Good Read: “Virtual law firm FisherBroyles gets real”

By Jenna Greene in Reuters

Link to article

FisherBroyles is a 283 attorneys law firm whose attorneys and staff are “distributed” or remote, a model which is increasingly attractive to attorneys. In their model, attorneys take home 80% of what they bill. In traditional law firms, the take home is often closer to 33%. In 2021, FisherBroyles top-paid attorney took home $6,742,540.

Managing partner, Michael Pierson, says that their hourly rates are often two-thirds what a traditional law firm would charge as there is no real estate cost.

It’s definitely working for the firm. In 2021, FisherBroyers revenue was up 30% to $136 versus $105 million in 2020.

Read more at the link, including about two of FisherBroyles major engagements in 2021.

-Maureen

2021. It’s not farewell. Ransomware, Unicorns, Profits, and Work from Home

While we may be happy to wave au revoir to 2021, one midnight does not change world circumstances. I think that the following four trends that are not likely to go away in 2022.

  1. Our most popular blog post in 2021, by a factor of 10, was this post by our CEO, Seth Hallem, on the REvil vulnerability and the ensuing ransomware. Many IT and security people were kept busy over the July 4th weekend with the Kaseya VSA exploit. More law firms and more businesses overall were hit with ransomware than the public is aware of. At the risk of stating the obvious, this will only grow going forward.
  2. Unicorns, IPOs, M & A, and healthy funding rounds were undefeated by the pandemic. We covered the capital infusion in #legaltech here.
  3. Early in 2021, we learned from Thomson Reuters that Big and Mid sized Law had been very profitable in pandemic burdened 2020. Work from home meant more billable hours. Legal IT departments got attorney up and running from home in quite literally a weekend. In early 2021 the question was, would work from home end as quickly as it had begun? The profits lead one to conclude that it would not. The Delta and Omicron variants in 2021 ensured no quick ending.
  4. Finally, in the fall of 2021 companies such as Apple and Big Law firms were gearing up for early January or February 2022 “return to the office” dates. Then Omicron swept through the globe. Now all bets are off for when, and if, companies will return to the office.

Some good, some not so good. Overall, we can be grateful for the healthy demand for legal services and that so much of legal work can be done remotely.

I wish you the best for 2022!

-Maureen

🔥 Legal Tech: Tracking 12 Months of IPOs and Funding Rounds

A post by Artificial Lawyer provides a clear summary of the trend in the first half of 2021, “Legal Tech Funding Hits $1.4BN, While M&A Soars.” Here, James Goodnow writes about “The Insider’s View On Legaltech VC Funding,” with some salient funding insights from Kira CEO and co-founder, Noah Waisberg. Kira was recently acquired by Litera.

But the reality is that investments are clipping along at fast pace. It’s hard to keep up. I could not find a post which captured the current rounds, so I created a spreadsheet of the past 12 months of legal tech IPOs and funding rounds (Series A and higher). I’m not claiming that it is comprehensive. I’m sure that I’ve missed a few. If you have any to add or any corrections to offer, please let me know via: contact at mobilehelix dot com.

Legal Tech iPOs and Funding Rounds - 12 Months, 2021-November

On November 23, 2021, transcription company Verbit announced that they had closed $250 million in a Series E round that values the company at $2 billion. That’s after raising $157 million in a Series D in June 2021 at over $1 billion valuation, making it one of the first unicorns in legal tech. (To be accurate, Verbit serves more than the legal tech market.)

Also in November, Grammarly, another company with business in legal and beyond, raised $400 million at a valuation of $13 billion. I had to double-check that. Wow. Grammarly has a tool which corrects and improves writing.

Here’s my earlier post on unicorns in legal tech, “We have FOMO in legal tech!”

-Maureen

We have FOMO in legal tech! 🦄

What is FOMO?

Fear Of Missing Out

Today’s legal tech headline:

“Litera secures further investment from Hg”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But we know that:

  • May 2019: Hg purchased Litera investment firm K1 Investment Management. At the time Hg Capital Trust stated that as part of the acquisition, it would lead an investment of $39M in Litera.
  • Litera has trebled in size, per CEO, Avaneesh Marwaha.
  • And from the same press release:
  • Litera is approaching more than 1,000 employees across 17 different countries
  • Litera also has gained over 10 times the number of users since Hg first invested, now serving over 15,000 customers
  • Since 2019, Litera has acquired twelve companies.

