Graeme Johnston / 12 November 2023
Off in the West Highlands this weekend (photo taken a few minutes before finalising this post)
Reflecting on the week just past.
Software product management is certainly one of the harder things I’ve done. It involves things like:
- Understanding complex needs of diverse people working with the law in all sorts of roles and organisations
- Addressing those needs in ways that are usable and helpful to individuals in the short term, but also create a virtuous circle of value in the long term as usage and users scale up
- Prioritising within various constraints (and constraints help – up a point)
- Executing with top design and solid, secure engineering
- Maintaining the vision, and the simplicity of execution, while being sensitive to particular needs and to what we discover on the journey
- Keeping an eye on developing needs and tech, trying to filter out the
Anyway. Last week was a good one.
First – two great law firms, who each piloted Juralio a year or so ago have now completed their various internal hoops and started to use it in earnest. That famously, awkwardly long legal sector software sales cycle. It’s never ‘complete’ – the next stage will be for adoption to spread out from the initial groups championing it. But milestones like this are always great.
Also – we decided last week that the project which has taken up most of our development and design effort in recent months is now sufficiently close that we can confirm a private beta from the start of December.
- Juralio, our software, already allows the processes of legal (and other) work to be defined in a flexible, non-fragile way and collaborated on, easily and beautifully, at both instance (matter / project) and type (template) levels.
- The new financial functionality will add numbers to that – the time and rates which determine cost; and the various approaches which – linked to time or not – are used to define pricing. Better ability to improve process and secure profitability can flow from this.
- Crucially, the process and financial dimensions will be joined up in a way which we believe will be uniquely effective to match the numbers to what’s actually happening in the real world.
- ‘Private beta’ means that
- we’ve tested it sufficiently to ensure that the back end and data will be secure and effective but there may still be some user interface glitches
- it will be a useful but relatively light set of financial functionality – we plan to build out various complex aspects when people are able to give us feedback based on their actual use. “Build-measure-learn” / OODA and all that
The problems involved are really hard ones. As a former lawyer myself, I hope I may be forgiven for saying that legal work can validly be analogised to understanding and influencing the behaviour of
cats squirrels, with all that this implies.
The last few months, in particular, have been intense. Digging deeper on the problems, speaking to all sorts of people who use Juralio already or who are interested in doing so in future. Trying out approaches. Seeing what works. Figuring out how it scales. Showing. Listening. Rethinking. Challenging ourselves: what do we really understand, how can we understand better?
If you’ve ever read Ursula Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness, you may recall Genly Ai thinking about a long journey across challenging terrain, recognising the toughness and uncertainty but also the joy of it.
Thankfully, my colleagues here – in engineering, design and customer success – are a pleasure to work with (Ai’s relationship with his travelling companion was more complicated!)
But as we approach this next milestone, this is how I feel:
- Excited for the next stage of the new financial module – which will involve more learning and building, but with people increasingly using it in their day-to-day.
- Slightly sad to leave this stage and wanting to take a moment to reflect on the magic of this “on the cusp” moment.
- But much more 1. than 2.
The bigger picture is that I believe that
- The legal market is starting to change in significant ways now, driven by factors I’ve talked about elsewhere on this blog and won’t rehash here.
- Juralio is highly aligned with what both lawyers and clients need to navigate that change successfully, as it enables process, time and pricing to be addressed together in a much more sophisticated way than the familiar ‘docs, messages, time recording and attitude’ approach.
- We’re onboarding existing customers to the new beta financial functionality during the first two weeks of December.
- We’re also showing it during that period to people who’ve told us they’re interested in potentially using it in 2024.
- If you’re at a law firm or legal department and interested in handling your work and pricing more effectively, let us know and we’ll see if we can at least show you in in these December weeks.
- We’ll then take a break in the second half of December to prepare ourselves for 2024!
Our focus at the moment is still mainly in the UK, but we’re gradually going further afield. Different currencies will be offered in the financial functionality from day one.