Fixed Fee Future: AI’s Role in Legal Efficiency and Pricing Innovation – Scott Leigh  – S8E14

Reinvent your legal services’ pricing with Scott Leigh, the Co-Founder and CEO of AltFee. He joined us on this episode to discuss the benefits of non-hourly pricing and alternative fee arrangements, and how they benefit both law firms and their clients. We also talked about the entrepreneurial journey that Scott and his family have been on as they set up AltFee, as well as Scott’s advice for other startups in the software space.  

So why should you be listening in?  

You can hear Rob and Scott discussing: 

  • How to create transparent pricing 
  • Working with Clio 
  • Scott’s professional background 
  • Ai’s impact on legal services pricing 


Robert Hanna 00:00 

Welcome to the legally speaking podcast. I’m your host Rob Hanna. This week I’m delighted to be joined by Scott Lee Scott attended the University of Alberta graduating with a Bachelors of commerce before completing his JD at the University of Calgary. Scott is the CEO and co founder of oak v a software company helping law firms and legal professionals succeed. With non hourly billing pricing. Scott is passionate about providing solutions to law firms, legal professionals and clients. Scott has experienced as a business broker to law firms, legal professionals and clients Scott is very well versed in a number of different roles including legal administrative assistant lawyer and managerial positions early this year, Obi Wan ABA tech show startup alley competition 2024. So with all that said, a very big warm welcome, Scott. 

Scott Leigh 00:51 

Yeah. Thanks for having me excited for the chat.  

Robert Hanna 00:53 

Ah, it’s great to have you here. And before we dive into all your amazing projects, experiences and everything you’re getting up to for the legal community, we do have a customary icebreaker question here on the legally speaking podcast, which it on a scale of one to 1010 being very real, what would you rate the hit TV series suits in terms of reality of the law? If you’ve seen it? 

Scott Leigh 01:14 

I have seen I watched it in its early days. So it’s been been years since I’ve watched it I I feel like for all of these shows, it’s pretty low. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one that felt that realistic, I may be given a a nice two. 

Robert Hanna 01:26 

Nice two, well, you’re very kind with your two. And with that we should move swiftly on stuff all about you and your background and journey. So I’m obviously very briefly touched on things in the introduction, but we’d love for you to tell our audience a bit more about your background and career journey today.  

Scott Leigh 01:41 

Yeah, sounds great. Well, you gave a bit of a bit of the history in terms of my education. But yeah, I did my undergrad with a commerce degree at the University of Alberta while I was playing basketball there, which might surprise some people who meet me in person, because I’m not necessarily over the six foot number on most days, depending on my shoes, but I had a basketball career while while also completing my Commerce degree there, which carried me forward into going into law school at the University of Calgary. And my experience growing up was that my dad was alert. And so I’ve been around the industry for many, many years in some capacity or the other, whether it’s helping him move offices and carrying boxes, or going into the back room and stealing a couple of fresh pens for me to take to school, we’ve got a lot of experience just being in and around the industry growing up. And then that also carried forward into actual roles there at the firm, in varying capacities over the years, including spending my summers there during law school, starting to get my hands dirty, and actually getting closer to practising law. And so got a lot of exposure to the industry early and, you know, had an appreciation for what I saw my dad doing grown up, he’d gone from kind of the big, firm partner to his entrepreneurial bug being too overwhelming, where he couldn’t resist and had a partnership and then ultimately became his own company, which has been running for close to 20 years now, here in Vancouver, and so kind of been around that entrepreneurial side been around the law side of it. And probably both of those to whatever degree played into the decision making of you know, commerce, something that I was definitely interested in the entrepreneurial side of that being interesting, and then ultimately going to law school. And when I for me when I went to law school, I wasn’t quite honestly sure that I want to practice law forever. But I was excited about what that education and that experience could do for me while practising and potentially in more of entrepreneurial business journey as well coming off of that. So that was a lot of the, you know, early days of getting set up. And ultimately that led me to come into my dad’s firm to Article, what we would call article, here’s your first year before you become a practising lawyer and then spending the next six or seven years practising corporate commercial, business law, m&a, that sort of space at my dad’s firm here in Vancouver. So that’s a lot of the foundation.  

Robert Hanna 04:03 

I love that and there’s so many synergies there with them. With my background in a way my grandfather ran a law firm and that inspired me and I remember doing the really important jobs when I was a kid like the photocopying and getting the coffee’s in the in the law firm Exactly. Stealing the pens and yeah, I’m also well, you’re far more successful in basketball than me I’m a failed point guard 511 but with a heel I’d always tried in chapter to six foot very good for missing a free pointer in an easy layup but hey, I tried. So many so many synergies there. That’s mature and awesome. Okay, well, let’s talk entrepreneurship because my late grandfather also ran his own firm I got that entrepreneurial bug of wanting to do my own business but I love your business class have a passion for tech. So as the CEO and co founder of alt V, please please tell us more which I think is a game changer.  

