You know , all the questions anticipate. Again, you would actually wave bye bye to me, I think, relatively quickly. What's interesting in the general counsel's office, they have so many point solutions. They don't have a platform that gives them an integrated data layer that allows them to answer the fundamental questions which allow them to evolve the actual activity. Now what we're seeing now, we've seen it particularly over the last couple of years, I think it's accelerating sadly because of Covid-19 we are seeing a thirst for data, a thirst for platforms. And I think what's interesting, you know, think about foundations, think about a house, you know, foundations of a house are underrated but are absolutely critical. We think about the foundations of any function. You really do need to know what work you've got. You do need to know where it's come from and you do need to know what you've done with it and where it is in the process, and when you close it. That foundational bit is, now we're seeing that as a real theme coming over from corporate legal departments. And I think they're a fantastic change agent . So we are absolutely seeing digitization, consolidation of the tech stack, the inevitable rise of the platforms, and particularly the move to low code and no code. So the ability to be able to make changes at the front line rather t han have to go through change requests. And you know, by the time you g et the change request back in three months time, it's not what you wanted and by the way you've moved on anyway. So I think those changes are happening, but underpinning it, the thirst for data.

Dom Burch:

So just talk us through that Low code/no-code cause I think this is still probably quite a big barrier in a, you know, in-house legal teams mind, not just having to go through this change process because of course, you know, they'll know there's lots of inefficiency. They know they need to go through this digitization journey. There'll be pressures coming in on cost and they , they want to have all of this insight, actionable insight at their fingertips. But there are, you know, there'd be barriers in front of them. They going "I don't know where to start" or "this sounds complicated"... just talk us through some of this no-code/low-code because actually that's about making the user experience so much easier, isn't it, for somebody who perhaps isn't from an IT background, doesn't want to understand configuration, all those kinds of things.

Karl Chapman:

Well, I think you've hit - the get started p oint is fundamental and I come to no-code/low-code cause it helps d rive it. But I want you to imagine, Dom, that you and I are the general counsel and chief legal operations officer of an organization. And we have our, u h, peers in other organizations in similar roles. Here's the reality. The reality is whatever our target operating model, however big or small our function, whatever sector we are in, there a re actually three "no-regrets" decisions that we can take, which actually help us evolve our model, actually achieve our objectives both from a performance, moving our team up, the value curve, productivity, data. There a re three no-regrets decisions, whatever your function, whatever your size, w hatever, whatever s ector you're in and wherever you are around the world. A nd those three, no-regrets decisions a re intake and allocation management because actually if you want to know what work you should have your team doing, I want them to move up the value curve to do the high value stuff. Well actually this workout, what work do we actually have? So we know what we can self serve, u h, what we can automate, what we can outsource and how we can actually make sure that w ork that was going externally we can bring back in house where appropriate. So intake a nd allocation management, if you think about it, is a no-regrets foundation decision. If you lay across the top of that (it's a horizontal one by the way, b ecause it's across all functions a nd a ll work types). If y ou now think about another no-regrets decision, it has to be self service because if you and I sitting there going, right, okay, we now know what work we've got, we can now make decisions about what are we going to i n- source , what are we going to out-source? We're going to move our team to do this, we're going to self serve that. Well, self-service frees the internal team to go up the value curve. What's the point of having an internal function if it's not to actually be closer to the business and have big business impact? Well you need to move them away from low and mid complex activity. Self service is a perfect horizontal for that because whatever the work type , there are different things. It could be self-served from answers to questions to documents. Um, and interesting from a, from a business users perspective, I get my answers quicker, so I'm happy by the way. Thank you, Legal function! Thank you! So I've got three no-regrets decisions: 1) intake management; 2) self service. And the third is obviously outside counsel management. And I think what's interesting is we see a lot of people and I think it's very powerful. You're building tools are very powerful. Um , but in one sense they sit at the end of the process because it's after the event. But hold on, let's make sure we go to the front end of the process and understand why we allocate work externally. Is it because of capacity or capability? Actually just make sure when we're allocating it, we know that law firm A, law firm B and Law firm C who've got similar work, why are they taking different times to actually complete that work? Where are the blockers in the process? Let's have consistency? So I think before you even get to low code and no code in any transformation, whatever our target operating model, there are three no-regrets decisions and they're foundational elements of any platform like Kim . So you know, think about those three things. Now if you put on top of it, the ability to have it as no code or low code, which means that you and I, with no IT development or coding expertise, can make those changes as we're going along. So if today we came out of a meeting with the sales director or the risk function or the finance function and we've said, hold on, we need to put this additional step in the process for governance and risk perspective, we actually need to change these templates, these clauses now because either our risk appetite has changed, or law's changed. Actually I want a dashboard that now shows me this. Dom , I want you and I to be able to leave that meeting with half an hour , within half an hour to have done those things. That's the power of low code and no code. So now when you start adding all these things together, digitization, consolidation of the tech stack, low code, no code, and actually end to end integration. So you know a platform in legal that integrates with Salesforce and SAP and DocuSign and the appropriate utilities. Now you've got an ability to transform the function at pace . Now, here's the irony. Legal has a great opportunity to move quicker than the other functions did because they've been through this process over the last 20 years. Let's learn from them. So I think all we've done and probably you see coming from outside the legal market, all we've done is apply some of the thinking that we've seen in other sectors, in other markets and brought it into legal. Now do we make mistakes? Crumbs? We make loads of mistakes. Do we get everything right? Of course not. But I think the issue is the trend is really, really easy. You can see it. It's as clear as a bell. If there is - can you have a bell, which is clear by the way? I never quite understand that analogy.

