Knights: pursuing positive disruption in the legal industry

Knights: pursuing positive disruption in the legal industry

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WebTMS talks to Ben Travers of Knights about technology’s role in a future-focused law firm

Although it is a sector steeped in history and tradition, the legal industry is under the same pressure as many other sectors to modernise and digitise.

Today’s clients and lawyers have changing expectations regarding what they want from services and careers. Clients want swifter, more sophisticated services to deal with increasingly complex legal issues in business and society. Lawyers want fulfilling careers with a positive work-life balance. This challenges firms to meet the demands of growing workloads without compromising the wellbeing of their employees. It’s a difficult balance to achieve.

Effective technology use is an important component of achieving this success, but digital transformation – alongside the cultural and commercial transformation that must accompany it – is not easy. To learn more about this, we talked to Ben Travers, Partner at Knights, to learn why a disruptive approach combined with tactical technology adoption is helping their business achieve growth alongside customer and employee satisfaction.

A ’positive disruptor’

Knights is the largest regional legal services business in the UK, providing a premium service from 23 locations throughout the UK. More than 1,200 professionals work together as one team, combining local knowledge with national expertise. The intellectual property team is fast growing provider of IP services, offering a complete solution including litigation, trade mark filings, contract drafting, and strategic portfolio management. With a national presence, the team supports some of the world’s most well-known businesses and some of its most innovative start-ups.

Ben Travers describes the business as: “a positive disruptor, bringing genuine change to the legal sector.  Our non-traditional structure (we are a PLC, not an equity partnership) helps us to offer something different to both lawyers and clients.  The differences are not just structural, they are also cultural.  We have a really strong one team culture, which is encouraged by our not having any targets. All of this means that our teams are encouraged to focus on client delivery.”

Integrating technology with legal expertise

Knights is acutely aware of the role technology plays in a modern law firm, supporting the delivery of a premium service. Ben says: “It is important that our teams have the tools they need to deliver a world-class service.  Our teams need to feel part of that premium delivery, so we invest in technology which makes both their tasks and the clients’ interaction with our services as straightforward as possible.”

Despite clients’ growing expectations around technology use, Ben is clear that high levels of expertise and personal service remain the most important factor for clients: “Clients are becoming increasingly open to the use of technology in their business but, as a premium provider of services, they come to us for the strategic advice, backed up with emotional intelligence which the technology cannot match (yet).”

Specifying an IP Management solution – key criteria

The key is empowering lawyers and support teams with the technology they need to amplify their expertise and free up time for in-person support. This was front-of-mind for Ben in 2022 as he explored technology to support the busines’ fast-growing IP Services team.

“It was essential that we put the right tools in place as early as possible,” he says. “It was important that we had tools that made the work as seamless as possible for our teams and clients. 

“As the marks under our management grow, the peace of mind offered by a management solution was essential – operating a premium trade mark business at scale without an effective management solution was not an option for us.”

Ben was looking for a fully featured IP portfolio management solution, but that wasn’t the only decisive factor. “It was really important to us that a technology partner worked with us to understand our business and how their tools would fit in with the work we do. Strong and highly available support was another essential,” he explains.

Knights also needed a tool that could scale as the business grew, was client-friendly, and intuitive for the in-house team. “Working across the UK, it was important to us that a management tool provided easy access to information, especially key dates and other risk factors.  The ability to provide clients with a snapshot of their portfolio was also key.”

Building a partnership with WebTMS

Having met the WebTMS team at INTA and being aware of the company’s industry reputation, Ben and his team decided to include WebTMS in their shortlist: “We demo’d a number of solutions, but WebTMS offered the features we needed with an easy-to-use, uncomplicated interface.”

WebTMS has all the features the Knights team needed, from its user-friendly interface and client-sharing options, to its powerful docketing features, automation tools, software integrations, and customisable reporting and email templates.

Technical support was an important aspect of the implementation phase, as Ben explains: “Working with the support team has been a key part of onboarding this technology. From initial training through to responding to specific queries, the WebTMS team has always been responsive.”

Now the solution is in place, it is having a positive impact on the day-to-day work of the IP Services team as they provide a premium service to trade mark clients.

View on the future

As a technology-forward business, Knights is keeping a close eye on emerging technology, such as AI and the automation, to reduce administration and amplify the expertise of its lawyers.

“Technology has huge potential for changing the legal profession,” says Ben. “Personally, I am more optimistic than pessimistic for the future of legal technology.”

He points to its capacity to power collaborative working across teams and locations, and how it streamlines the work of lawyers by enabling rapid document review and case analysis.

However, he acknowledges that the legal sector, in common with many others, will face cultural, technical, and educational challenges as new technologies come on stream.

“A key challenge in our profession (and no doubt others) will be training future generations on how to use emerging technology, such as AI, but also to ensure that those employees understand the work the technology is doing. For example, many partners in our business spend much of their time providing strategic advice to clients, the skills to do this have been honed over time, focusing on tasks which may, increasingly, be done by technology.  The profession will need to ensure that future generations continue to learn these strategic skills, even if the way in which the day-to-day advice is delivered changes.”