Scott Leigh 04:53 

Yeah, so maybe I’ll start with a brief origin story of all fee which came at the tail end of what was that me ultimately practising, but my dad’s firm, we were a team of 25, or 30 of us as the pandemic hit. And we were kind of doing roughly, I would say, half of our work using alternative fees of some sort, primarily fixed fees, success fees, stage based fees. And that was kind of making up half our work. And it had been on my dad’s mind, in particular, for quite a while that he really wanted to make the shift to provide more of his services for the firm with alternative fees. And so we’re entering the pandemic, these very uncertain times. And, you know, he felt like what better time than now to provide that certainty for our client base. And so beginning of pandemic, in March of 2020, I made the decision that pursuing this was something that was worthwhile. And I was actually coming off a period of time where I taken a few months off traditional work. And my daughter were two young daughters, we did some a bit of travelling with my wife and my daughter, and we’re just coming back and semi figuring out what was next. And so things coincided really nicely where my dad wanted to take on this project, I was looking for that thing that maybe wasn’t purely practising law and was something else. And things kind of married up nicely, where I could support the firm in building that what ultimately became a very manual system. But we spent four or five months, really trying to figure out how do we solve this thing, not on a one off way, but in a way that systematic that allows us to continually improve and get better and better and better. And so that was sort of the what ultimately is now the origin story of all fee. But at the time, it was what my dad calls that his firm Frank feet. And so we just figured out how are we going to do this thing well, and ultimately led to my dad, launching in his firm in summer of 2020, now offers and has been for however many years that is exclusively alternative, he’s for every project he takes on. And so as we go through our journey, we got to dig so deep into the space of legal pricing, something that when you’re practising, and you’re hands on all the time, it’s hard to create some of that freedom of space to think about. And it allowed us, us being myself, my brother, who also worked at the firm, not not in a lawyer capacity, but on the business side of things in marketing, business development, management, as well as my dad, kind of sit back and say, we’ve been doing this for a little bit. Now, as we’ve explored this space. Imagine what a technology solution could do to help us be more successful in building this thing out. And that was kind of this thought in our head of maybe there’s maybe there’s an opportunity here, because there’s certainly nothing out there in the market right now, that’s going to help us with this challenge. And so come fall of 2020. That was sort of us saying, you know, using our great network to pitch this idea and say, Does this resonate? Does it make sense to you? Does it make sense to you getting enough of the support and our obviously internal belief that this is something we want to go pursue. So all fi kind of became a thing, obviously, just an idea, but in the fall of 2020? 

Robert Hanna 07:51 

Yeah, and I love that story. And let’s talk more about alt V because as I said, I get excited when I get to speak to entrepreneurs in this legal tech space, but are really getting it as well. And getting at the heart of where there is a need, in my opinion to to utilise this technology for good. So hopefully maximises legal pricing workflow improves collaboration and efficiency within law firms. I like to treat myself as a five year old, can you explain in very, very simple terms, to everyone listening? How the heck does all the work?  

Scott Leigh 08:25 

Yeah, yeah, 100%. So, you know, some of the challenges that we faced early as we explored this space and start to build it out from my dad’s from his stuff that we wanted to provide solutions around. So at the very highest level, what we’re doing at all feet, is what we say is we’re helping law firms be confident and successful with their non hourly pricing. And so the way in which we do that one of the first major challenge that firms typically face when they’re offering alternative fees is inaccurately scoping out their work. And that’s because typically, we’re just going based on the own experience that we have in our head, maybe walking down the hall to, to talk to Jill and say, Hey, Joe, you did you know, the shareholder agreement three months ago? How did that experience go for you or whatever, you know, it’s very rudimentary. If we can call it a system, that we have to offer alternative fees. And so what we said is, let’s help solve that thing first. So that thing is making sure that we have a system that breaks are various types of work we do at our firm down into individual project types, or if it’s more complex, individual stages, and let’s give each of those projects, the time and the care they deserve so that we can scope those accurately. So in our system, we have what we call guidelines are sort of templates. But it’s really a space for all of those typical complexities and areas of scope to be centralised so that we have a starting place in which we can continuously learn from an add to but we really are in a position where we have a checklist of sorts off the start to help us really accurately scope out this piece of work we’re going to carry on. So for most other businesses, that sounds obvious, but in our industry be under the alley model, it hasn’t been obvious. And so the first piece of the puzzle, let’s accurately scope out every piece of work that comes in the door. The second piece of the puzzle, which is kind of the exciting piece of where things are going ties back to our our win at Tech Show in terms of our messaging, it’s what we call modifiers. But this is more of your value based thinking. So how I typically describe it is those tasks and complexity are often more of those things that take time. Our modifiers are a value based thinking that may not affect how long the project takes. But based on our internal considerations, or the value the client is receiving from these services. Each of those may play a role in affecting what the right price is to charge for our services. And so we said, Let’s systematically and provide a consistent system which everyone in our firm can use, so that we look at those modifiers, those non time based considerations every single time we praise. So that’s the second stage. And then I’m sure you got questions. I’ll the third, the third stage is communication, right? So how do we package up this, the scope, the complexity, the value of the services we’re providing, in a way that allows us to be consistent with how we’ve been talking, and package it up in a way ultimately, where we can have $1 amount and a description of what we’re doing and have that agreed upon with the client. So we can go create that cost study for them and get the work started. 

