5 Reasons We Are Co-Developing Paladin

Recently, the Paladin team was thrilled to announce a partnership with Dentons to co-develop Paladin’s law firm platform. We’re excited to work closely with their terrific Pro Bono Counsel, Ben Weinberg, the Dentons team, and NextLaw Labs’ Maya Markovich, to launch a product that will engage their lawyers and pave the way to meaningfully increase access to justice.

We’re often asked what it means to co-develop with leading organizations and why it’s valuable. So, in a short series of posts, we’ll share why Paladin decided to invest in co-development, and what it looks like in practice.

Paladin’s CTO Matt Tucker process mapping a partner’s workflow

What does it mean to co-develop?

We view co-development as working very closely with key stakeholders over a period of time to build a product that maximizes value for everyone. While the IP belongs to Paladin, our team brainstorms, prototypes, tests, and iterates with our partners on tools they will find most useful. By going slow up-front, we can believe we can accelerate development on the back-end and ultimately deliver something impactful.

What does co-development look like?

During the development period, we engage pro bono experts across a select group of innovative firms and legal aid organizations in a formalized R&D process. The goals are to strengthen, prioritize, and execute on a high-quality product roadmap and feature set for Paladin’s law firm platform. Week to week, we’re mapping stakeholder workflows, deep diving on internal and external processes, and conducting focus groups and design sprints with relevant parties. We believe that partnering in this way is essential to creating long-term value.

What are the benefits of co-development?

We’ve found that co-development can be beneficial both for builders and users the process accelerates how we:

  1. Identify real, root causes. In order for a product to be successful, it has to solve a real pain point. While we had hunches as to where the pro bono workflow was breaking down and could be improved, we had to deep dive into multiple firms’ processes and speak with 100+ pro bono coordinators to determine where a product could alleviate the most pain. These discovery sessions, with stakeholders from across the ecosystem, have allowed Paladin to granularly map the pro bono workflow (more on that to come) and pinpoint where technology could address their needs.
  2. Leverage partners’ expertise to build valuable tools. Our team is passionate about increasing access to justice by championing pro bono technology, and we’ve got the hustlers, hackers, and hipsters to make it happen. But, our clients and their incredible lawyers are the real Paladins at the end of the day, and we rely on their expertise, insights, and feedback to create something worthwhile. Input from our co-development partners is an essential part of our process — we couldn’t do it without them!
  3. Save partners time and money: To address pro bono pain points, some firms want to (or already have) adopted or built internal pro bono tools. Unfortunately though, those tools often don’t get the attention they need to succeed. We frequently hear of hefty internal set-up and maintenance cost (no, internal tools != free), tools built on old tech stacks, systems cobbled together that fail to address the nuances of pro bono, or legacy tools that are simply not successful or adopted long-term. Additionally, internal tools are closed systems that cannot collaborate with third parties (like corporate clients or legal aid organizations), which is one of the biggest pain points for the pro bono ecosystem. By partnering with an organization like Paladin that focuses exclusively on pro bono software, partners are getting real-time, expert-driven, innovative tools that will set their firm apart.
  4. Collaborate to stay ahead of the curve: We’re in constant email, call, or text communication with our partners thinking about new ways to use tech to enhance their work. Something changes in pro bono best practices? We’re updating it in real time. Another immigration crisis strikes? We’re discussing how our tools can help. We also engage folks beyond the pro bono team, across business development, marketing, IT, and individual practice areas to foster solutions that holistically address challenges and ensure our partners are meeting their pro bono and business goals.
  5. Establish firms as innovation leaders: Co-development is more than just design sprints, prototyping, and focus groups, it’s a commitment to innovation that will set your firm apart. Pro bono is a fantastic place to start innovating because improvements in efficiency increase your community impact and your bottom line. The less time administrating, the more time for pro bono and billable work. Especially in the age of macro-events like family separation, pro bono is becoming a key differentiator for firms to signal their commitment on certain issues, and pairing that with a commitment to innovation is a win-win.

We hope this was a useful overview of what it means to co-develop and why we think it’s a valuable tool for firms and Paladin alike. Stay tuned for the next post in our co-development series!