And there are 🦄 unicorns in legal tech!

November 2021: Everlaw raised a $202M Series D round at a valuation over $2B.

June 2021: Verbit raised $157 million in Series D funding at a valuation of over $1B.

April 2021: Clio raised a $110M Series E round at a valuation of $1.6B.

December 2020: Ironclad raised $100M in Series D funding at more than $950M valuation.

Ah, FOMO…

To quote investor Kjartan Rist on FOMO, “The fear of missing out on the next billion-dollar opportunity is one feeling that never really goes away.

FOMO is nothing new in Silicon Valley VC-land. But it’s new and exciting in the world of what is broadly referred to as “legal tech.” Legal tech has been known for slow adoption and conservative processes, including mainly using software which is deployed on-premises at the law firm or business entity. In many cases this changed with the pandemic. The overnight necessity to support attorneys and staff working from home catalyzed adoption of cloud-hosted software throughout legal.

My short summary of the phenomenon in legal tech:

☁️ Cloud scales = hyper growth potential

💉 Accelerated by the pandemic

⚖️ Legal (law firms, corporate legal) finally accepts Cloud/SaaS

💰 Capital wants in

🙌 Win / Win / Win

There’s more to this story. For example, FOMO leads to frothy valuations.

But for today…

🥳 Congratulations to the unicorns, the parties to M & A, the newly funded, and the rapidly growing companies in #legaltech! It’s an exciting time to be in legal tech.

-Maureen

Clio 2021 Legal Trends Report

Yesterday was the first day of the Clio Cloud Conference 2021. Clio does a fantastic job of wowing the attendees and creating a community of loyal followers.

Every year the don’t-miss speaker is CEO and Founder, Jack Newton. Jack has big visions. And his execution with Clio has been huge. In April of this year, Clio raised a $110M dollar Series E funding with a $1.6B valuation. When Jack speaks, people are eager to hear what Jack is planning next.

Of the many announcements from Clio today, three are:

  1. Clio Payments: Jack Newton says, “…the most frequent point of friction in attorney-client relationships is collections.” Clio Payments is integrated with the Clio cloud-based practice management platform and syncs with accounting platforms, such as Quicken and Xero.
  2. Clio Ventures: Clio will invest in “promising early stage companies and diverse founders” developing for the Clio platform. Clio has acquired a few companies, most recently Lawyaw, a YC-backed legal document automation company, which had been a Clio partner.
  3. Clio 2021 Legal Trends Report: I look forward to this annual report, full of timely data. The PDF is a free download with registration. I highly recommend that you take a look at it.

I’m highlighting a few points which interested me. There is much more in the report.

First Key Take-away: Client expectations have changed

As we saw in the 2020 Legal Trends Report, the pandemic understandably accelerated clients’ willingness to work with a lawyer remotely. With Clio’s annual data collection, they were able to illustrate the change from 2018 to 2021.

The report further digs into this data by stage of engagement and type of remote communication medium.

Second Key Take-away: Remote services are only part of the picture

I’ve yet to see any survey of criteria on choosing a lawyer in which responsiveness was not the top criteria. Here, “Responsiveness to questions” leads “Price transparency” by a hair. No technology, no remote or in-person meeting capability, is likely to surpass the importance of responsiveness.

Third Key Take-away: Growing firms are really growing.

This data mirrors the data which we saw in early 2021 with respect to the blockbuster year that Big Law had in 2020. See the report for a deeper dive, for example, that growing firms are more likely to be using on-line payments, client portals, and CRM.

And there is more fun stuff!

Vicariously, I like to study the hourly rates by state and by practice.

Also, the KPI data on utilization, realization, and collection rates is eye-opening.

You can download the report from Clio here.

I’d like to thank Clio for widely sharing this fascinating data about the legal market each year. They are committed to the legal community.

-Maureen

Get the Most from iManage Work® on Tablets and Smartphones with LINK

Our “baby,” the LINK App, is a full-fledged teenager now, growing by leaps and bounds and taking the car out for a spin.

If you have not seen LINK in the past 12 months, you’ll find this demo video an eye-opener. Split-screen mode and multi-tabbed view are a fantastically productive way to work on tablets. You work in several lives screens.

This new demo video is a quick way to see some of LINK’s best workflows. Use the timeline to go directly to the feature which you want to see. Let us know what you think. To schedule a demo, write to us: contact@mobilehelix.com.