Robert Hanna 11:22 

I love this, like, it’s just so well thought out, it’s really sort of process driven. And it’s really getting to the heart of pain points and providing a really good effective solution to clients, which is something I’m really on board for. But again, I really just want people to understand why this is such a game changer. And whilst we’re keen to get you on today, and sort of break things down a super simple term. So you know, your goal is to help law firms live professionals succeed with non hourly pricing of services, right. So for those who may not be as familiar, or maybe just new to coming into the industry and started their career, how would you describe what hourly billing is? And what is non hourly bearing? Or what would be some of the sort of things to kind of keep them top of mind and educated on those points? 

Scott Leigh 12:06 

Yeah, yeah. So hourly is obviously what’s been been driven into our industry for for a long, long time. That’s this idea that every individual within my firm has an hourly rate associated with them based on their experience level, typically. And when someone comes to me for a piece of work, we all have hourly rates at our firm, and I’m simply going to multiply how long it takes each of us to work on this by our hourly rate to come up with a number. And that number is generally what I’m going to put on the invoice. So I’ll I’ll maybe save a lot of the challenges that come with that. But there are a lot of challenges that that come with the hourly model for all the reasons that people who have experienced it. And you know, the reason why when you ask most attorneys and lawyers what the worst part about their job is it often comes back to something relating to the billable hour. And that’s just from their perspective, let alone the clients perspective. And so let’s put that to the side for a sec. And let’s talk about what what you’ll often see described as alternative fee arrangements or a ifas, sometimes described as non hourly to kind of group it broadly. For us, what we what we care about when we talk about alternative fee arrangements is really anything outside of the hourly model in which the client is in a position to get cost certainty for the work that we’re carrying on. That’s a semi all fee definition, in terms of the cost certainty piece of it, which we feel is important, but that’s the idea. So as examples, we’re talking about things like fixed fees, right, so you come to my firm, and you want to get the incorporation of your company done, no problem, I’m going to do my analysis, hopefully on all fee and come out and decide that’s going to be $1,500. And you’re going to know going into that project that is gonna be $1,500. And us as a firm, you know, one of the exciting things as a firm is that we’re actually motivated to be efficient, for the for the first time, because I have an hourly model the most, you’re actually financially rewarded for inefficiency, which obviously is quite backwards when you think about it. And so the idea around alternative fee arrangements, whether it’s a success fee, where I’m getting a percentage of the win out of it, whatever that is, or more of a stage based approach, where I’m kind of assigning fixed fees through different stages, all of those ultimately reward the firm for being efficient, and motivate the firm to get that work done as best as possible on the client’s behalf.  

Robert Hanna 14:23 

Yeah, I love that. And that’s really important, isn’t it? Because we talk a lot about on the show, sort of being efficient, you know, best in class, you know, all of these good things. And the reality is, you need to change the culture to like you say reward for being more more efficient. So I want to talk about sort of transparency, because what steps does it take to ensure non hourly pricing remains fair and transparent for all parties involved?  

Scott Leigh 14:52 

Yeah, well, it’s a huge piece of it and that from you know, our experience, one of the one of the personal challenges that really frustrated me with the hourly model was this What I described as a misalignment between the legal service provider and the client, where, on day one, as soon as we decide I’m going to carry on this piece of work, I’m financially rewarded for inefficiency, you on the client side, you’re, of course, looking for efficiency on carrying this out. And so there’s this immediate misalignment, which doesn’t bode well for building a great relationship with your clients, both during that project, but also longer term. And so the idea with alternative fees is that let’s shift that meaningful conversation around scope and around money primarily to the front end, right, let’s, let’s not do this at the back end, where I send you an invoice. And I sit there hoping that what you think value is, is the same as what I think value is, and you pay my invoice without complaining. And we can carry on all happy, let’s not do that. Let’s shift the conversation to the front end, let’s be honest and transparent about how complex this piece of work is going to be. Let’s educate our clients to the degree that they need to be educated on how difficult this thing is going to be. And where this thing could go left or right. Right, let’s have that conversation on the front end. So we’re as aligned as possible before we sign that engagement letter and actually carry on the work that we need to do. And so I think it’s really important from a transparency perspective, to shift those more meaningful conversations to the front end, so that we’re all in a position of aligning expectations before the work starts. 

