Vinnie Scarinci explains why evergreen + empower from sa.global is an ideal option for law firms operating sunsetting PMS systems and those evaluating new PMS solutions.
In this Q&A, Vinnie Scarinci, former Thomson Reuters executive and currently former Vice President, Legal Practice at sa.global, answers important questions facing law firms who have a fast approaching sunset date of their existing platform. Many of them are evaluating new solutions to move their law firms into the future and here we introduce the sa.global cloud-based product suite – evergreen + empower, built on Microsoft Dynamics 365, designed specifically for the legal practice as an option to the Elite crowd.
Q: Why is this a great time for law firms to evaluate evergreen + empower?
A: Law firms are looking at the sa.global evergreen + empower product suite for two main reasons. First, there are many firms who still need to find a new practice management solution because they are nearing end of life for their current system. These firms need a product that solves their business issues but also implements quickly because any delay will put them at risk of being on an unsupported system. Second, law firms are looking to evaluate sa.global solutions because they have a desire to get to the cloud. They see the value the cloud has to offer by easing infrastructure costs, automated upgrades, and reducing the staff effort of maintaining their on-premise solutions. These firms also know that the cloud is the future and ask themselves, why implement a solution that is not going to last you for the long term?
Q: You mentioned firms are looking to implement quickly. What is the rush?
A: For many law firms, a sunset date is fast approaching. No company wants to be on an unsupported technology especially something that is business critical like a financial system. Migrating to on-premise or cloud systems that are in the market today takes a long time. Firms are now facing the reality that if they do not do something quickly, they will be in an unsupported state. If you start to reengineer the timeline on an average implementation, delays will be devastating to their projects. The great part of evergreen + empower is that we are 100% cloud-based; so we deploy in almost half the time. Not only will they be getting one of the best cloud-based finance systems in the world, but they also get the peace of mind knowing that a cloud-based implementation gives them much more cushion in case there is a delay on either end.
Q: What would keep someone from just upgrading to the new version? Isn’t that the intended path?
A: Well, the short answer is that there is no upgrade to a new version. Many laws firms that had Elite Enterprise really had hoped it would be an upgrade. The next step for those firms is a whole new system offered by their current vendor. This is causing the firms to evaluate all the options in the market. Law firms are partnerships; so large capital investments are taken very seriously. When you purchase an on-premise solution, you need to buy the software, maintenance, and a portion of the services before you start the project. That can be a huge capital outlay for law firms. To make matters worse, the firm will not get a chance to use that software for 12 to 36 months. Sometimes that involves multiple annual maintenance payments even before a system goes live. Those additional payments really hurt because the internal teams are working so hard to get the on-premise solution moving with nothing to show for it. Firm management may start to lose trust in the teams because they spent all that money and years later, there is nothing to show for it. The sad part is that because the process is so long, the firm almost always goes live on an old version of the software. The whole process must start over again to work towards the new version. You can see why the management and internal teams get frustrated.
Q: The sa.global evergreen + empower suite is built on Microsoft Dynamics 365. What compelling benefits are there for law firms in an end-to-end Microsoft platform solution?
A: I struggle to think of another industry more dependent on Microsoft as a solution provider than legal. Almost all the work products that law firms produce come directly out of the Microsoft applications. It just makes sense to extend what the attorneys are doing on their desktops deeper into the firm. Microsoft’s platform is a proven solution and a very trusted partner to the legal community. I am confident that anything Microsoft brings to the legal industry will get a deep evaluation from most law firms.
Q: How comfortable are law firms with the Microsoft platform i.e. Teams, Power BI, Power Platform, and Power Apps?
A: IT teams in law firms are extremely comfortable with the Microsoft platform. They have been using many of the tools like SharePoint, Active Directory, Authenticator, and Azure for years. More recently, the IT teams are working with the Power Platform to solve business challenges inside the firm. A great example of that is one firm wanted to get a payment request process built for their Aderant Expert system. So, they used Power Automate to quickly build out that process. Microsoft Teams has come into law firms by storm during the pandemic. The rapid rollouts were largely for the video conference capabilities. Law firms then started to understand the power of Teams and embrace it into the workflows. I can see that Teams will become a big favorite for attorneys in the years to come. That tool offers too much productivity for attorneys to overlook.
Q: The sa.global option for Elite customers is our evergreen + empower suite. What can you say about evergreen + empower as an option?
