Breaking News: Leaders Don’t Know Everything

Jun 20, 2024 4:10:55 PM / by Ryan Short

Nor should they. No individual can possess mastery over every function of a large, complex organization. Ideally, people with complementary skillsets and dispositions are recruited, developed, and provided sufficient leeway (in the form of decision making and funding) to contribute to the mission of the organization.

All purchasing decisions have decision makers (person/people with signing authority) and influencers (frequent users). Legal tech and eDiscovery are no different. Here are some of the sources attorneys consider to be influential as they make technology purchasing decisions:

  • Staff feedback

  • Peers

  • Consultants

  • Expert reviews

Executives Need Input

Perhaps you have worked at a corporation or law firm where an executive was dead set on forcing through a shiny flavor-of-the-month toy with little evidence, painting a grandiose picture about how revolutionary the software is, how much of a differentiator it will be in the marketplace, how new client acquisition and client retention will skyrocket, and how the organization will be better, faster, and stronger.

But the vetting process was incomplete, the tool isn’t flexible, the workflows don’t align, the technology doesn’t integrate with other software, the user interface is ugly. So, people may pay it lip service but ultimately ignore it - or maybe they use it, but don’t maximize its potential because it’s cumbersome.

It’s not that executives have bad intentions. But without fostering both the cultural expectation that feedback is expected from every level of an organization and means by which that feedback can reach decision makers, they can become detached from the vision of the organization’s future and the reality of the present.


"Influencers" Are Incredibly Important

These are the people in a law firm or corporate legal department who will use the legal tech tools most often – perhaps daily or multiple times per day.

The most important reason for a legal tech vendor to build relationships with influencers is that they can tell you most clearly where your tool is or is not a good fit. This can inform communication strategy, deal timing, and most importantly, the product roadmap.

Many times, these company influencers know whether a tool can help cure major organizational heartburn or whether it would just be seen as a luxury. They can also help map out what the buying cycle looks like – who the key players are, what those people’s roles and priorities are, the organization’s fiscal calendar and budgeting practices, etc.


Multiple Perspectives are Required

Humans do not thrive with change. We evolved to value safety and predictability to avoid being eaten. These days, the eating is metaphorical: a competitor may “eat your lunch” but you’ll probably make it home to your family in one piece. Still, the sense of discomfort or alarm when facing change or uncertainty is hardwired into our DNA.

The trick is to include necessary stakeholders without falling prey to paralysis by analysis. For example, influencers wants to know about workflows, legal wants to know about the terms and conditions, and decision makers want to know about payback periods and client-impact.

There’s a serious challenge of scaling technology across law firms. The worst thing a vendor can do is sign the deal, pat themselves on the back, and move on to find the next deal. The greatest growth opportunity for any legal tech vendors is expansion of current clients. A vendor’s job is to make early clients incredibly happy so they can be an internal guide to navigate the organization, helping the vendor land the next attorney, the next practice group, the next office, etc.



Formal hierarchies are necessary for most organizations to have any semblance of consistency and scale.

But every single person in the organization has an important role to play, and an important perspective that can help incrementally improve, or revolutionize, an organization’s effectiveness, client satisfaction, and profitability.

Whether you’re a business development professional, an mid-level manager, or an executive, don’t overlook the people who keep the wheels turning.

Tags: Industry Analysis, eDiscovery, Law Firm, Legal Services, Risk Management

Ryan Short

Written by Ryan Short

Ryan joined Proteus in 2020. He is an MBA and a Certified eDiscovery Specialist with over a decade of experience in publicly traded, PE-backed, and bootstrapped entities focused on technology-enabled services. Ryan lives in Indianapolis with his wife and their 5 children under the age of 9. Consequently, his wife won't let him buy a dog.