Robert Hanna 16:24 

I think that’s so important because no one likes to feel stuck at the back end, right. And so by doing it right at the front, and you like completely having the conversation out on the table, everything agreed, I think it’s just such a better way to do business. And then you build trust, and all these other things in terms of longevity, most likely to get referred, because it’s a new way that you’re thinking all that good stuff. So I love it. And it’s a little bit about challenges. And we’ll talk more generally about entrepreneurial challenges, but as something I wanted to ask to you as sort of a lawyer and having experienced challenges of hourly billing, why have you made it your mission to provide solutions to benefit law firms, legal professionals and clients alike? What is that real? Why for you? 

Scott Leigh 17:07 

Yeah, and it, you know, it stems from being around the industry for a long time. And there’s a few different motivations that led to it, you know, put aside the, you know, personal entrepreneurial excitement that our founding group has, but more just industry specific. So we saw a few things. One is that, you know, we’ve been around this industry for a long time. And we actually saw a lot of people that were great legal minds, just fully leaving the industry or getting away from private practice, or areas where their skill set was really valuable. And so we looked around people like myself, we looked around and saw a lot of people leaving an industry that has a need, that has a very important role in society. And these are great minds that are just picking up and doing the next thing because it’s not providing whatever they need out of it. And so part of our motivation was, especially for for my dad, who’s been in the industry for a long time, one of his big motivations, for sure was was around this idea of I want to make sure this industry is in a great position when I’m sort of transitioning on from my, from my work side of it. And so there was that piece of it. And then we just we looked at our clients, right, and we said, how truly how good is this experience for our clients. And we know there’s crazy stats out there like something along the lines of 77% of legal challenges don’t get legal help. And so we know there’s a huge latent market of people that deserve to have some support. And we view the lack of transparency, hourly model and the pricing side of things as one of the big reasons why that is often a challenge. And when you ask someone you walk around the street and ask someone about experiences with lawyers, or the legal industry is typically not positive, it typically comes back to lawyers trying to make a bunch of money off you whatever the case is, like, it’s not a positive message often, right. And I think that’s a real negative for an industry that has a huge latent market of people that need help. So we looked at these things. And we looked at three main groups, what we viewed as the three main stakeholders, the law firm itself, the legal professionals that work there, and the clients of the law firm. And when we looked at this model, and then started to experience it ourself, as we rolled it out, at my dad’s firm, we realised that actually all three of these key stakeholders could be in a better position under a non hourly model than under an hourly model. And once we realise that, and we experienced it firsthand, it was clear to us that we wanted to support in one way or another, more people making this transition and being successful under this different model. 

Robert Hanna 19:40 

Love it, love it, love it, love it. And you know, it’s been a it’s been a huge success. It has to be said I want to talk about some of your your wider media because in tech Cooper’s article in February of this year, you state with increased adoption of AI and other efficiency gaining technologies into law firms which reduced the time to take to complete billable tasks, law firms must reevaluate their pricing models to ensure that pricing aligns with the value of their services. powerful quote. So how do you see the role of AI evolving within law firms? Yes, of course, we’re talking about AI, and how will this affect their pricing strategies? 

Scott Leigh 20:18 

Work in Pike podcasts in the legal sphere? Wouldn’t have some AI context around it, right? Yeah. So that, you know, especially the last six or eight months, you know, obviously, the broader idea of AI has now been around for whatever, a year and a half or so. But I would say the last eight months or so we’ve personally really felt that meaningful shift in conversations from people where it was exciting, but it was also kind of scary, but but interesting for people in the early days, and it started to shift to real life use cases, and people started to appreciate how valuable this type of technology can be for our industry. And so what you know, as part and part of our pitch at Tech Show was really coming out that angle that that quote, sort of talks about, which is this idea that when you are adopting AI, that’s typically going to help you become more efficient. And historically, in law firms, we’ve looked for efficiency in administrative tasks, but less so in our actual work, because that’s going to take away from our billable time. Now, what’s exciting, that’s real life happening right now that we see and feel is that firms are adopting types of technologies that reduce how long it takes to carry out billable tasks. As soon as you do that in a meaningful way, you have to reevaluate what is the value of the services that I’m providing? And does that actually align with the price of the services, irrespective of the time that it goes into it. And so this idea around efficiency, AI, and how that fits with the billable hour, those dots, we have felt being connected, you know, we’ve been sort of missionaries pushing out there trying to educate, provide resources and do all that for a while now. But, you know, starting call it eight months or so ago, we’ve really seen those dots starting to be connected for firms of all sizes, right? We have the big firms that have pricing teams that think about these things, which caught their attention early on. But now, you know, ranging down from everywhere from the, you know, true solo and upwards. They’re starting to connect these dots as they explore the implementation of AI or what this looks like for their future. And on our side of it, you know, we obviously like that conversation, because anytime you’re creating efficiency within your practice, you should be thinking about whether it’s with all fear or otherwise, you should be thinking about how you’re going to make sure the price of your services aligned with the value of your services, ultimately. 