A: evergreen + empower are built on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform specifically for law firms. To me, evergreen + empower provide a tremendous opportunity for law firms to streamline their internal processes. When I look at the existing products in the market, they perform the day-to-day tasks, but are not focused on operational excellence. That is where our toolsets differentiate us. Many industries are obsessed with eliminating waste in their processes. The legal industry is in its infancy of streamlining their business compared to those industries. The legal industry is improving every year in this area. If you add evergreen + empower into that mix, you give the firm an easy-to-use tool that provides a real competitive advantage. At sa.global, we are doing things that the incumbents have never dreamed about. We offer things like no-code frameworks to do workflow, bot technologies that assist lawyers, and automated quality testing to eliminate the drudgery that has plagued the finance systems for decades.
In addition, here are 15 topical reasons why law firms should evaluate evergreen + empower:
Microsoft Cloud Platform
- Built on top of Microsoft Dynamics 365
- Continual enhancements to accelerate growth
- Drives business efficiency and faster time-to-value
- Anticipates future opportunities and threats
- Makes the cloud easy
- Native collaboration
- Embedded where the attorneys work
- One system – start small or do it all
- Launch pad for client and peer collaboration
- Ethical walls – simplifies your process and life
- Future-proofs your technology
- One version of the truth
- Outsmart, outpace, and outperform competitors
- Powered by the billable hour
- Easy onboarding and training
Q: In addition to these features, do you think on-premise users are ready to move to the cloud?
A: 100%. Law firms were very hesitant regarding the cloud but about five years ago, they started embracing it. Billing and PMS is one of the last frontiers in legal to move to the cloud. I think law firms are tired of spending so much time and energy on upgrading the PMS systems. The cloud helps solve that problem.
Q: Other legal systems are on Azure as well – is there a difference?
A: There is a big difference between what they are doing with Azure. We like to say that evergreen + empower are “true cloud” solutions because our applications were born in the cloud. Our cloud is a private cloud which gives law firms so much more ability. They can control access to their own data, data residency, scalability, customization, and it gives them access to the 200+ Azure services like artificial intelligence. If you are a non-techie, this might help you envision the difference. Think of owning and operating your iPhone, that is our cloud. You go to the App store, download the cool stuff that you want to use, update when you want to update, or maybe just set the iPhone to update automatically. Now with the other legal cloud solutions, it would be having to call Apple every time you wanted a cool app or upgrade.
Q: One of the most exciting aspects of the new Power Platform technology are the Virtual Assistants. How is this relevant to law firms?
A: In my opinion, the coolest thing we are doing is the work on the Legal Assistant – it is basically an automated assistant that comes with our evergreen + empower platform. It is an exciting piece of functionality because finance teams tend to run thin on staff. The Legal Assistant is right out of science fiction. The attorneys just chat with the assistant and it can complete tasks like getting copies of invoice matter information or even log time. It saves both, the attorney and finance team, so much time. I’d like to say that the assistant moves evergreen + empower from being just a finance system to being an extra member of the finance team.
Q: Finance managers also remark on our out-of-the-box ease of use functionality like setting up multi-currency.
A: Yes, this is just one of the out-of-the-box features evergreen + empower brings to the table for finance teams, which makes the set up and configuration of the implementation a much smoother and shorter process.
Q: sa.global talks about “meeting users where they are”. What more can you say about this?
A: Yes, what we mean is that every law firm is in a different place in their lifecycles. Some people are looking to replace their finance system and others might just want to replace a component. For example, let us say a firm is running Aderant Expert or Thomson Reuters 3E and they have no interest in replacing it. That firm could take advantage of the empower Power BI dashboards or other empower offerings. You can choose to start small and grow with any of our solutions.
Q: How do we compare regarding configuration?
A: The great part about evergreen + empower is that it is 100% configurable and customizable. Wherever the client wants to take the solution, it is completely capable of going there.
Q: Vinnie, I have heard you say this is the only solution law firms will ever need – why?
A: We chose the name evergreen because our solution is always growing, evolving, and always up to date. The Microsoft cloud powers that evolution. You know that Microsoft, the world’s leading enterprise software company, is not going anywhere. You can be sure that your investment in their cloud products will last your firm a lifetime and sa.global will make sure that it is always up to date.
Q: sa.global products help a law firm be a better firm rather than just a better business. What more can you say about this?
A: I think law firms over the last five years have started to re-imagine what the modern law firm looks like. Law firms started to focus more on the execution of legal matters in a very efficient way. That mindset has started to trickle throughout the law firm. Efficiency can make a huge difference in profitability. Firms are investing in technology so they can lower their cost on work products and ease the burden on their staff. The sa.global products are all about helping firms with this journey. In fact, that is why we named the suite “empower”.