0:00 – Authentication
0:34 – LINK Home Screen
1:42 – SharePoint / Portal / Web Resources
2:15 – My Files in LINK
3:11 – Navigate in iManage Work
3:22 – Split-screen Mode & Multi-tab View
5:57 – Search iManage
7:30 – Quick Lookup – Client/Matter & Doc ID
8:42 – List All Files
9:36 – PDF Viewer Features
11:02 – Annotation
12:25 – Check-in to iManage
13:20 – Email a File from iManage
15:15 – Edit with the Word App
17:15 – Check-in to iManage
18:20 – Compare Edited Version
19:00 – Inbox: Search, Sort, Filter
19:28 – Open an NRL, Annotate, & Email
20:13 – Predictive & Multiple Filing to Outlook and iManage Folders
22:25 – Compose an Email, Attach a File in iManage, Send & File

Our next ILTA webinar is: “Email Management Integrated with DMS in the LINK App” on October 20th. You’ll see LINK’s email usability features as well as predictive filing to Outlook and DMS folders. Learn more and register HERE.

-Maureen

REvil has struck again. What can we do? Design for explicit access.

At a glance… 

  • Kaseya VSA is used by IT organizations and many Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to track IT assets and to deliver software installations and patches to a network of endpoint nodes.  
  • Over the 4th of July weekend, a ransomware attack perpetrated by the REvil gang and its affiliates was delivered through the Kaseya VSA remote management software.  
  • Each Windows node on the network runs a Kaseya agent, which is responsible for downloading and installing patches and software packages from the VSA server. It is common practice for an MSP to use a single VSA server to manage all of the MSP’s client networks, meaning that one compromised VSA server can create a downstream impact on hundreds of individual businesses. 
  • 1,500 businesses may be effected. 

The fascinating anatomy of the hack 

REvil’s successful hack began with an SQL injection attack against the VSA server. The attacked VSA servers were exposed to the Internet, presumably to allow for remote access to the VSA server by an MSP’s employees. An SQL injection attack was crafted by the hackers to (a) bypass authentication, (b) upload a file, and (c) inject a command to distribute a malicious software patch. This software patch was then dutifully downloaded by Kaseya agents installed on Windows endpoints attached to the compromised VSA server. The technical details of how this was accomplished are explained quite clearly in this article by Sophos

The hack itself is fascinating from a technical perspective in multiple ways. First, an authentication bypass renders an entire stack of security technology (authentication providers and MFA) entirely irrelevant. There is no password guessing or credential stealing involved in this attack. Second, the MSP model where client networks are intermingled in a single VSA instance is inherently dangerous in that a single compromised server (whether it be a via a 0-day exploit or a more traditional stolen credential) can spread malicious software across many disparate organizations, geographies, and networks. Third, it is perturbing that a piece of software like the VSA server was directly exposed to the Internet. The lack of any intervening, independent authentication (e.g., a VPN or IIS authentication using certificates or Kerberos) places an inordinate amount of trust in the security architecture of a single piece of software (the VSA server). 

In general, the best way to mitigate hacks of all varieties is to apply a few principles: 

  1. Keep independent networks as separate as possible, and always require authentication to move between them. 
  1. Authenticate users and devices in layers that rely on disparate software stacks. Software is built by humans, and humans make mistakes that cause security vulnerabilities. Using independent software stacks to layer together multiple forms of authentication ensures that a hacker has to find multiple, independent mistakes that are exploitable in conjunction. 
  1. Because there is still no perfect way to prevent endpoint attacks from happening, effective endpoint protection is essential. The Kaseya exploit relied on anti-virus exceptions on the endpoint to allow a malicious file to be downloaded, decoded into an executable, and run via a shell command. This malicious executable then executed a side loading attack to actually launch the encryption process. Effective anomaly detection could have shut down the encrypting process before it got too far, and an alternative approach to using an anti-virus exception would have stopped the attack when it tried to execute the downloaded executable. 

A collective reconsideration of how we protect networks and endpoints is overdue 

This latest attack from REvil confirms the obvious – the business of ransomware is here to stay. Whether it is REvil, a spinoff from REvil, or an entirely new organization that is inspired by REvil’s success, a collective reconsideration of how we protect networks and endpoints is overdue. It has become standard practice to disable security software in order to enable functionality, rather than demanding the opposite – that software declare its intended behaviors in order to enable security software to detect anomalous behavior. 

