Legal Operations Solutions: How to Separate Value from Vaporware
Legal Operations Solutions: How to Separate Value from Vaporware

Legal Operations Solutions: How to Separate Value From Vaporware

Kelli Negro |

When it comes to technology-based Legal Operations solutions, it’s vital for CIOs, CTOs and other Legal Ops tech leads to spot the differences between what a technology promises it may (eventually) deliver, and the benefits and ROI it actually provides from its first day of implementation.

That’s brought home in a new article, What Legal Tech Needs To Learn From The Theranos Debacle. Theranos, of course, was the healthcare technology company whose bold promises about its blood testing tech earned it $700 million from investors and a $9 billion valuation.

Its claims, thanks to investigative work by the Wall Street Journal, were found to be inflated, even criminal; last week its founder/CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, its former president and the company as a whole were charged with “massive fraud” by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

As the column’s author, attorney Carolyn Elefant, explains,

“If the Theranos saga sounds familiar, it should because we’ve seen it play out in the legal tech arena. Any lawyer who questions or constructively criticizes a “disruptive company” is derided as a Luddite and ostracized from further conversation. The echo chamber likewise extends to the legal trade press. The media picks up on every company press release boasting of strategic partnerships and integrations and AI and blockchain. Yet few reporters ask whether that strategic partnership will actually improve the service provided today, or if it is just another PR tool to enhance the company’s stature. Nor do they inquire whether the dozens of companies who now tout use of AI have actually developed “smart” technology, or have just repackaged and rebranded more conventional tools. The media is also quick to pick up on the launch of innovative law firms, but nowhere to be found when those companies go south.”

For the technology decision-maker who’s been charged with finding Legal Operations solutions that provide reliable and immediate ROI, as well as helping Legal Ops progress toward a more evolved level of Business Process Management and digital transformation, it’s a valid concern.

What platforms are actually tangible, verifiable Legal Operations solutions? And which might turn into overly-ambitious (or hyperbolic) busts?

It’s critical to separate value from vaporware


One yardstick an aspiring adopter needs to use in assessing potential Legal Operations solutions is the Time-To-Value (T2V) KPI we’ve explored before. A platform vendor should be able to comfortably explain how quickly their product delivers benefits and ROI, and exactly what those benefits will be.

Here are some of the key questions to ask any technology vendor about their product that can help sort out real value providers from pretenders:

  • How soon will the product provide “hard” ROI like cost savings, whether in labor costs or actual materials or logistical costs?
  • How fast will it make a positive impact on Legal Ops responsiveness and client service?
  • What are the “soft” benefits to Legal Ops and the entire enterprise, in terms of improved collaboration, workplace culture, employee engagement and other improvements? And how quickly will those take shape?
  • How easy is it to implement their technology, and will it disrupt legacy systems or require rip-and-replace?
  • How stable and reliable is the company behind the product?
  • How good is their customer support, willingness to resolve issues and provide training and customization?
  • Can they cite case studies and customer testimonials to back any of this up?

A MISSION: IMPERATIVE for identifying the right Legal Operations solutions

Another good way to safeguard yourself against making the wrong decision when it comes to Legal Operations solutions adoption? Learning from the experts, and asking them some pointed questions.

There are multiple good resources available, including,, research and articles by HBR Consulting and others, including what we try to convey in this blog. What’s more, there will be another unique opportunity to interact with legal tech expertise at our free March 29th webinar, MISSION: IMPERATIVE – How Technology is Evolving the Role of Legal Operations.

Top technologists, analysts and Legal Ops leaders will discuss the future legal technology, and how to make more informed choices when it comes to a Legal Operations solutions adoption path.

Use the link below to get the details about our panel of Legal Ops all-stars, and to register. Again, it’s absolutely free. But in terms of how worthwhile it can be when it comes to choosing the right Legal Operations solutions in the months and years to come, and avoiding vaporware and empty promises? We’re confident you’ll find it invaluable.