Case Study: Troutman Sanders
Troutman Sanders puts a laser focus on client care. The firm believes in leveraging the collective knowledge of its highly skilled teams to help clients achieve their most important goals. Knowledge, and how they use it, is the cornerstone of the firm’s client relationships.
The collaborative culture and entrepreneurial values shape the way lawyers and staff alike approach their work at Troutman Sanders. It’s easy to see this spirit of innovation at work in the Client and Market Intelligence team.
Waiting for the Right Solution
Like many law firms, Troutman Sanders has long had a wealth of data tucked away in disparate systems, waiting to be leveraged to improve both its business and practice of law. Hunter Goolsby was originally brought into the firm in 2006 to implement an experience management database to bring all this information together.
Unfortunately, the technology on the market at the time was very limited and lacked the ability to integrate with other products. After a lot of wasted time and money, the firm reverted to an assortment of tactical SharePoint lists, Access databases, Excel spreadsheets, and Word documents, and they suffered the subsequent lack of consistency inherent in such siloed approaches. Discouraged by this experience, Troutman Sanders spent 10 years searching for the right solution to meet their needs.
Choosing the Right System
Based on the firm’s previous experience, Troutman Sanders undertook a comprehensive vetting process, looking at almost every product on the market. In addition to issuing a formal RFP, they conducted focus groups throughout the firm.
Goolsby met with over a dozen practices to understand what the attorneys were looking for in a new system. He believes other firms should include all stakeholders in the selection process to better understand the business needs a system should address. He also thinks it is crucial to understand what it will be like working in a system day-in and day-out before committing to one.
“Foundation really stood out to us as a platform that we could build on,” Goolsby describes. “If we were going to invest our time implementing a system, it had to be something that could grow with us over time. We wanted a partner who would support us and continue to enhance their product, and that has absolutely been the case with Foundation.”
Pramesh Naik, Troutman Sanders’ Chief Information Officer, champions solutions that are scalable and agile, ensuring the firm’s ability to take advantage of new opportunities and adapt to continuous change. Naik is also on a mission to make sure his department doesn’t become a roadblock, noting “One of the big benefits of Foundation is its easy configurability. Administrators can add custom fields and update reports to track and analyze new information as needs arise, without having to involve IT or paid third-party services.”
“One of the big benefits of Foundation is its easy configurability. Administrators can add custom fields and update reports to track and analyze new information as needs arise, without having to involve IT or paid third-party services”
– Pramesh Naik, Chief Information Officer, Troutman Sanders LLP
Ending Information Silos
Foundation is helping Troutman Sanders break down their silos of information throughout the firm by aggregating data from its disparate systems like Aderant, Workday, and their external website, and then layering in data from external sources like Dun & Bradstreet.
Now all the different departments that previously gathered data from separate sources can get their answers from Foundation. As an added bonus, Naik noted that the process of identifying information sources and bringing them together highlighted where data needed to be cleaned up.
Descriptive information like narratives and contextual details that add meaning and value to firm data are now collected centrally in Foundation so that they can be leveraged by groups throughout the firm.
Goolsby explained, “Foundation has made the process of managing data across our various practices more efficient and consistent. That’s been very helpful for better educating our business development team on what’s going on within the firm and helping them uncover opportunities with clients that they may not have been aware of in the past.”
*Foundation integrates with products from these companies but this is not an indication of affiliation.
Highlighting the Firm’s Competitive Advantage
Like many firms, Troutman Sanders is receiving an increasing number of RFPs and RFIs; moreover, clients expect firms to respond more quickly and very specifically to what they’re asking for.
Foundation has improved Troutman Sanders’ ability to respond to RFPs and other data-driven requests more efficiently and with a more complete and accurate set of information. They’ve also fully automated dynamic deal tombstone generation within the system, which has helped significantly reduce the time spent preparing responses to corporate-focused pitches and RFPs.
The clean and comprehensive data from Foundation can be leveraged in many strategic ways for the firm. For example, the Business and Competitive Intelligence team layers in external research with Foundation data to provide lawyers with the highest level of insight for new business opportunities they are pursuing.
The system is now the foundation for analytics. Goolsby’s team utilizes Power BI to analyze and leverage data from Foundation to inform firmwide and practice area strategic planning, as well as to guide geographic expansion, merger evaluation, business development, and practice management. Client-facing visualizations are produced with Tableau.
Foundation helps Troutman Sanders impress clients and win new business
Making Lawyers More Efficient
The ability to quickly find an expert with just the right experience can be critical to successfully moving a matter forward or winning new business. Lawyers at Troutman Sanders can now run a search to find that expertise in minutes, instead of relying on pardon the interruption emails that can take days to get answered.
For example, a partner might be looking to staff a deal with a real estate associate in the firm’s Charlotte office, who has experience with particular types of agreements and who has done work in the M&A sector for California-based clients. “You can run that complex search in Foundation and return very specific suggestions, perhaps three different associates, along with how many clients and matters they’ve worked on that fit the specifics of that search, then pivot to drill into the details of those clients and matters,” explained Goolsby. “Our attorneys are thrilled at the speed with which they can identify expertise to better serve their clients.”
Hunter Goolsby talks about what lawyers like about Foundation
Foundation has also given the firm visibility into how it interacts with third parties over time. Being able to quickly see how other entities were affiliated with prior transactions and litigation matters has proven helpful for Troutman Sanders’ lawyers to leverage the firm’s network, inform strategy in current cases, and provide new avenues for growth.
A holistic view of clients and contacts gives Troutman a competitive advantage
Moving Beyond Business Development
Although Troutman Sanders originally acquired Foundation for business of law applications like experience management and proposal generation, it has already found additional uses across the firm. For example, it is being used to track and report on diversity statistics, as well as leverage the client management aspects of the platform for client development and to better manage relationships.
Other teams working heavily in Foundation include Pricing and Finance, who combined their separate databases into the platform. The ability to leverage the wealth of contextualized data in Foundation has made it more efficient for these professionals to find relevant matters to support improved pricing accuracy, produce necessary reports, and locate answers to a myriad of finance-related questions.
Goolsby noted, “Having a firm intelligence platform like Foundation is transformative for our firm. We use the data to sell our capabilities more fully and to better understand our strengths, as well as to find areas where we may need to look for additional talent to grow our services. It gives us a level of transparency into our clients and matters that we’ve never had before.”