A system of specific access vs. access to the entire network 

Our LINK system is architected with this last principle in mind. Rather than assume that all mobile devices need access to the company network (e.g., via VPN), LINK assumes that only a small number of applications and data repositories should be mobilized. To configure LINK, IT specifies exactly what intranet applications, email servers, and file repositories (Document Management Systems, One Drive, SMB shares, etc.) should be accessible from a mobile device, and this specification is role-based so that IT can take a pessimistic approach to mobile access (i.e., you can’t access anything unless permission is explicitly granted to you). LINK also uses multiple, independent layers of authentication – SSL certificates to authenticate the device, then traditional password-based authentication if the SSL authentication succeeds. Finally, each LINK installation acts as its own certificate authority for the purposes of SSL authentication. Hence, stealing a certificate for one installation does not grant access to any other installations. 

As we expand LINK beyond mobile, our goal is to promote a different approach to endpoint computing. This approach starts with the idea that users, applications and data need to be integrated explicitly, rather than implicitly. This creates a work environment that is easily encapsulated, encrypted, and protected with limited entry points and exit points to move data in and out of this environment. While no approach is perfect, the more explicit we are about how users, applications, and data interact, the better chance we have to stop the ransomware business before it expands any further. 

-Seth Hallem, CEO & Co-founder, Mobile Helix

Productivity Boost: Compare Word Files in the LINK App

Did you know that in our LINK App you can compare Word files?

  • Compare two files
  • Compare two versions of a file
  • Compare an attachment in email to a file in DMS

Watch this 16 second video to view comparing two versions of a file in iManage Work in the LINK App.

LINK has the compareDocs engine from DocsCorp built-in for high fidelity comparison results within the LINK secure container.

LINK is integrated with iManage Work®, NetDocuments DMS, OpenText eDocs, and Outlook email. In a single app, compare your files, then email or check-in to DMS.

Watch this video to see full workflows using in-app comparison and using the Word app for editing.

If have any questions, write to us at: contact at mobilehelix dot com. We’d be happy to answer your questions.

-Maureen

Word App Editing Just Got Easier for Lawyers with LINK

We have developed several editing workflows using the Word app over the years. Our newest one is the easiest one which we have seen anywhere. This is in part because our LINK app securely integrates your Document Management System and Email with the Word app. Therefore, you can choose to edit a file from DMS or an email attachment and it will open directly in Word.

Take a look at our 2 minute, 44 second video to see this workflow.

Here’s what you don’t have to do in our workflow:

  1. No need to copy the file in the Word app. LINK encrypts the file and moves it to Word.
  2. No need to save the file as .docx in the Word file. LINK converts .doc to .docx for you.
  3. No need to delete the file from the Word app after editing. LINK deletes it.

This video shows how straightforward it is to edit from LINK with the Word app.

LINK is integrated with iManage Work® 10, on-prem and in the Cloud; NetDocuments DMS; OneDrive; Network File Shares; and OpenText eDocs is in development. LINK is also integrated with Microsoft Exchange, therefore, you have your Outlook Email, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, and Notes within the LINK App.

If your attorneys are looking for a simple way to edit files in DMS or in Outlook email with the Word app, email me. We are happy to show you a demo of this workflow.

-Maureen

contact @ mobilehelix dot com

Annotation Just Got Easier – New LINK App Release

Attorneys have always loved the annotation in LINK because anytime you open a file in LINK, annotation is immediately on the same screen. Whether the file is in DMS or another file share, or whether it’s an attachment to email, it just takes a tap to bring up the annotation menu. Annotate, then tap to email or upload to DMS or a file share.

You can even save your signature and initials in LINK so that you can sign a file with a couple of taps on the annotation menu.

In our new release you’ll see:

  1. Improved location of the annotation menu
  2. New features, including page display settings and grid view
  3. Enhanced layout of the annotation tools, for clearer discoverability
  4. A lighter interface.

We’ve gotten wonderful feedback on these improvements. Thank you!

You can get a quick look at the new UI in this 17 second video:

LINK App Annotation in 17 Seconds

To see LINK’s annotation in a full workflow, watch this video.

You will see how to use LINK’s split screen, then how to annotate a PDF, and email it.

If it looks simple, that’s because it really is. If you would like to see a demo via Zoom, write to me at: contact at mobilehelix dot com.

-Maureen