Robert Hanna 22:38 

Oh, I like that. That’s powerful. Yeah. And it’s true, isn’t it? It’s great that you are seeing these sort of dots starting to connect together because I’m a big advocate for for Tech for Good. Look, there are a lot of challenges. And there’s a lot of ethical considerations and everything in between when it comes to AI but with the right people doing the right things and trying to solve real problems actually pass on the benefit to clients and employees and reduce stress workloads and reduce bills. I’m all for that. So. But let’s talk a little bit about being mindful because people can get carried away when they hear things, you know, what should law firms be mindful of when transitioning to new pricing models in response to AI technology? 

Scott Leigh 23:18 

Yeah, I always view it as depending where people are at in their journey just grow incrementally, right? If if you’ve traditionally been affirmed that exclusively operates under the hourly model, but you see this happening, and you want to start to move in this direction, grow incrementally. And if that’s testing out a few different project types that you do test out the fixed fee model, right, keep it simple. Look at things that you do with repetition, things that you’re comfortable with, and start taking baby steps toward that transition, if you feel like you’re not quite ready to move in a meaningful way. And that way, you’re in a position to start to feel the shift. And this is some of the coolest conversations that I have seen have been around people that have had that, that aha moment operating under the fixed fee model. And it can be various things it can be, you know, I did a fixed fee project for a client, I sent the invoice and they paid it immediately. And I didn’t have any conversation with them about it. Collection collection rate should be close to 100%. That’s amazing. People have felt that the other one that I that I really love to hear because it’s a personal one for me is that they operate under a fixed fee. And once they have that upfront conversation and agree upon fees, they’re on a team collaborating with that client to get to a desired outcome that they’re all going towards. And it’s this crazy shift of like this misalignment to alignment. And when you’re a practising lawyer that’s been doing it for a while, you feel that shift, and I get to talk to a lot of lawyers that have had various experiences doing it. And it’s one of the coolest things to see their eyes light up when they’ve had that experience. And once you have that, it’s hard to go back like you’re not going to shift maybe on you know, overnight necessarily, but you’re going to start growing in that way. And so, as a piece of advice, I guess I would Say grow incrementally. And you know, we, whether you’re using alt V, or we, you know, we have other resources to help people just start your thinking around operating this way. Truth is 80, something percent of firms are offering some type of alternative fuel already. So it’s not new, it’s more of investing, whatever you need to be successful, more successful in that, which comes back to obviously, a lot of the stuff that we’re trying to help with that all feed, but whatever that is, for you grow incrementally and grow at the speed that you feel like is right for you and your firm.  

Robert Hanna 25:29 

Yeah, I always say run your own race at your own pace. And, you know, I love the fact that, you know, one step forward is one step forward, right, rather than than where you are at that particular time, you know, perfect, you know, I was talking about, you know, I’d rather have imperfect action over perfect inaction. So if you’ve listened to this today, you’ve got curious about this, you know, take that one step forward to learn a little bit more, maybe book a call, maybe speak to somebody speak someone who’s already doing it, you know, those little steps like you see compound over time and have huge, huge upside down the track. Okay, let’s go back to 2022. Because of the integrated with our show, sponsor, Clio, who, you know, we’re all big fans of so would you mind outlining how that integration works? And what are some of the benefits? This integration has with clear? Yeah, 100%. 

