Andrew Cooke is General Counsel at Fnatic, one of the most valuable and fastest-growing teams in esports.
Prior to joining Fnatic, Andrew built one of the Middle East’s most decorated in-house functions at Flash Entertainment from the ground up.
Tabled’s Commercial Director, Panicos Iordanou, spoke to Andrew about his role at Fnatic and the way he uses technology – including Tabled – to ‘supercharge’ his team’s ability to focus on delivering client value and meeting customer needs.
I started to realise around 2015/16 that – with the amount of work we were seeing – you couldn’t put enough bodies against it to turn it around at the speed customers were expecting.
Customers’ expectations were shifting based on their use of deeply personalised on-demand B2C services like Uber and Netflix.
And it came to me like a bolt from the blue, really. There were two pathways.
One pathway was my lawyers, about whom I cared very much, working harder and harder for an increasingly dissatisfied customer and storing up a mental wellbeing issue you’d need to address in the future.
The other way was to get control of technology and try to use it in ways which is like the mech suit in Alien.
You’re taking Ripley and putting her in a P1000 powered workloader and it allows her to defeat the alien. The ‘alien’ here is of course whatever problem you’re trying to solve – not the customers!
It’s about supercharging someone’s existing capabilities with technology. You’re not working for the technology. Technology’s not becoming a problem for you. Instead it’s supercharging you.
The key has been not to get stuck thinking about it and thinking about it – but to launch – and then use customer experience to iterate.
With a lot of the legaltech we’ve put in place our approach has been ‘let’s just try this with this team. Let’s try that with that team. Let’s get their feedback in real time and bring that into the experience and then try to iterate.’
We now have a nice, tight, internal legaltech product thinking process that is user-need driven as opposed to procurement driven.
First: ask forgiveness, not permission
I think a lot of lawyers are naturally rule-adherent. And that’s OK. But you’re not going to get anywhere by sticking within your guidelines or just saying: ‘OK. I’ll use the developer panel in Word and see if that’s the best that I can do’.
Second: be humble and get comfortable with not having all the answers.
As difficult as this can be for lawyers you sometimes have to be willing to say: ‘I don’t know anything about this. I don’t understand how it all clicks together. I either need somebody in my team to do that and educate me, or I need to go to somebody in the tech department and ask for help.’
Third: don’t overestimate the risk of trying new things
Until you start connecting solutions into other parts of your system, you’re not going to create tech debt. You’re not going to create any problems that can’t be shut down. You can always find a way to run a trial or an experiment.
And if you satisfy yourself that you can give something a try and then shut it down if it doesn’t work, what’s really the risk to your business?
On a related note, I am not a fan of ‘ecosystem’ software.
Before we took Tabled, we spoke to about 25 different legal tech vendors and the vast majority were trying to sell us all-encompassing ‘ecosystems’ in the style of law firm matter management systems.
I see those platforms as the software equivalent of Japanese knotweed in that – if you ever want to change something – your only options are to blow up the whole garden or live with it.
Fourth: take care of your customer and the rest will take care of itself
We got centralised approval for using tools by proving the efficacy of tools.
If your customer has a need you’re not fulfilling and you can say ‘I can use this tool to help you fulfil it – are you now happy with this tool’ and they are – then you don’t need to advocate for the budget, the customer will advocate for the budget.
We needed a single source of truth because we have so many ways for people to engage us at speed that it’s impossible to track them all.
Also – without an intake tool in place – people in the team get picked off. If I know you and like working with you, I keep on pushing work to you – maybe via DMs on Slack for example.
The problem there is not the relationship itself but the risk that people are potentially getting priority treatment where that’s not also the business priority.
We also needed visibility across our entire workflow, to help us to prioritise and give our lawyers a nice, varied diet which we couldn’t do effectively without a tool.
That said, the absolute core benefit of using Tabled isn’t one we originally had in mind and that’s the ability to automatically update your customers, which you can’t do if you’re just relying on Excel or Google Sheets.
When we first started our legaltech journey, we initially thought we’d just give people documents more quickly that would make them happy but it doesn’t.
And this is for the same reason that – when you order a Deliveroo on your mobile – the screen doesn’t just go black until somebody eventually arrives at your door.
It updates you all the way through: we’ve received your order / it’s in the kitchen / it’s on its way.
Yet – absent a tool like Tabled – the customer sends a Slack message and the communications tend to be very top of mind. You might just end up with ‘I need X document’ or ‘here’s a link, we need you to look at this.’ And then – in the customer’s mind – the order has been placed and the clock is ticking.
By contrast, Tabled does two things:
First, it’s asks the customer: ‘Do you want cutlery with that? Will you need napkins?’ etc – the intake form is doing all of that work for you. You don’t have to keep going back and saying: ‘OK, here’s this document. When else do you need?’ and so on – that’s not on you.
Straight away, you’ve eliminated the cost of intake to the legal team and that’s what we’re really talking about here – protecting time, because that is wasted time that the legal team needs back.
Second – there’s also zero friction for a customer to send repeated messages, asking ‘what’s happening?’ and that is where using an automatically updating ingress tool like Tabled to also save that time and cost is so important.
This is not about creating a barrier. This is about proactively getting ahead of the problem before the customer starts getting upset.
If your customer expects basically instant delivery, your number one problem to solve right now as a General Counsel is: ‘how do you update your customers and keep them informed in a way that aligns with their expectations?’
I would say that – along with electronic signature – ingress management is your number one way to get more time back out of your current workflow if you’re not doing that already.
Your clients don’t want face time, they want solutions.
Once you start to take away the perceived magic around what we do as lawyers – the ‘mystery’ of documentation etc – you start to see that deliverables are just one element in the overall purpose around managing risk.
So, what I need to do, is remove the high-volume low-value elements of my risk management piece by democratising them and instead move myself up to a higher order of risk management which is more strategic, more long-term – and much harder – but also far more rewarding.
Sure, I’m not necessarily going to get as many ‘thanks for turning it around so quickly’ messages via Slack – but that may not be what the company needs.
If you’re thinking about things on a longer-term horizon, it’s not about whether a single, individual customer is happy, it’s about whether your client – the Board of Directors representing the company itself – is having its needs met by the legal team.
How you can achieve that wider goal without understanding at a macro level what your workflow is I don’t know.
My number one metric is customer experience.
And the way we are creating that experience for customers is by providing automatic updates; anticipating their needs; and spending the time that returns to the legal team on tailoring our solutions to work for them.
Workflow data can really help with that tailoring piece in that you can look at a matter and ask questions like:
Absent a tool like Tabled, which offers an auditable journey for every document, it’s very difficult to move to that higher order customer insight piece.
While I still have a notebook and write things down,I can’t easily go back and say ‘OK, that was the point at which I first got instructed’ and then flip through the page and say ‘this is where we are, X days later’ – it’s very limited insight, even if I had the time to do it.
So, again, this goes back to the core point which is that we don’t work for the tech, the tech enhances us – and that’s a great example of something where our ability to serve the client’s requirement and the customer need is enhanced by the tech.
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