Dom Burch:

There must be a glass bell somewhere surely! So quickly. You know, we're, we're, we're up against it time-wise, but just talk me through, just talk me through a typical deployment then if you can, eh , you know , in a few moments just to how , how do you go about that ? Is that something that you like to implement yourselves? I mean there's a real shift now between a lot of the software companies who are beginning to sort of say, we don't need to do the servicing element. What we want to do is make sure our software is absolutely world-beating and we'll let other people implement it, configure it, plug it in, go through that change curve. What's, what's a typical Kim deployment look like?

Karl Chapman:

Kim's business model on the head from day one, Kim was launched in 2013. It's first available product was in May, 2016 after three years R and D. And it's now , release functionality every quarter roughly. So it's now Kim version 10.2. And in terms of implementation, Kim's whole activity has been focused on the product. Kim is a global SAS products business, so Kim does not implement the product. It uses partners to do that. And I think that brings the best of all expertise to bear. Kim is great at developing products, at evolving that product , at hitting those big themes, you know, seamless integration with O365 or Salesforce because you want people to be native in the environments that are used to. So Kim is focused on the product and we work with implementation partners and the client for the implementation partner to actually help them launch it. And because it's a no code platform, typically we see a model which is the internal team end up with a number of configuration experts cause it's no code , uh, the implementation partner drives implementation projects and then transitions it through for the BAU evolution to the internal team. And then the implementation partner effectively moves on to the next project with that organization. Because invariably the power of Kim, the thing we've noticed is that when people deploy for one area, it actually becomes viral because it then starts applying to other work types and more detailed verticals in different geographies. So our model is very much, Kim is a SAS products business. We focus on the technology, we work with partners to be able to take it to market and implement it.

Dom Burch:

Brilliant. Well listen, Karl, we could talk all day. Perhaps one final thought. What's your kind of outlook over the next 6, 12 months? You know, obviously Covid and working from home and the economics of reverberations I guess if economies effectively being put on ice , um , how do you see things playing out in the next 6, 12 months? I don't want you to predict too far off in the future.

Karl Chapman:

Oh well I think interestingly there are a number of different sides to that. I mean from a business perspective I think everyone who's in business has to double down and focus on what they are good at and understand what they're not going to do. Because I think you define yourselves by what you don't do rather than by what you actually do. Cause you can get too distracted, can be too much of a butterfly. So you know , one of the things we've done with Kim is we've really focused it down on the things that we know are world-beating and globally applicable. I think from a personal perspective, and I think from a society's perspective, I do think Dom, this is a time for all of us to stand up and be counted because we are moving into an environment where we have to create an entrepreneurial spirit, which creates wealth that expands the tax base so that we actually can make sure that the generations coming through have a future. We've rightly invested a huge in the furlough schemes and obviously protecting people. We've now got to make sure that we all stand up and are counted to actually make sure we deliver wealth. That allows us to have the society we want to live in , in a , particularly the younger generation. Now we've got to make sure that they have high prospects and they can contribute to society. Really critical for all of us.

Dom Burch:

Well, on that note Karl, we'll leave it there. Thanks so much for joining us.

Karl Chapman:

Absolute pleasure.

Outtro Music:

[inaudible] .