Scott Leigh 26:16 

Clear has been such a great integration partner for us and just a partner in general, we’ve been down to their conference, we’ve been a finalist in their integration awards, and got to know jack and some of the leadership team over the last few years. And there’s so much alignment between what we believe in in our industry and what Clio is doing. So in terms of the the practicality of what our integration does with them, there’s kind of a couple at this point, there’s a couple of main features that it adds to our mutual customers. One is that through that same process I talked about with an old fee, where we’re Gen Y, ultimately generating what the right price is for this project, and how we want to communicate that to the client, we can take all of that automatically pull it into Clio. And within a few clicks, you can have that consistent description and dollar amount to generate your flat fee invoices from within Clio. So really simplified that flatfeet invoicing process between the two platforms. And in return, we’re capturing data from Clio in particular, we’re capturing the recorded amounts that your team members are putting towards the various projects and pulling that into all fee. And so while you’re able to see an all fee is a direct comparison between, you know, the flat fee amount that I’ve come up with, with an all fee, and then both during and after project, I can see how that compares against the allocation of our resources as a team, what, you know, what’s the amount of time that our various team members have put towards this project? What does that look like if we had been doing this under an hourly model. And so that’s been a really powerful, we launched, we launched that functionality heading into Clio Con last year. And that was really powerful for a lot of these customers that we’re sort of talking about, which is those that are wanting to make the jump looking for that boost of confidence as they do it, because now they can draw that direct comparison between, here’s how I did it with my fixed fee. Here’s how I would have done this under the hourly model. And I can start to either one, clearly see my big wins, which is obviously the goal over time. And two, if it didn’t go great, it’s going to put in in front of me and say, hey, it’s pretty clear, you did not do great, why is that? It’s going to encourage you to ask yourself and your team, why is that? And then take those learnings incorporate that back into your office system. So when you do that same project next week, you’re in a much, much better position than you were before. So those are the primary areas that the integration sits in and adds value for our mutual customers.  

Robert Hanna 28:42 

Yeah, and it just sounds like a beautiful collaboration. You know, I talk a lot about collaboration is domination, a lot on the show, and that’s just a really good prime example of, you know, two to two organisations working well for good. Okay. Again, I like to keep the show super simple for everyone listening in maybe you’re curious about law, you’re in the law, you’ve been in law for years. What are AFS? So on the outfeed website, you have the AFA firm directory. Tell us more.  

Scott Leigh 29:07 

Yeah, so AFS alternative fee arrangements. Again, that’s what we would describe as anything non hourly, that provides cost certainty for the client up front. And so those are the examples I gave fixed fee, stage base fees, success fees, periodic fees, all those things, subscription, all that fits under that broader definition, in terms of the directory on our website, so this is an AFA directory. Really, this is a directory targeted at law firms that are offering some of their services using alternative fees in a way that brings them together. And so it’s kind of partially a community idea where we want to bring together firms from all over the world that are coming out this challenge or this opportunity, from the direction of I provide some level of services using alternative fees I’ll give them an opportunity to briefly describe what their approaches talk about the type of work, they do their firm size, all that, it’s obviously a bit of an opportunity for them to get their name out there, you know, be on our website. And hopefully, as a place that, you know, we can gain traction around in terms of visitors and get people moving towards their websites as people that are doing things a little bit differently. So for any firms that are out there that are taking an alternative fee, arrange alternative fee arrangement direction with their services, you can jump on the site and and quickly sign up and get added to that directory with ease.  

Robert Hanna 30:33 

Yeah, no, absolutely. It’s a seamless process. But it’s not always seamless, as if building a software company, it’s no easy feat. That’s for sure. So, you know, we always appreciate sort of the the authentic entrepreneurial journeys on the show, what have been some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome while building?  

Scott Leigh 30:51 

Yeah, super, super challenging at times, right? I think that’s kind of, if you’re in a space, that’s, that’s nice, that’s novel, it’s even more challenging. And so we faced a lot of that, especially in the early days of really having to work super hard and just be resilient to whatever happens that we’re going to keep getting back up and coming off of this thing, because we truly believe in what we’re doing and the potential of what not just the software, but this concept has for our industry. And so, yeah, I think there’s, you know, through our, you know, whatever we’re at three plus years of, of our alt fee journey, lots of that resiliency really having to come through of, you know, pushback from you know, we’re we’re going up against a lot of people in a in a traditional industry. And quite honestly, I very rarely have any of those very, like confrontational conversations, I truly feel like people are seeing this coming. And it’s more a curiosity around how we can go about doing it successfully. But yeah, a lot of those challenges are natural challenges of I think anyone starting a business, right? There’s personal challenges of how am I going to deal with this financially, with your family with everything else at home? How am I going to make sure this fits, so I can keep that going in a really in a really positive direction? And then you have all of these natural business challenges that you would expect, right? How are we going to market this thing? How are we going to get in front of the right people, all these sorts of challenges were very real for us, and especially real for us, because we did have this very novel concept that we’re coming out saying that you might be doing a little bit of this. But imagine if you took this technology and roll that into your mix, how powerful that would be, when when you have people that aren’t necessarily asking for your software, you’re in a you’re in a different space than a very established category of technology, right? So we face a lot of those challenges in our early days for sure. 

Robert Hanna 32:42 

But the great thing is in the word that really stuck to me, which you said there was resilience, and I think you have to have heart because it’s not straightforward doing this. And if you really believe in what you do, you will find the resilience to keep coming back. Like you said, keep coming back coming back. And now you know, absolutely you’re only three years in but the results are incredible. Just last month CEO and founder of clear tech unicorn, you know, multi billion dollar valuation organisation Jack Newton himself congratulated you on a LinkedIn post on winning the ABA tech show startup alley competition I mentioned in the introduction, that’s got to feel good. But how did you feel about winning that competition?  

Scott Leigh 33:21 

Yeah, it does feel good. And I think, you know, it’s, each of those sort of external validation points are really satisfying and motivating for the team. I think you know, that that particular experience was an interesting one, because it was a multi stage, you know, a lot of people applied that through judges came down to top 25, through through a polling system that got down to 15. And then the 15 of us all pitch live at tech show in Chicago, in February. So kind of all of the different stages that you had to go through to get there made it almost more rewarding, because you had the judges, you had the voting, you had the in person voting. And so all that combined was really rewarding. But I think the biggest piece for us around that. And obviously, we’ve gotten to know Jack over the last couple of years by living really close to him, but also through the integration and our relationship with Clio. So spending some time with him. And being congratulated by him is is awesome. But I think one of the really important points for us was that as we prepared for that, in terms of what our pitch was going to be, right, it’s three minutes, it’s the same, you don’t have a lot of time to, to go on a long spiel around this, you had to get to the point. And the point that we really want to focus on was we knew that 13 of 15 of us were AI focused, right, not putting not putting off in that category. We would not put ourselves in AI first we came at it from a problem and we had a solution. We know that AI can be incorporated as part of our product moving forward, but we really wanted to frame it as look at all these companies both here in terms of the startup out of the competition, but also broadly across this expo hall we’re all going to see for the next few days. Look at everyone and look So many of them are talking about AI. And let’s talk about truly the impact that AI is going to have on this space that we live in pricing. And that connecting of the dots was something that we really tried to encourage with simple messaging around this, which we’ve already talked about today on the pod. But that messaging is the messaging that obviously resonated with people enough to vote for us to win. And that, for me is the most exciting thing is those dots are being connected in a more meaningful, more direct way than we have seen to date. And us winning that, for me is a direct reflection of where our industry is at in their thinking around pricing, and how it’s creeping up that priority list for law firms at a pretty incredible pace. So all that to say it was a great experience, super exciting, awesome to come up with a win by getting to be up there with 15 other awesome legal tech startups of which for them are from Vancouver. So we got something going on the water over here was wasn’t overall great experience.  

Robert Hanna 35:56 

Yeah, and I guess sticking with that experience, as well as the competition, what were your highlights from the ABA tech show 2024. For those who maybe weren’t able to attend?  

Scott Leigh 36:05 

Well, we started off by flying in and directly going to see our hometown, Vancouver Canucks play against the Chicago Blackhawks and hockey, so that that might not hit home for your UK crowd as much. But that was pretty cool. That was pretty cool to see. So we started off with a bang. And then yeah, we got a lot of time, you know, one of the things that I really enjoyed around the experience of texture was connecting with other people that are with whether there were software companies, whether they’re consultants, it definitely had a quite a partnership feel to it. And I would say one of the things that has really stuck with me outside of the competition, and the wind and all that good stuff coming off that experience was actually some of the Law School professors that I got to connect with, was so exciting for me, because I went through law school however many years ago, this for sure, was not even a topic of interest. Definitely not. But even like the practical skills, it was it was very theoretical, right. And my law school was actually quite forward thinking in the practicality side of it. But I had multiple law professors I got to have conversations with and I’ve kept conversations going with post conference, about how excited they are. And they’re teaching innovation classes. And they’re so excited about this topic, they want me to come and speak or do sort of like a collaboration of sorts of how do we get our last students some exposure to your software. And so I presented to one, a week or two ago, I have another one, which were sort of collaborate on how we can make this meaningful, back and forth work for their law students to get exposure to this idea. And so I just came away, excited about one of the most original problems or challenges that we felt in the industry around the people in it, and then leaving, it just felt exciting to see how you’re getting taught these unique things that I certainly wasn’t taught when I went through law school that ultimately I believe, will create a better experience for those within our within our industry and motivate people to find the right roles within our industry that fit their interests and their excitement levels. So that was one of those things that still, you know, a month, whatever it month plus out is still sitting with me as something that was super exciting to hear about. 

Robert Hanna 38:12 

I love that. And I just love the energy from those sort of shows that you get. Yeah, all of that good stuff. And the hockey that lands on me as a general sports enthusiast over here. Yeah. So you get you get, I’m not gonna ask you not gonna ask you where you see your business in the next five years? Because frankly, I hate the question. I’m gonna ask it in the way that I would like to be asked is, What are your future plans roll? 

Scott Leigh 38:33 

Yeah, so much in so many ways. We feel like we’re just beginning right, we’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible. And we have lots of plans, both in terms of the business side and what we’re doing on the product. But for us, it’s really, you know, a huge piece of this is just helping more and more forms, more and more firms be successful under this model. That’s ultimately what we wake up and try and do every day. However we do that, and that’s through, you know, resources that we can pass on to someone that’s not a customer that’s through providing a great experience on the product that’s through extending our integration with Clio to tap into other areas of data insights that we can generate for them that will allow them to make meaningful decisions. And so for us, you know, it, it’s all about what can we do as a business on all the all the different arms of our business, to help more law firms be successful under this model, and start to test the waters right start to make that that transition at the pace that makes sense for you. How can we hear it all fee support you in that journey? So we have lots of different things that we have on the go and that are part of our future plans to enable that to happen, but that’s what definitely keeps us motivated and passionate to keep waking up and doing this every day.  

Robert Hanna 39:43 

Yeah, and I just feel the passion and I just know it’s going in every right direction that you want it to add more and we’re huge supporters of old fi before we look too close, just want to ask a couple of pieces of wisdom from from you and your journey. If you were to take a step back in time. What did voice Do you wish you had known about building a software company? And what advice do you have generally for those looking to start their entrepreneurial journey? 

Scott Leigh 40:07 

Yeah, such a good one. I think you know that that resiliency persistency. I think for those that are thinking about whether it’s software, you know, I don’t come from the software industry. So I think I came from the legal industry and just saw an opportunity and kind of had enough, you know, naive enough to say, yeah, we can go figure this thing out. And you kind of need a bit of that. But you also need to, to match that with a lot of resiliency, and this idea that, you’re gonna fall on your face a bunch, and you got to keep getting up and going after it. And so I think for me, I would look at look in the mirror again, and for anyone that’s going to go out on their own, and whatever journey they’re going on, and just make sure you’re out for that. Because it’s hard at times, and you wear a lot of that on your shoulders, and maybe only on your shoulders at times, depending on what kind of business you’re starting. And so make sure that you’re up for that resilient ride. And I guess the other piece for me, which you’ve you’ve mentioned, I know, there’s a lot of people that start businesses with things they’re working on, that they’re not necessarily passionate about, but they see an opportunity. And for me, that would be challenging. For me, one of the things that has made this, the most rewarding part of my career hands down the last three years, is it’s something that I believe in so strongly, I’m eager to wake up, I’m eager to work on that I, you know, those Sunday scaries aren’t a thing, I’m not worried about Mondays, I’m excited for Mondays, all those are just, you know, I feel very fortunate that I found that, but it’s a topic that I care about a lot, I’ve seen how impactful it can be in a positive way on this industry. And therefore, it enables me to keep waking up and getting after it. And when you get knocked down, it makes it a lot easier to get back up when you believe so strongly in the space that you’re in. So I think those sort of concepts are maybe things that I wouldn’t have thought about as detailed when I went and said, Sure, we can go build a software company, I don’t, I know nothing about how to build software, but I’m gonna go figure this thing out. So the last piece to that I would say is, which has been very important for our CO founding group is is just a determination to keep learning, right? If you have this attitude, where you’re excited to learn the next thing. And honestly, I wake up every day and I face new opportunities and challenges and have to learn every day pretty much is my life. And so if that’s exciting for you, then this is a good space. If that’s not exciting for you, then, you know, being entrepreneurial can can potentially have a lot of challenges that come with it. So yeah, I guess a passion for your topic if you can for what you’re working on resiliency, being persistent and then excited to learn and be a sponge with all the learnings that around you would be a few things that I you know, looking back and maybe forward looking at are things that I think are super important.  

Robert Hanna 42:59 

Yeah, and three things I would absolutely echo and agree I couldn’t say it any better myself. This has been an absolute masterclass guy as I knew it was going to be and I’m sure our listeners are going to want to know more about you. I’ll be so where can they go to find out more Also feel free to shout any social media handles and website links will also make sure that we share them with this episode for you, too. 

Scott Leigh 43:21 

Yeah, sounds great. I can pass on some some links for you to include in the comments on our website is Alt fi ALTFE You can find me easy to get me on LinkedIn, just search my name is Scott Lee last name spelled L E IG H so those are probably the most natural places to come and learn more and get started with the journey. But yeah, excited to connect with those that the topic resonates with and definitely do reach out and happy to jump on calls or connect via email as well. So start from LinkedIn and let’s go from there. 

Robert Hanna 43:53 

Yeah, absolutely. That’s what it’s there for. Thank you so much, Scott. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the legally speaking podcast but from now from all of us on the team wishing you lots of continued success without being your career. Over and out. 

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